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Key Lime Pie Recipe & Video

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A Key Lime Pie starts with a sweet and grainy Graham Cracker Crust. Next, is a creamy smooth filling that has a delicious Key Lime flavor. Once chilled, it is topped with lots of whipped cream. As its name implies, a Key Lime Pie was first made in the Florida Keys, which is also where Key Limes are grown. John Mariani in 'The Dictionary of American Food and Drink' tells us that the recipe for Key Lime Pie came after the 1856 invention of sweetened condensed milk

Although the first Key Lime Pies were made with a pastry crust, many recipes, including this one, use a Graham Cracker Crust. It is, by far, the simplest of all the pie crusts to make. Now, the test to see if you have the right amount of crumbs to melted butter is; once you have mixed the ingredients together, to squeeze some in your hand. If the crumbs hold together, then it's ready to press into your pan.

Next, the filling. A Key Lime Pie is made with Key Limes. Key Limes are instantly recognizable as they are so much smaller than a regular Persian lime. In fact, it takes about 20-25 Key Limes to get 1/2 cup (120 ml/grams) of Key Lime juice. Whereas you need only 4-5 Persian limes to get the same amount of juice. Key Limes are a small, round, hard, yellow and green colored, very acidic fruit that grows in Florida. If you cannot find Key Limes in your area, don't fret, as regular Persian limes also make an excellent Lime Pie. An interesting side note; although the filling is made with green limes, the color of the baked filling is actually yellow. The only 'green' you will find is from the flecks of lime zest. However, if you want the filling to be green you could add some green food coloring to the filling. Along with the limes, the filling contains sweetened condensed milk which is made from whole milk and sugar that are heated until most of the water has evaporated. It is a thick, sticky, and very sweet mixture that makes a wonderful Key lime filling. Because the filling also contains egg yolks, we do need to bake the pie until the filling is set.

Key Lime Pies can have either a meringue or a whipped cream topping. I prefer whipped cream. Use cream that is labeled as "Heavy" Cream or Heavy "Whipping" Cream which means it has a 36 - 40% butterfat that will double in volume when whipped and hold its form.

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Key Lime Pie: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter, or lightly spray with a non stick vegetable spray, a 9 inch (23 cm) pie pan. Place the pie pie on a larger baking sheet.

Crust: In a bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter until all the crumbs are moistened. (You can also make the Crust in your food processor.) Press onto the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan. Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill for about 10 - 15 minutes.

Filling: In the bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the egg yolks and the condensed milk, on medium high speed, until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Then beat in the lime zest and juice.

Pour the filling over the crust and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the filling is set. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once it has completely cooled, cover and refrigerate for several hours or preferably overnight.

Topping: In the bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla extract until stiff peaks form. Either pipe (I use a Wilton 1M star tip) or place mounds of whipping cream on top of the filling. Can be stored in the refrigerator for three to four days.

Makes 1 - 9 inch (23 cm) pie or tart. 

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1 1/4 cup (125 grams) Graham Cracker Crumbs (can use crushed Digestive Biscuits)

1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated white sugar (optional)

5 tablespoons (70 grams) melted butter


3 large (52 grams) egg yolks, at room temperature

One 14 - ounce can (397 grams) sweetened condensed milk

1 tablespoon (4 grams) freshly grated lime zest (outer green skin)

1/2 cup (120 ml/grams) freshly squeezed key lime juice (can use regular limes)


1 cup (240 ml/grams) cold heavy whipping cream (cream with a 35-40% butterfat content)

1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated white sugar, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

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