I have been craving a really good slice of key lime pie since January. It’s clearly not a particularly intense craving, or I would have found a way to get some pie long ago, but it’s there, in the background, every time I think about dessert (which is relatively often). The craving started when we unexpectedly got stuck in Miami during the first blizzard of this epic winter. I had a really incredible slice of key lime pie at a whole in the wall BBQ place during a work trip to Miami about a year ago, and now when I think of Miami, I think of that pie. A two day layover in Miami should have meant that getting some good pie was pretty easy, but it just didn’t happen (I did have a great Medianoche, though, so there’s that).
So, what better time to make something just for yourself than your birthday? I originally meant to make this the day before my birthday, as I was taking the day off to pamper myself, but I ended up spending most of the day out with my mom, and after a late lunch, making pie didn’t feel like the right choice. Saturday, after spending the morning at our house inspection (if that doesn’t make you feel old, I’m not sure what will), Trevor threw me a great birthday party – he did a really delicious BBQ pulled pork in the smoker, accompanied by mac’n’cheese, grilled sweet potatoes, and a towering homemade angel food cake with blueberry jam. Greatest boyfriend in the world, end of story. Sunday, somewhere between recovering from the night before (primarily by eating leftover mac’n’cheese for every meal) and beginning to worry about my trip to Colombia the next day, I decided that it was time for my birthday pie. So I whipped it up, and it was everything I wanted it to be. In the end, it’s probably good that I only had the chance to eat two slices before leaving.
Key lime pie is incredibly simple to make. The only thing it requires is the patience to squeeze 2 dozen tiny key limes by hand (or access to good quality fresh key lime juice). After that, all you do is mix up sweetened condensed milk with a few egg yolks (conveniently left over from the 24 egg whites required for the angel food cake your boyfriend makes for your birthday), stir in the lime juice, pour into a basic graham cracker crust, and bake. The condensed milk does most of the work of making key lime pie, well, key lime pie. I made a slight twist to the recipe by reserving some of the filling and mixing it with Meyer lemon juice, then using a few drops of food coloring to color the lime mixture green and the lemon part yellow, then swirling the two together. The result is mostly aesthetic, but if you don’t mind the extra step, I think it gives the pie a fun ’50s look.
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Key Lime and Meyer Lemon Swirl Pie
Key lime pie recipe adapted from Epicurious. Serves 8-10.
- 9 graham crackers
- 1/4 c. sugar
- 5 TBS butter, melted
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
- 5 egg yolks
- 9 TBS key lime juice, freshly squeezed (from about 20 key limes)
- 3 TBS Meyer lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
- yellow and green food coloring
- 1 c. heavy cream or whipping cream
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, Place the graham crackers in a food processor or blender and process until finely crushed. Mix the crumbs with the sugar, melted butter, and sea salt, then press into a 9-inch round pie pan. Press the crust firmly into the bottom and up the sides using your fingertips. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat together the sweetened condensed milk and the egg yolks until fully combined. Scoop half a cup of the mixture into a separate bowl and set aside. Mix the lime juice with the batter in the first bowl (the larger amount) until evenly combined. Mix the lemon juice with the batter in the second bowl (the smaller amount) until evenly combined. Stir 2 drops of green food coloring into the lime batter and 4 drops of yellow food coloring into the lemon batter.
- Pour the lime batter into the pre-baked pie crust. Carefully spoon the lemon batter into concentric circles on top of the lime batter. Use a knife to cut swirling patterns into the batter by running the knife from the center of the pie to the edge and back in again. Bake the pie for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and let cool completely. Chill for at least 2 hours.
- Before serving the pie, whip the cream into soft peaks. Decorate the pie with the whipped cream or spread a thick layer on top. Serve chilled.