My real life has been getting in the way of my blog. I know, pathetic, huh?
I had grand plans last week to make a tres leches and then while it baked to blog about key lime pie and that time I went to Florida and couldn’t find a decent piece. Because here’s the secret, people. All of Florida claims key lime pie, but finding the real thing- with graham cracker crust, and a deep yellow custard that makes swirls of sweetness and sour on your tongue- is no easy task. It’s so hard to find that I lived in Florida for FOUR YEARS before I discovered that I liked key lime pie. Truth.
I’ve had key lime pie that is white, key lime pie that is frozen, key lime pie on a stick dipped in chocolate, key lime pie with crusts that resemble cardboard, key lime pie smothered in meringue, and key lime pie that oozes like snot all over the plate. None of these will engender an affection for key lime pie. That said, I’ve generally found the best key lime pie is in the keys (Kermit’s?), though I might be saying that because it was in the keys where I finally discovered the blessing that is honest to goodness key lime pie. They also make a wonderful version at Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami Beach, and while we’re being honest can I admit to you that after a lunch of stone crab and key lime pie from Joe’s I could die happily, without a single reservation? Nirvana.
It wasn’t until I was sitting in a dear friend’s kitchen that I discovered how easy it was to make. She had this tea towel hanging from the oven door and printed on it was a recipe for key lime pie. “Is it really that easy?” I asked, taking in the THREE ingredients printed on the towel. “It is,” she said. “I’ve made this recipe, and it’s quite good.” Cue starstruck look. She made a recipe printed on a tea towel someone bought for $5.99 in a souvenir shop. And it was good. How many things can you say that about?
One of the things I find so endearing about key lime pie is it’s reliance on sweetened condensed milk, which back in the day was more available in temperate places like the keys and not prone to spoilage like regular milk. I am crazy about the stuff. Like you shouldn’t leave me alone with it crazy because you’re likely to come back and find me sitting on the counter and eating it straight from the can with a spoon. Remember Pooh and his honey pot? That’s me and condensed milk.
Don’t let the fact that you don’t live in the Keys preclude you from making key lime pie. It’s readily available online. Or you could always make it with Persian limes. I’m a huge fan of homemade graham cracker crust (pretty simple to make), but if you want to save time or are just lazy I guess you could use a pre-made one. Also, if you want a deep-dish pie, you should double the recipe. I would.
for the crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar
6 Tablespoons melted butter
For the filling:
5 egg yolks (save the whites for omlets!)
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup key lime juice
Heat oven to 350. In a medium sized bowl mix graham cracker crumbs with cinnamon and sugar. Add butter and mix well with a fork. The mixture will be clumpy. Press crumbs into an 8-inch pie plate, distributing evenly on the bottom and sides of the pan. Don’t worry if it’s not 100 percent perfect. Bake in the middle of the oven for ten minutes until it is just slightly browned. Remove and let cool a bit.
Meanwhile, in a separate medium sized bowl, use a whisk or fork to mix the egg yolks with the condensed milk. Add the lime juice and combine well- the mixture may start to thicken. Pour the key lime mixture into the pie crust. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until the center is firm. Serve room temperature, or put it in the fridge and serve cold. I like mine with a side of whipped cream, but it’s just as good on its own.