I think that homemade Key Lime Pie must be one of the world’s best kept secrets. Because it is super easy–and delicious!
I had never tried Key Lime Pie until a half dozen years ago when I participated in a charity event. As a thank you, we got to use the corporate box for a hometown baseball game, with key lime pie for dessert. “No chocolate?”, was my first thought, but when everyone else looked excited I gave it a try.
Since then I’ve eaten it every chance I get.
Recently on the lookout for fun blogging ideas, I decided to try a canning jar dessert–and key lime pie was my first thought. I used a regular pie recipe–same amounts even–based on this recipe from Gourmet Sleuth. They also gave me the answer to why all of the recipes use sweetened condensed milk. When key lime pie originated in Florida around 1850, lack of refrigeration meant that any milk had to be canned. The tradition has continued to this day.
So if mini-pies seem putzy or inconvenient, go with a regular pie. Or even a super easy version with a prepared graham cracker crust.
My other innovation was to try a mascarpone whipped cream to decorate the top. Mascarpone’s creaminess mellows the astringency of the lime and the topping holds its shape better than the traditional whipped cream. Especially important since I was looking for something I could leave over night and serve friends the next day.
To test the topping, I stored a few decorated (mini) key lime pies in a closed zip lock overnight in the refrigerator. The next morning, they looked perfect.
They looked so good, in fact, we had them for breakfast. (Sorry friends…)
- • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (from 1 wrapped section of crackers + one additional cracker)
- • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
- • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- • 4 large egg yolks
- • 1/2 c fresh lime juice (ideally key lime, but regular is fine)
- • 2 t fine lime zest (no white)
- • 1/2 c mascarpone
- • 1/4 c heavy cream
- • 2 T powdered sugar
- • 1/2 t vanilla
- optional lime zest for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Stir together graham cracker crumbs and butter until well combined. Press mixture evenly onto bottom and up side of a 9-inch pie plate or 6 3-4 inch canning jars.
- Bake crust for 10 minutes and cool in pie plate on a rack.
- Whisk together condensed milk, egg yolks, juice (add half at a time) and zest until well combined.
- Pour filling into cooled crust and bake for 15 minutes. Cool pie completely on rack (filling will set as it cools), then chill. Store covered.
- When pie is cool, whip cream, then add sugar, vanilla and mascarpone. Beat until fluffy. Pipe six rosettes around outside of pie or in center of each individual mini-pie. Sprinkle mascarpone cream with additional lime zest if desired. Store covered and refrigerated until served.
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