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There is only one real authentic recipe for Key Lime Pie, a long-time staple in Key West, although there's many yummy variations.    "Conchs", as Key West residents are known, have made this pie since long before refrigeration.   There were no cows in Key West, so canned milk was the only dairy product available, originally brought in by ship, later by Flagler's train, and finally by highway.  

Authentic Key Lime pie uses tiny yellow Key limes, which are bursting with juice, have more acid and a stronger lime flavor than large limes.  Most Key lime trees have wicked thorns, but thornless ones are available.  We had a thornless one for many years, but the Florida Department of Agriculture's Canker eradication just cut ours down, so we will have to make do with Persian limes from the grocery from now on.   As for the pie, here's the real thing, and it's yellow like Key limes, never green.  It's a very rich pie and a little goes a long way.  Use a Graham Cracker Crust for low calories and fat, or a Stir and Roll Pie Crust.   Or use My Cheating Pie Crust.  For more information, go to A Complete Guide to Key Lime Pie with video instructions. Variations on the theme of Key Lime Pie follow.

Authentic Key Lime Pie 

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk 
3 egg yolks 
1/2 cup Key Lime Juice 
1 9-inch baked pie shell  

Whisk the egg yolks into the condensed milk. Add the lime juice little by little, stirring until mixture starts to thicken.  Scrape into the pie shell and let it chill and set up. 

Some people make meringue with the remaining whites and dress the top of the pie.  Some people prefer it with whipped cream or whipped topping, definitely a later invention.

Be aware that non-pasteurized eggs, served raw as is the case with this pie,  could carry dangerous salmonella germs.   

Here's one that's usually made with green Persian limes.

Rich Key Lime Pie

3 oz. cream cheese, reduced fat or Neufchatel, softened
1 egg yolk
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lime juice
2 teaspoons grated lime peel

Beat together the cream cheese, egg yolk and condensed milk.  Whisk in the lime juice and grated lime peel.  Pour into a baked pie shell or a graham cracker pie crust.  Serve plain or topped with meringue or whipped topping (reduced calorie) if desired.

See previous warning about uncooked eggs.

Here's my version without the danger of salmonella.

Safe & Easy Key Lime Pie

1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup milk
grated peel of one lime, outside part only (avoid white)
2 Tablespoons corn starch
1/2 cup lime juice
graham crackers

Line a 9" pie plate with graham crackers, breaking them as needed.

Beat egg yolks.   Place condensed milk in a deep glass microwave-safe bowl.   Heat in the microwave on high until milk starts to boil, stirring every 15 seconds.   Remove from oven.  Add a tablespoon at a time of hot condensed milk to the egg yolks while whisking them.  After incorporating about five or six tablespoons into the yolks, scrape the yolk mixture into the milk, mixing well.

Microwave again, whisking every 15 seconds, until mixture boils.   Remove from oven.

Whisk together the grated lime peel, cornstarch and milk.  Add slowly to the condensed milk and yolks, mixing well.   Return to the microwave and bring to a full boil, whisking every 15 seconds.

Remove from oven again.  Stir in the lime juice, mixing gently but thoroughly.  Pour immediately into the graham cracker lined pie plate.  Chill well.

Note:  if you wish to make the cream cheese version, beat the softened cream cheese and egg yolks together.  Proceed as above.

If you feel the need for white stuff on top, use the egg whites to make White Mountain Icing.

Bev Avery's Final Word Key Lime Pie

1. First, you need 4 cans of any brand of fat free sweetened condensed milk.  This will make 2 deep dish pies.

2. Get 1 dozen eggs. This will be enough for both pies and the correct topping of meringue.

3. One package of frozen deep dish pie shells, unless you want to make this an all day project by making your own crusts from scratch.  Not for me!

4. Purchase one (1) bottle of NELLIE AND JOE'S KEY LIME JUICE, usually in the section where canned pie fillings are.  This is the real stuff, the only ingredient being authentic Key Lime juice.  Clever, huh?

5. Bake the pie shells until they are slightly brown.

6. Now here's the easy part: the recipe is on the bottle.  We like ours a little more tart than the recipe calls for, but it's up to you.

7. It takes two cans of the condensed milk for one deep dish pie. Just double the recipe on the bottle.

8. If you are going to make 2 pies, you will just about need most of the bottle. The recipe on the bottle is only for one dinky little pie.   Use 3 oz. to 1/4 cup lime juice to start with for EACH can of condensed milk, and add more as needed, or about 3/4 to 1 cup for 2 pies.

9. Combine all that stuff in a bowl with the egg yolks, (all 12 for 2 pies) and keep testing the tartness, but be careful when you add more.  Pour into the shells and bake.

10. The bottle says to bake the filing in the crust for 10 minutes.  This really doesn't do anything but kill off bacteria in the eggs.  But if you want the fungie-mungie, don't bake them.  Save all the whites of the eggs for the meringue.

11.  Let the two pies cool, then make the meringue, put back in a hot oven until the tips you have created turn a little brown.

12. That's all it takes, and you're an official Key Lime Pie maker!

Serve cold.  Warm Key Lime Pie tends to seek its own level on your plate.  The work to make these is not worth just one pie.  They freeze well, so make enough to drag out on a rainy day.  The calorie count is high, but what isn't, that's worth eating?

Beat egg whites in a clean dry glass or metal bowl until they begin to form soft peaks.  Gradually add 2 T. sugar for each egg white (that's about 1 1/2 cups for 12 egg whites) beating between additions until stiff and glossy.


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