One of the greatest virtues of Key Lime Pie is that it’s almost always the same, no matter where you get it. Both “budget” and “fancy-pants” restaurants make it the same way—with lime juice, eggs and a can of sweetened condensed milk. And despite some foodies’ reverence for real Key limes—those Barbie-sized limes that are so tedious to squeeze—the juice from regular Persian limes is almost indistinguishable from the former.
Key Lime Pies were first made more than 150 years ago in Florida when someone got the idea of combining lime juice with sweetened condensed milk and pouring the mixture into a pastry crust. Over the years, graham cracker crusts have replaced the pastry; the crisp crumbs are a perfect match with the soft, creamy filling.
“Sheff” Charles Lee of the Beach Walk Café in Destin, Fla., makes a Key Lime Pie that’s a cut above the rest. The secret is in his technique—Sheff beats the heck out of everything. All this agitation creates a thick pie with great lime flavor and the texture of a cheesecake.
Board Walk Café’s Key Lime Pie
2 cups graham crackers crumbs
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/16 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 egg yolks, room temperature
Finely grated rind of 1 lime
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
Whipped cream (optional)
1. Combine crumbs, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in a bowl. Stir in melted butter. Press mixture into a 9-inch glass pie plate. (Crust will be thick.) Refrigerate 15 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350F.
3. Combine egg yolks and lime rind in a mixing bowl. Beat with a mixer on high speed 8 minutes. (The eggs should be pale yellow and fluffy.) Gradually add condensed milk and beat 7 minutes, or until fluffy. Reduce speed to low and slowly add lime juice, beating about 2 minutes. Pour filling into chilled pie shell.
4. Bake about 12 minutes, until filling is set. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Refrigerate 3 hours before serving. Top with whipped cream, if using, before serving. Serves 8.
Per serving: 385 calories, 17g fat, 145mg chol., 7g prot., 53g carbs., 2g fiber, 274mg sodium
Recipe courtesy of the Beach Walk Cafe in Destin, Fla.