Key lime pie

Serve the bright flavors of key lime pie for Pi Day (3.14) and then save a slice for a bit of green on St. Patrick’s Day.

Kitchen Report
Celebrate Pi Day (March 14) with the summery taste of key lime pie.

On Pi Day (March 14) any pie fits.

The days may be longer but winter in Boston is dragging on. And on. And on. At first, a summery key lime pie might sound like an odd choice for a winter afternoon but actually it just may be that bright splash of citrus flavor that everyone is craving. I made one recently for pie potluck birthday party.

To check off the shopping list, I went searching for key limes. Finding none in the large grocery store I visited, I tracked down a produce guy unloading a carton of cabbages nearby.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “We used to carry key limes. But nobody bought them and they spoil really fast so we had to keep tossing them out.”

Good to know. So I settled for some regular limes. Because key limes are smaller and pack a more intense flavor, my solution was to find a recipe that uses zest in the pie filling – an easy way to heighten the citrus taste.

This is a simple pie to make. Just give yourself enough time to refrigerate it and then freeze a few minutes before serving so the pie is nice and firm when you slice into it.

(Key) lime pie

For the crust:
 1 sleeve of graham crackers (about 9 graham crackers)
 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
 1/3 cup sugar

For the pie filling:
 Zest of 1 large or 2 small limes, about 1-1/2 teaspoons
 3 egg yolks
 1 14-ounce can sweet condensed milk
 2/3 cup freshly squeeze lime juice, about 4 or 5 large limes (key limes are smaller)

For the topping:
 I cup heavy or whipping cream, chilled
 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F., and butter a 9-inch pie pan.

2. Either wrap a tea towel around the sleeve of graham crackers and pound with a rolling pin or pulse in a food processor until the crackers are reduced to fine crumbs. Pulse in the melted butter and sugar (or if pounding, add graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar to a bowl, and stir until combined).

3. With a large tablespoon gently press the buttery crumbs into the pie plate and bake for about 8 minutes until it just begins to turn a darker golden brown. Remove and set on a wire rack. Keep the oven on.

4. In a mixing bowl with a wire whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks on high with the lime zest for 5 minutes until they are nice and fluffy.

5. Gradually add the sweetened condensed milk and continue mixing on high for another 3 to 4 minutes.

6. Reduce the beater speed to low and carefully add lime juice. Stop mixing once the juice is fully incorporated. Do not overmix.

7. Pour into the graham cracker crust and bake for 10 minutes or until the pie has set. One tip: Look for tiny air holes evenly across the surface of the pie. If you see them in the center the pie is set.

8. Cool fully on a wire rack, then refrigerate. Freeze for 15 or 20 minutes right before serving.

9. To make the topping, whip the cream and sugar together until soft peaks form.

10. Slice, add topping, and serve!

Related post on Kitchen Report: Chocolate pecan pie

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