easy summer dessert: key lime pie

I first tasted key lime pie when I was a kid. We came to Florida for winter break, and drove down to the Keys from Ft. Lauderdale. My mother convinced me to taste key lime pie, no small feat, I’m sure, and it was love at first taste. For the rest of the trip, we tried key lime pie at almost every place we ate–we were trying to find the best one in the Keys.

Years later, when I was living in Dallas, I discovered this recipe. I printed it out from the Food & Wine website, and its been in my recipe binder since. This was about 10 years ago. I’ve tried it with bottled key lime juice and with fresh. Take my advice, it is just as good with bottled, and you’ll save yourself a lot of pain and suffereing of juicing the teeny-tiny key limes. Unless you have a tree, or your friend with a tree gives you some, don’t be seduced by the cute little limes in the market. They’re nothing but trouble. I use Nellie and Joe’s key lime juice, and I’ve never had trouble finding it in the market.

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The recipe includes directions to make your own crust. Do it at least once. It is ridiculously easy. And it is so much better tasting than a pre-made crust. In a pinch, I’ve used the pre made crust, but I’ve always regretted it. You don’t have to grind your own crumbs, but I ran out of pre-ground crumbs….I was lucky that I had a box of graham crackers. Use one bowl for the crust and while it bakes use the same bowl to make the filling. One bowl, one whisk, one spatula and one fork. Could it be any easier?
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Key Lime Pie
I’ve not changed a thing about this recipe. It is perfect.

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 7 oz)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (I almost always forget to put this in)
2 14-oz cans sweetend condensed milk
2/3 cup Key lime juice

  1. Preheat the oven to 350. In a bowl, stir together the crumbs, melted butter and cinnamon. Evenly press mixture into a 9 inch pie plate. Place the pie plate on a cookie sheet and bake for about 12 minutes, until firm. Remove the crust from the oven and reduce the temperature to 325. Leave the plate on the cookie sheet.
  2. While the crust cools slightly, mix the filling in the same bowl. Whisk the egg yolks and cream of tartar until frothy. Stir in the condensed milk, and then whisk in the juice until fully encorporated.
  3. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for about 15 minutes, or until set.
  4. Cool on a rack and refrigerate once cooled.
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