Over the course of this school year, I’ve become known among my Mac friend groups for baked goods just as much as for being large. It’s become a staple of my persona, to the point where some friends are jokingly angry each time I show up to a social function empty-handed (which, to be fair, is not often).
For months now the two goods that my close friends know me best for have been muffins and chocolate gake (NOT cake, which is different). But few know that when I first moved off campus last June, this key lime pie was actually the first thing I baked more than once. When I moved in just prior to starting my summer job, I took an immediate inventory of kitchenware (as foodies do) and was quite satisfied with the results. Almost anything I wanted to cook with was already present (rising juniors take note — this is the benefit of having senior roommates who have already lived off campus). The only thing I had to add was a waffle iron for Sunday brunch.
With such a plethora of instruments to choose from, it was difficult to decide what I wanted to make first, now that I was on my own (at least from a culinary standpoint) and could choose my own meals. Though I forget what the first dinner I made for myself was, I definitely know the first dessert (which is more important anyway). As I scoured Google for summertime dessert recipes, this pie caught my eye with its saliva-inducing photo and relative ease of preparation, and the rest is history. Now that summer is again right around the corner (pending a long week of exams, papers and general sleep deprivation across campus) I figured it would make a great recipe to share in the last issue of the school year.
I tested the first round of this pie on myself and my roommates, and we agreed it was quite fine. I have one roommate from Miami, who told me that key lime is actually the official pie of Florida (who knew?) and that he offered the seal of approval on behalf of his state. It turns out that the pie itself is named after a specific variety of citrus called a Key Lime, which is grown in the Florida Keys. After that first big success, I made it again for a tour guide potluck party in mid-June, and received more compliments!
Notably, both of these pies were made using Minnesota-purchased limes from Rainbow Foods, but they were still quite delicious. I’m hoping that the limes themselves were imported from Florida, and particularly somewhere in the vicinity of the Keys. I’m afraid Panhandle Lime Pie just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
One thing to note about preparation is that this recipe includes a homemade crust. You could buy a premade graham cracker crust if you wanted, but making your own is easier than it sounds, and amateurs need not be intimidated by it. Since this crust is pressed into the pan, it requires much less maintenance than traditional crusts, and you will not need a rolling pin (a plus, since that’s one of the few tools lacking from my house’s kitchen).
This is the final traditional Gastronomi Klonowski of the year! Thank you to all who have read, used and shared my recipes. Look for an even less cognizant article from me in next week’s Mock Weekly! As always, bon appetit.
Key Lime Pie
1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs, finely ground (by hand or pre-ground)
1/3 cup sugar
6 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
8 oz package cream cheese, softened
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup lime juice (about 4 limes worth)
Mix cracker crumbs, sugar, melted butter and cinnamon until well blended. Press mixture into a 9-inch pie plate (add more butter if it is too dry to press).
Bake empty pressed crust at 375 degrees for 7 minutes. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat softened cream cheese until creamy. Add condensed milk and beat to combine.
Add egg yolks and lime juice and beat to combine.
Pour filling into pie crust and spread with a spatula to distribute evenly. Bake at 350 degrees until filling begins to set (about 10 minutes).
Allow pie to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours before serving cold.