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Easy Gourmet Key Lime Pie Recipe

Updated on April 5, 2013

The Truth About Key Lime Pie

Might as well get it out right away.. not all key lime pie recipes are made with key limes. AND, key lime pie is not naturally green (more about this later).

You see, key limes are not as readily available as "normal" limes. But if you can find real key limes, you really owe it to yourself (and those you bless with your sweet delights) to make a pie with them.

Basically, the two types of limes are interchangeable in a key lime pie recipe.

My first experience with this particular recipe was using regular limes, but i have since made the pie with key limes as well.

Image credit: saminblue on Flickr

Old Key Lime House
Old Key Lime House

Key Limes - Yes, Matilda, They Do Exist

The Story Behind The Key Lime

There really is a fruit called key lime. And, not surprisingly, it can be found in the Florida Keys. However, it is not unique to that area. They are also grown in places like Mexico, the West Indies, the Middle East, and California.

The key lime is a bit smaller than what we normally buy at the grocery store, but it is usually green (it will turn more of a yellow color when fully ripe), and it has a very limey taste. It is, however, a little more tart and bitter, so adding extra sugar in your recipes is normally the way to compensate for that bitterness.

The Old Key Lime House (shown above), is great place for key lime pie.

image credit Wikimedia Commons

Since Key Limes are not as widely marketed as regular limes, which are actually Persian Limes, they are difficult to find in local stores. You will be more apt to find them in gourmet shops rather than your larger supermarkets.

On a personal note, I lived in South Florida for many years, so Key Limes seemed like a regular commodity, especially in the many fruit stands that sold all the fresh citrus available in Florida. There would always be the regular compliment of oranges and grapefruit, but seasonally, there were mangoes and key limes.

The Old Key Lime House is the oldest waterfront restaurant in the US. Not only is the signature desert fantastic, but they have a killer crab cake sandwich. I highly recommend it if you are in the Lake Worth/Lantana area.

What about green key lime pie?

Yes, many times you will see green when you order key lime deserts, but the green color has to be added via food coloring. Natural key limes do have a greenish tint, but it is not enough to change the yellow color of the custard, which comes from the egg yolks. That's why REAL key lime pie is more yellow than green.

Image Credit

Kenny Chesney Fan? - Here's his version of Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie
Key Lime Pie

Even if you're not a fan of the desert, ya gotta love this song!

 
Key Lime Pie Slice
Key Lime Pie Slice

Barbara's Gourmet Key Lime Pie Recipe

Crust

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup butter at room temperature

Filling

5 eggs, separated

3/4 cup sugar

2/3 cup key lime juice (lime juice may be substituted)

2 tablespoons lime rind

1 envelop Knox gelatin

2 tablespoons orange curacao (optional)

2 tablespoons Rose's Lime Juice (substitute another brand if necessary, but results will not be guaranteed)

1/2 pint heavy cream, whipped

Preheat oven to 350º

Prepare Crust

Place graham crackers and sugar into a bowl and mash into crumbs. Incorporate the room-temperature butter and press into a 9-inch pie pan using your finger tips. Bake in a 350º oven for 10 minutes. Set aside and cool to room temperature.

Prepare the Filling

Beat egg yolks with sugar at high speed until they are light in color and thick in texture. Stir lime juice into the egg mixture and poor into a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and coats the spoon. DO NOT BOIL.

Dissolve gelatin in curacao and Rose's Lime juice, then dissolve the gelatin mixture into the hot custard. Remove from heat and allow to cool, stirring occasionally.

Beat egg whites at high speed (add 3T of sugar to aid consistency) until they are stiff but not too dry.

In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream until it forms peaks. (Hint: use a chilled bowl when beating egg whites and cream.)

Combine beaten egg whites with whipped cream and fold together.

Fold about 1/3 of this mixture into the cooled custard, then lightly fold in the remainder of the beaten egg whites and cream.

Finishing the pie

Pour mixture into graham cracker crust.

Garnish with grated lime rind.

Place completed Key Lime Pie into the freezer for several hours or overnight.

Image Credit

You WILL need this ~ Rose's Lime Juice

Rose's Lime Juice, 25-Ounce Bottles (Pack of 3)
Rose's Lime Juice, 25-Ounce Bottles (Pack of 3)

Rose's Lime Juice has not changed for decades. It's still the best mixer for all your sweet and sour recipes, including mixed drinks like Vodka Gimlets and Margaritas.

 

My Favorite Stand Mixer

KitchenAid KSM150PSGA Artisan Series 5-Qt. Stand Mixer with Pouring Shield - Green Apple
KitchenAid KSM150PSGA Artisan Series 5-Qt. Stand Mixer with Pouring Shield - Green Apple

I use my Kitchen Aid mixer for all my desert recipes. Check out my recipe for my Famous Cheesecake.

I've had my Kitchen Aid mixer for more than 15 years and it's still going strong.

 

Credit For Barbara's Key Lime Pie Recipe

A few years ago (about 40 to be more precise), I took a continuing education class in gourmet cooking at my local high school. As I recall, we had to pay about $25 for a 16 week course, and each week we would prepare an entire meal. It was pretty amazing. The food was fantastic, and we got the recipes to take home and experiment on the family.

Barbara was the teacher. She had been lots of places, including rubbing shoulders with the great chefs in France. She knew her stuff!

This recipe came out of that class. The photo is a scan of my actual notes from more than 40 years ago. I still have them all, and I still make many of the recipes.

Key Lime pie is one of my family's favs.

Thanks Barbara!

Green Kitchen Accessories - (to get you in the mood)

KitchenAid 5-Speed Ultra Power Hand Mixer with powerful, quiet DC motor, one touch speed control and multiple attachments khm53ga Green Apple.
KitchenAid 5-Speed Ultra Power Hand Mixer with powerful, quiet DC motor, one touch speed control and multiple attachments khm53ga Green Apple.

This is the next best thing to the stand mixer. It will handle most of your mixing tasks with ease.

 
KitchenAid Classic Silicone Scraper Spatula, Green Apple
KitchenAid Classic Silicone Scraper Spatula, Green Apple

If you're going green, why not a green spatula?

 
KitchenAid Classic Utility Whisk, Green Apple
KitchenAid Classic Utility Whisk, Green Apple

And, of course, this whisk is a natural addition to your green kitchen stuff.

 

Other Choices for Key Lime lovers

Wind and Willow Key Lime Pie Cheeseball & Dessert Mix - 3.5 Ounce (4 Pack)
Wind and Willow Key Lime Pie Cheeseball & Dessert Mix - 3.5 Ounce (4 Pack)

This desert mix gives you lots of options to prepare for your next party.

 
Nestle Carnation Key Lime Cream Pie Dessert Kit - Easy recipe Carnation dessert kit
Nestle Carnation Key Lime Cream Pie Dessert Kit - Easy recipe Carnation dessert kit

Not quite ready to take on a gourmet recipe from scratch? Try this alternative method using a ready-made mix.

 
Key Lime Pie Mix
Key Lime Pie Mix

This one is an excellent choice as a gift to take to a party or house warming.

 

Are You A Fan? - Please leave your comments

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    • Wayne Rasku profile image
      Author

      Wayne Rasku 4 years ago

      @Cynthia Haltom: The name is pretty important, Key Lime sounds a lot sexier than plain ole lime, don't you think?

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 4 years ago from Diamondhead

      If all key lime pie aren't made with key lime, I think they are just trying to pass off lime pie.

    • LauraHofman profile image

      Laura Hofman 4 years ago from Naperville, IL

      I love key lime pie! So refreshing and easy to make.