Easy as Pie

By Beacon Staff

We had a house full of company last week and one of the gifts given to the resident chef – yours truly, of course – was a bag of Key limes.

Truth be told, there aren’t many things that one can do with key limes other than make the eponymous pie and it got me to thinking that the old phrase, “easy as pie” could easily have been “Easy as Key Lime pie.” It’s really the simplest thing in the world to make and a fantastic dessert, especially in summer time.

Total combined baking time for the crust and the pie is only 25 minutes. Total time to make the components is less than that, so other than the fact that this pie should chill overnight, it truly is as “easy as Key Lime pie.”

To make the crust, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. You’ll need nine graham crackers and that should yield about a cup and a quarter of fine crumbs. Just crack them into your food processor along with two tablespoons of dark brown sugar. Pulse to grind and then add five tablespoons of melted unsalted butter. Let the machine run for about 10 seconds to incorporate the butter.

Pour the mixture into a nine-inch glass pie plate and with the bottom of a measuring cup push the mixture until it goes up the sides of the plate as well as fully coating the bottom.

Par-bake the crust in the oven for about 10 minutes, then remove and set it on a rack to cool. Leave the oven on.

To make the filling, cut about 15 or 16 key limes in half and use your garlic press to squeeze the juice – you’ll need about 2 tablespoons more than a quarter cup. Key limes have small seeds and the garlic press will get just about every bit of juice while filtering out the seeds. As a precaution, though, I usually strain the juice before adding it to the other ingredients.

Those other ingredients are four egg yolks and one full can (14 ounces) of sweetened condensed milk.

Use a wire whisk to combine the juice, the yolks and the condensed milk. The thickness of the mixture should be the consistency of pudding before it sets.

Pour the mixture into the cooled pie crust and return it to the 350 oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove to a rack to cool completely and I do mean completely. Then cover the pie with plastic wrap and set it in your refrigerator for at least eight hours. Overnight is best.

It’s hard for me to imagine a simpler pie. The most difficult part is waiting until it has chilled completely before you can slice it and eat it.

I usually serve it topped with freshly whipped cream, made with a half cup of heavy cream, a teaspoon of vanilla, a tablespoon and a half of sugar, and a squeeze of one half of a key lime.

Use a bowl and a whisk that has been chilled (I usually stick my bowl and whisk in the freezer for about 10 minutes). Whisk the mixture to stiff peaks and add a dollop to each slice of your Key Lime pie.

And there you have the perfect summer dessert – and it’s as easy as Key Lime pie.

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