If I could retire anywhere, it would definitely be the Florida Keys. From the very first time I went there when I was 7 years old, I have been in love with that place. The laid back lifestyle, scuba diving and deep sea fishing right in your back yard, and the amazingly friendly locals make it my idea of heaven.
I remember the first time I went, my Dad and I stumbled upon a dying Portuguese Man-O-War (type of jellyfish) on the rocks on the shore. (In retrospect I’m pretty sure that thing was dead already.) My animal loving 7-year-old self couldn’t stand the thought of leaving it out to dry (literally.) So I begged my Dad to rescue it and put it back in the water. He graciously played along and saved the little gel ball. I just knew that the jelly man was going to pay me back by telling all his little jelly friends of our act of kindness and you know what, till this day I have never been stung by a jellyfish of any kind. Coincidence? I’ll let you decide…
Anywho, in addition to the lifestyle of The Keys, I fell in love with the food. Fresh seafood, limes in my tea rather than lemon (try it sometime!), conch fritters, and especially Key Lime Pie. Many birthdays my cake wasn’t cake, but Key Lime Pie! This tangy, sweet and tart dessert is one of my all time favorites. Since I don’t make it to The Keys much anymore, I had to find a recipe for this lovely dessert to satisfy my cravings. It’s much cheaper than plane tickets… 😉
- 9 graham crackers (one plastic package of grahams from the box)
- 5 tablespoons melted butter + 1 more non-melted for greasing the pie pan
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- zest from 1 and ½ limes (about 1½ teaspoons)
- 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
- ⅔ cup fresh squeezed lime juice (from about 10 limes or 30 key limes.)
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
- Juice your limes before you start anything. Here's a little tip on getting as much juice as possible out of the limes. Pop them into the microwave for 20 - 30 seconds. After, roll the limes on the counter a few times. Cut in half and squeeze as much juice as possible out of each. If you have a lot of time, go ahead and use the key limes. I got to key lime number 16 and realized I didn't have the patience for this so I switched to the regular ones. Either way works just fine. Be sure to strain the seeds and pulp out before you add the juice to the filling a little later on.
- Preheat oven to 350. In a food processor, add graham crackers and pulse till you get a fine sand-like texture. Add the sugar and melted butter and pulse a few more times till all three ingredients are combined. If you don't have a food processor, you can crush up the grahams in a Ziplock bag and mix the crumbs, sugar and butter in a bowl. Grease a 9 inch pie plate with the remaining butter. Press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes and let cool a bit afterwards.
- While the crust is baking, whip the egg yolks and lime zest with an electric mixer with the whisk attachment until fluffy. Slowly add in the condensed milk. Finally, decrease the mixer speed to low and slowly add in the lime juice. Don't mix too long here; just until the juice is incorporated. Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake for 10 - 12 minutes at 350. You'll want the pie filling to not shake at all when you wiggle the pie pan. Let cool about 30 minutes then pop into the fridge.
- For the topping, whip the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon on high with a hand mixer till a fluffy, thick whipped topping forms. I found it helps to put the pie in the freezer for 10 - 15 minutes before cutting. Serve a dollop of topping on each pie slice and garnish with a lime slice if desired.