The Ultimate Key Lime Pie

Kate Key Lime Pie 1174x1174

Fun. Soft. Creamy. Sassy.

All of these words describe my beautiful daughter Kate Kelly AND the Key Lime Pie she is holding.

For birthdays, I make each child’s favorite dinner and dessert, and Kate always chooses Key Lime Pie.

Has anyone ever asked you the question “If you were a pie, what kind would you be?” – like Barbara Walters asking people what kind of tree they would be, this question reveals a lot about a person. And Kate is exactly a Key Lime Person. She adds flavor and zest to life in so many ways. She is assertive – tangy – but also has a soft and compassionate side – creamy if you will. I am so very lucky to be Kate’s mom – it is exceptional to have a child that has lived her life in such a way that a parent admires and respects – and even looks up to her child. But it is true of Kate. She fights injustices with every bone in her body and then some. Right now she is in the Dominican Republic doing research with a human rights committee. But she also makes room in her life for adventures, such as the group she and hubby Neil started – Passionate International Gastronomers.

Today, on Pi Day, 3-14, I pay tribute to Kate and her Key Lime Pie.  May your adventures be eternal, my sweetie!

I followed America’s Test Kitchen, but tweaked it to add lime zest, making it limey-er.

Wish you were here to share a tangy slice, Kate!

Kate's Pie Party

Kate’s Pie Party 2010


2 TABLESPOONS grated zest and 1/2 cup  juice from 3 to 4 limes
4 large egg yolks
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

Graham cracker crust

9 graham crackers (5 ounces) broken into rough pieces
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and kept warm
optional: 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Whipped cream topping

3/4 cup chilled heavy cream
1/4 cup (1 ounce) confectioner’s sugar

optional garnish:

1/2 lime, sliced paper-thin and dipped in granulated sugar


The filling: Whisk the zest and yolks in a medium nonreactive bowl until tinted light green, about 2 minutes. Beat in the condensed milk, then the juice; set aside at room temperature to thicken (about 30 minutes).

The crust: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a food processor, process the graham crackers until evenly fine, about 30 seconds (you should have 1 cup crumbs). Add the sugar (plus optional cinnamon) and pulse to combine. Continue to pulse while adding the warm melted butter in a steady stream; pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand.

For Whole Pie: Transfer the crumbs to a 9-inch glass pie plate and evenly press the crumbs into the plate, using your thumbs and a 1/2 cup measuring cup to square off the top of the crust. Bake the crust until it is fragrant and beginning to brown, 15-18 minutes; transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

For Individual Tarts: Use any size mini tart pan, from 1-3 inches wide, to make individual tarts. Using the prepared graham cracker crumb mixture, place enough crumbs into each mini pan to pat down bottom and press up sides, creating a firm crumb “wall.” Place tarts on sheet pan and bake as directed above, until just fragrant and beginning to brown. Cool before filling.

To Fill: For whole pie, pour the lime filling into pie crust (for mini tarts, fill to approximately 2/3 full). Bake until the center is set yet wiggly when jiggled, 15-17 minutes. Return pie (or tarts) to a wire rack, and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours. Pies or tarts can be covered directly with lightly oiled plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to one day.

For Topping: Up to 2 hours before serving, whip the cream in the chilled bowl of an electric mixer to very soft peaks. Adding the confectioner’s sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, continue whipping to just-stiff peaks. Decoratively pipe the whipped cream over the filling or spread whipped cream evenly with a rubber spatula. Garnish with sugared lime slices, if desired, and serve.

I am not alone in my key lime love:

Maria makes Key Lime goodness for Josh at Two Peas and their Pod
Real Moms make Easy key Lime Pie and Hey! So creative! Key Lime Fudge
Jamie at My Baking Addiction made Key Lime Ice Cream that looks luscious
Anything Dara makes at Cookin Canuck is fabulous – so I must try her Key Lime Pie Gelato

And, can’t wait to try Barbara’s Whipped Key Lime Curd Tarts! 


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