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Key West Key Lime Pie

Servings: 6-8

This small, lemon-shaped citrus fruit has a thin green skin and a juicy, pale green pulp. Limes grow in tropical and subtropical climates such as Mexico, California, Florida and the Caribbean. Because they're an excellent source of vitamin C, limes were fed to British sailors as a scurvy preventative (the fact that was the springboard for the pejorative nickname "limey"). The two main varieties are the Persian lime (the most widely available in the United States) and the Key lime from Florida. The latter is smaller, rounder and has a color more yellow than green. Outside of Florida, the Key lime is usually found only in specialty produce markets and some supermarkets that carry gourmet produce. Though Persian limes are available year-round, their peak season is from May through August. Look for brightly colored, smooth-skinned limes that are heavy for their size. Small brown areas (scald) on the skin won't affect flavor or succulence but a hard or shriveled skin will. Refrigerate uncut limes in a plastic bag for up to 10 days. Cut limes can be stored in the same way up to 5 days. Sweetened or unsweetened bottled lime juice, as well as frozen lime juice and limeade, are some of the more popular lime products and are available in most supermarkets. The versatile lime has a multitude of uses, from a sprightly addition to mixed drinks (like margaritas), to a marinade for raw fish dishes (such as seviche), to the famous Key Lime Pie. Key Lime Pie ia a custard pie very similar to a lemon meringue pie (sometimes, as in the recipe below, the pie is not topped with meringue but served with flavored whipped cream as garnish).

Source: The New Food Lover's Companion, Second Edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst

To make this pie even easier, you can use a ready-made store-bought graham cracker crust.

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup almond flour* (see notes below)
1/2 cup (1 stick/4 oz/113g) butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 (14 oz/392 ml) can sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup (125 ml) key lime juice* (see notes below)

Garnish (optional)
Whipped cream flavored with 2 tsp. vanilla extract or 2 tbsp. key lime juice
Sliced limes

For the Crust: (if not using a ready-made store-bought graham cracker crust)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C).

2. Add graham cracker crumbs, almond flour, sugar and melted butter into the bowl of a stand mixer or mix by hand. In stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, mix until well combined.

3. Pat crust mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake until just set and slightly golden, about 8 minutes.

4. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F (150 C) after baking crust.

For the Filling:

1. Add the condensed milk, egg yolks, key lime juice to the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip all ingredients at medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour into prepared crust. Bake in preheated 300 degree F (150 C) oven for 25 to 30 minutes until custard is just set. Let cool on wire rack for one hour, then chill in refrigerator. When ready to serve, garnish each slice with flavored whipped cream and lime slices, if desired.

Store pie tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or pies can be frozen for up to 2 to 4 weeks.

Almond flour, sometimes called almond meal, can be found in most large supermarkets on the aisle where flours are kept. One brand in particular I have found in many supermarkets, is Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour in a 16 oz. bag.

Bottled Key lime juice can be purchased at most supermarkets. It can usually be found on the juice aisle or on the baking aisle.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Photograph taken by Diana Baker Woodall© 2005

Date: January 24, 2005