Something magical happens when you introduce an acidic ingredient to sweetened condensed milk: it transforms and takes on a wonderful custardy texture. Home cooks have relied upon this reaction for years, using it as the basis for wonderful desserts such as lemon icebox pie and key lime pie. For this month's Flavor-of-the-Month round up hosted by Bake at 350, I knew I wanted to make one of those two pies in keeping with the theme of "Pucker up!" (Come to think of it, they would've worked for last month's pie theme as well!) A trip to my local grocer helped hone my decision: limes were on sale for 10 cents each. Lemons were 49 cents. Guess which one I picked?
Head on over to Bake at 350 to check out all the Flavor-of-the-Month entries!
So far I've seen three major schools of thought when it comes to preparing key lime pie:
- Traditional- egg yolks, lime juice (preferably Key Lime), and condensed milk are whisked together and poured into a crust to chill and set. This crust is usually graham cracker.
- Baked - egg yolks, lime juice, and condensed milk are whisked together and poured into a crust to bake and set.
- Pasteurized, unbaked - egg yolks and lime juice are heated to a 160°F to neutralize any nasties that might be lurking. Mixture is cooled, then combined with condensed milk and poured into a crust to chill and set.
I picked option #3 for safety reasons (though people have been doing it the uncooked way for decades without any ill effects) and because it preserves more of the traditional texture of the pie compared to the baked version.
(Key) Lime Pie
- 4 large egg yolks
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice, Key limes if ya got 'em
- Grated zest of one lime
- 1 or 2 drops green food coloring, if desired*
- 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
- Crust - graham cracker or shortbread, ready-made or homemade
- Whipped topping - real cream, non-dairy, or from an aerosol can!
*The regular liquid kind you use to dye Easter eggs with, not the super-intense Americolor® gels I love so much!
This first portion is optional. One of my biggest fears is accidentally giving someone food poisoning, so I'm gonna go ahead and do it. In the top of a double-boiler set-up, whisk egg yolks, lime juice, and lime zest together until blended. Heat mixture, whisking steadily, until it reaches 160°F. Strain mixture into a small bowl, and cool over an ice bath. Stir in food coloring, if desired. Purists may scoff at this, but since I strained out the zest, there weren't any visual cues that the pie was lime and not lemon or some other flavor.
Whisk condensed milk into egg and lime mixture until thickened. Pour into crust and refrigerate for several hours before serving with whipped topping.