I had my first slice of this little bit of heaven as a teenager when we were visiting Florida. I had obviously ordered something full of gooey chocolate while the rest of the family decided to try the key Lime Pie, which is a speciality of Florida as it uses limes found in the Florida keys. (I'm sorry, no offense meant, but I do think the Indian tart limes work just as well. In any case one must make do with whatever is available!) Needless to say, even chocolate faded in comparison. I must mention that as a child I did not dislike chocolate as much as I do now. Maybe this was the beginning?
Anyway back to the dessert: Key Lime Pie is made of lime juice, egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk in a biscuit crust, yes like a cheesecake. The original Bahaman native version also adds meringue topping so the egg whites are not wasted.
During mixing, a reaction between the condensed milk and the acidic lime juice occurs that causes the filling to thicken on its own without requiring baking. Many early recipes for Key lime pie did not require baking the pie, relying on this thickening to produce the proper consistency of the filling. Today, because consuming raw eggs can be dangerous, pies of this nature are usually baked for a short time. The baking also thickens the texture more than the reaction alone.
Despite its tart center, the top juxtaposes it adding more sweet flavors in some pies.
If you check online, there are tons of recipes for this this. Here is my favourite by Martha Stewart.
A few tips:
- Digestive biscuits are a great substitute for graham crackers.
- If the meringue part looks scary (I have friends who are petrified) omit it. It tastes great even without it.
- Do not try this in the hot summers, wait till it's cooler. The humidity in the air makes everything go flat.
- If you are making the meringue and you do not have a blowtorch (I don't) bake in the oven for about 10 to 12 minutes (180 degrees C) , it will have a similar effect.
- All the best. Do let me know how it goes!