Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Homemade Key Lime Pie

Copyright Bloom Creatives 2008. All rights reserved.

One of the easiest, most delicious desserts you can make is key lime pie. (By make I mean actually breaking out the mixer, not taking the box out of the freezer and letting it defrost.) 

Although not traditionally a holiday dish in most areas of the country, it is the perfect light finish to a heavy holiday meal: not to sweet, not too tart, airy and lovely. The semi-homemade version uses minimal ingredients - semi-homemade meaning using a ready-made graham cracker crust instead of making your own, but you are more than welcome to do that, too. Make sure that you use key lime juice, not regular lime juice. If you're ambitious you can squeeze the juice out of the itsy-bitsy limes yourself, but I would recommend using something like Nellie & Joe's Key Lime Juice instead.

1 9" pre-made graham cracker pie crust
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup key lime juice
3 egg yolks
1 pint heavy cream or creme fraiche
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1 tsp sugar (optional)

Mix together condensed milk, key lime juice and egg yolks (discard whites). Pour mixture into pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to eat.

Just prior to serving, whip heavy cream or creme fraiche in mixer. If you prefer sweeter cream, add vanilla and sugar. Top pie with whipped cream and serve.

Some notes: 
Technically, you do not have to bake this pie. The chemical reaction between the key lime juice and the egg yolks actually "cooks" the eggs, killing any salmonella, etc. However, I find that the short bake gives the pie a thicker consistency that I prefer.

Although my mother, the whipped cream purist, would wholeheartedly disagree, I would recommend sweetening the cream. Using the amounts of vanilla and sugar I have listed sweetens the cream just enough to offset the tartness of the lime custard, but is not sweet enough to be cloying.

There you go - a delicious, light end to a heavy holiday meal!