Key lime pie is the quintessential Florida dessert. One bite of key lime pie will transport you to sandy beaches and sunny days. A delicious crust, tart filling, and a whipped cream or merengue topping is all one needs for a perfect pie. I have always had a love-hate relationship with key lime pies. They vary in tartness and execution from one establishment or household to the next. Lots of Floridians make their pies with store-bought crusts or bottled key lime juice, but in my opinion, when a dessert is so simple, with so few ingredients, you shouldn’t skimp where it counts.
Don’t get me wrong, squeezing all those damn tiny key limes is quite a feat, after about 10 key limes I was cursing myself for deciding to take the seemingly difficult route. Take my advice here, do NOT use a juicer. The tiny key limes fit perfectly into a garlic press, and this will save you a considerable amount of time and stress- unless you have a citrus press– then by all means do your thing. Life became easier with the garlic press and we were well on our way to creating the perfect key lime pie filling.
Gingersnap cookies make an excellent key lime pie crust; the ginger adds a nice hint of spice and sweetness and is a great twist on the classic graham cracker crust. If you are a key lime pie purist and swear by a classic graham cracker crust then add an 1/8 or a ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon to jazz it up a bit, and a half cup of ground pecans for more depth. Key lime pie with gingersnap crust, fresh whipped cream, and candied key lime zest will surely make it into your dessert arsenal and have your guests asking for the coveted recipe. Wake up your taste buds with this sweet and tart Florida classic, and treat yourself to a taste of the keys.
Key Lime Pie with Gingersnap Crust:
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice (around 20 key limes)
¼ cup key lime zest
2 egg yolks
12 ounces (or 1 box) gingersnaps
1 stick of butter
1 tablespoon sugar (for the ‘candied’ zest)
For the Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
Preheat your oven to 350F. Zest around 7 key limes and set aside. Juice enough key limes to make one cup of juice. The bag of key limes I bought said it took around 14-15, but I believe I used nearly 20. The garlic press doesn’t do the best job at getting every last drop of juice out of the limes, but it is sure a hell of a lot easier than trying to juice the each tiny lime! Strain juice through a sieve to remove any seeds and excess pulp.
Grind the entire box of gingersnaps well in a food processor and pour into the pie dish. Add one stick of melted butter and mix with a fork. Press the crust into the pie trying to maintain an even thickness; set aside.
Next pour the sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, and fresh key lime juice together and mix well with a KitchenAid or handmixer (I made a little extra pie filling to make some cupcakes, but only use 2 egg yolks for one pie!). Add 2 teaspoons of the key lime zest to the pie filling. Pour into the gingersnap crust pie shell and bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until set.
Allow the pie to cool on the counter top to room temperature before placing in the refrigerator to cool completely for several hours or overnight. When you are ready to serve the pie make the whipped cream. Place a bowl and whisk in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes or until very cold. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar and one cup of heavy whipping cream to the bowl and whisk on high until the cream forms stiff peaks- around 3-4 minutes.
Mix the remaining lime zest with a tablespoon of sugar to sprinkle on top of the key lime pie as a lovely bright garnish. Top with whipped cream, candied key lime zest, slice and serve!