Suzanne’s Sweet Key Lime Pies

Nothing says warm weather like citrus fruit! Key Lime Pie tastes like sunshine. It is sweet, tangy, and creamy! Bake it for your next warm weather get together!

Photo by Allison of culinarycupcake.com

Key lime pie is a dessert from the Key West, Florida where key limes are abundant. It is the official state pie of Florida. The pie is traditionally made with key lime juice, egg yolks, and sweetened condensed milk. There are many variations of the famous pie. Many Floridians argue about whether the crust should be made of pastry of graham crackers, whether the filling should be cooked or uncooked, and whether to top the pie with whipped cream or meringue.

Key Limes have been in Florida for hundreds of years. They were brought to the Florida Keys in the 1500s by the Spanish. It was only natural that the little citrus fruits would be eventually turned into desserts. There is no formal documentation as to who invented key lime pie. There are two competing stories for how the pie came to be. The first one was that during the 1800s there lived a man named William Curry. He was a salvager of ships and was Florida’s first self-made millionaire. Curry had a cook called Aunt Sally that created the pie. Another tale said that the pie was invented by sponge fishermen in the Key West area. The fishermen used their paltry rations of sugar, canned milk, eggs, crackers and limes to create the tart and tangy pie to take with them of fishing trips.

What we do know is that the first recipes for key lime pie were written down during the 1930s. It was not until 1930 that ice, refrigeration, and fresh milk became available to the Florida Keys. Due to the lack of fresh milk in the area, Floridian cooks relied on canned sweetened condensed milk to be a main ingredient in key lime pie for many years. It is the sweetened condensed milk that creates the smooth texture in the dessert.

My husband and I love key lime pie. One year when we were dating we traveled a lot and we researched the best key lime pies in the areas we were going to visit. We went to these restaurants and bakeries and tried slices of key lime pies, it was bliss. It was a lovely side adventure to add to our travels.

Key lime pie was intertwined into our lives in more ways than one. A few months ago we inherited a piece of furniture from my husband’s side of the family. It had been in storage for ten years. When I was restoring it, I discovered handwritten family recipes inside the drawers. I knew that I had found something special. Amongst the papers was a recipe for key lime pie. It was created by my husband’s Aunt Suzanne. I never met her, because she passed away many years ago, but everyone that knew her always spoke fondly of her and her food. I copied the recipe and gave the original paper to her daughter. My cousin-in-law was so grateful because she had lost her copy for the key lime pie recipe a long time ago.

I thought there could be no better way to memorialize Aunt Suzanne than to make her food. (I made a few modifications to her recipe because I cannot give all the family secrets away). After a little tweaking I believe that I have created a recipe for key lime pies that honors the vision of Aunt Suzanne and still tastes delicious. I hope that your family finds joy in our story and loves this key lime pie as much as we do.

Suzanne’s Sweet Key Lime Pies Recipe

Yields two 9 inch pies

Makes 16 servings

Specialty Tool: Stand Mixer or Electric Hand Mixer

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Bake Time: 10 minutes

Inactive Time: 4 hours

Ingredients

3 eggs separated

One 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk

1 tablespoon fresh lime zest, plus more for garnish

1/2 cup key lime juice, fresh is best but bottled tastes good too

*Two Graham Cracker Crusts (recipe below)

1 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F

Put the three egg whites in a bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

Place the three egg yolks in a large bowl. Using the mixer on medium speed, beat the egg yolks. Gently pour in the condensed milk as the egg yolks are being mixed, about 3 minutes.

Add the lime zest to the bowl and mix until well incorporated.

Gently fold the egg whites into the pie filling with a rubber spatula.

Pour pie filling into prepared graham cracker crusts.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes to let the filling set.

Cool on a counter or cooling rack until it reaches room temperature, about two hours.

Gently cover the pies with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours for the pies to set.

Before serving, whip the heavy whipping cream using the electric mixer until stiff.

Take off the plastic wrap. Slice the pie. Top each slice with whipped cream. Serve very cold.

This a great make ahead dessert for a potluck or dinner party. Make the pie the night before and it will be great for the next day!

Garnish with lime slices for a prettier pie.

If you need to save on time, you can serve the pie with premade whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Photo by Allison of culinarycupcake.com

*Two Graham Cracker Crusts Recipe

Yields two 9 inch pie crusts

Specialty tools: two 9 inch glass pie plates

Prep Time: 8 minutes

Bake Time: 8 minutes

Ingredients

18 sheets of graham crackers (about 10 ounces)

10 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F

Crush the graham crackers into fine crumbs. Either put the graham crackers in a plastic bag and beat with a rolling pin until they are crumbs. Or pulverize the graham crackers in a food processor.

Melt the butter.

Add graham cracker crumbs and melted butter into a large bowl and mix well.

Split the graham cracker mixture between two 9 inch glass pie plates.

Press the graham cracker mixture onto the bottom and sides of the pie plates using your hands or the bottom of a measuring cup.

Place pie plates into the preheated oven.

Bake for 8 minutes.

Use the crusts for your favorite pie or cheesecake recipes!

DID YOU MAKE THIS DISH?

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