In need of some winter sun but no travel plans for the near future? Then get at least virtually transported to the beautiful Florida Keys with a delicious Key Lime Pie.
If you are dreaming to escape the cold and dark western European winter travelling to the Florida Keys, you are not alone!
This sun-kissed, subtropical archipelago is paradise found for many. Indeed, returning to Miami and making the trip all the way down to Key West is high on my own bucket list.
Rightfully regarded as one of the most beautiful road trips in the world, the roughly 125 miles (200 kilometres) starting at the southern-most tip of Florida at Key Lago will lead you to places such as Islamorada, crossing the 7-Mile-Bridge at Marathon, Big Pine and finally ending at Key West. The area is famous for its white sandy beaches, snorkelling, diving, fishing, colourful houses, palm trees, mangrove islets and coral reefs … and Key Lime Pie.
This famous Florida dessert has indeed its origins right here at the Keys.
More precisely – or at least that’s how the story goes – it was invented at the Curry Mansion Inn in Key West by a woman known as Aunt Sally.
On the other hand, old records from the late 19th century mention a dish called ‘sponge pie’ which was eaten by sponge divers and fisherman. It consisted of Cuban bread dipped in sweetened condensed milk, key lime juice and eggs. Which indeed pretty much resembles a classic Key Lime Pie.
Since the location and time of both stories coincide which each other, the truth might be somewhere in between.
What’s undisputed is that the dessert was made the official dessert/pie of Florida in 2006 and it’s served at most restaurants all over the Keys and the rest of Florida.
By the way, one thing you will hardly find locally any longer are key limes. There might be still some grown privately, and few are also growing wild, but the frequent local hurricanes and a plant disease known as citrus canker are prohibitive to growing the fruits commercially.
This means, Key Lime Pie will be made with the more common Persian lime even locally. No worries though, what will end up on your plate is still a deliciously refreshing smooth mixture of tart and sweet.
There is no need for an excuse to whip up this easy dessert but with National Pie Day coming up on January 23rd, followed hot on the heal by Florida Day on January 25th, what are you waiting for?
If you want to stick with the authentic Key Lime Pie recipe, this asks for a meringue topping. Which might sound tricky as meringue is usually requires a long time in the oven at low heat to make sure it does not get burned.
Well, the original Key Lime Pie (or say the slightly modernized form closest to the original because the original was actually a no-bake recipe) is served with a lightly burned brownish meringue crust.
If you really want to avoid this, swap the egg-white meringue with a whipped cream topping after the pie is baked.
So if you are looking to be swept away to a far-flung sunny location but can’t go, this easy key lime pie will at least make your day a bit sunnier once you put it on the table!
Recipe: Key Lime Pie
For a pie pan of 24 cm
250 g graham crackers (alternative shortbread cookies)
150 g butter, melted
4 eggs, separated
420 ml sweetened condensed milk
150 ml lime juice
zest of one lime (optional)
30 g sugar
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Crush the crackers into fine crumps. Stir in the melted butter. Use a fork to mix, making sure the mixture is evenly moistened.
Line a pie pan with the mixture, pressing tightly to make sure it holds firmly together.
Bake the crust for about 10 minutes then set aside and let cool.
Whisk together the egg yolks, condensed milk, lime juice and zest until well thickened. Pour into the cooked crust.
Whisk two egg whites until stiff. Add a pinch of salt and the sugar and continue to beat for another minute.
Top the pie with the stiff egg whites, either completely covering the filling or use a teaspoon to place dollops of the egg white on top.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the filling is almost set.
Take out and let cool to room temperature, then put into the fridge for a few hours before serving to make sure the filling will be fully set.
If you opt for a whipped cream topping, add this just before serving.