If you can't get to Florida this Winter, bring Florida to you with this traditional, tropical piece of Key Lime Pie!
Besides being a restaurant favorite, Key Lime Pie has an interesting history.
Yes, Key Lime pie was created in the Florida Keys, all the way to the 1800s. It doesn't matter who did it as much as why. Necessity is the Mother of invention and during this time, with few cows (no land to graze) and no refrigeration, canned milk and specifically sweetened condensed milk (thanks to Gail Borden in 1856) was a boon.
Key Limes were abundant in the keys during this time, but in 1926, a hurricane destroyed the Key Lime groves and Persian Limes were planted in their stead because they were easier to grow and pick.
Can I use Persian Limes instead?
Key Limes are different than Persian Limes (the ones we typically see in a grocery store). They are about the size and shape of a Ping Pong ball and pale yellow/green in color. The rind is thinner and they are juicier. They pack more acidic punch, are sweeter and have a more complex flavor (slight bitterness) than a Persian Lime.
Because of this it is not recommended to substitute Persian Limes for Key Lime Pie...however, this might apply to purists. Personally, I think it's fine to use Persian Limes and especially for this recipe. Here's a link from a woman who did a taste test with her dinner party group: same conclusion.
Having said all that, I did use Key Limes. Surprisingly you can find a whole bag of these at Walmart and not at some more high-end grocery stores. They were $3 for a bag and I used 2/3 of the bag. I juiced the entire bag and froze what I didn't use (can freeze for 3 months).
Key Limes pies are traditionally not cooked... a reaction between the condensed milk and the acid causes the filling to thicken on it's own. Egg yolks were also used to add color to the mixture and more body. , Today, because consuming raw eggs can be dangerous, pies of this nature are usually baked for a short time or in my recipe, not used at all.
Key Lime Chiffon Pie with Coconut-Ginger Crust
Plan on making this early in the day, or day before so it can fully set.
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut
1 package of Biscoff Cookies
1/2 cup melted butter
4 Tbsp flour
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh squeezed Lime Juice (about 12 key limes...just buy the 1 lb bag which should give you 12-16 key limes)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup whipping cream ( not whipped)
1 cup whipped cream (not whipped)
2 Tbsp Sugar
Candied Lime Peel (recipe below)
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Crush cookies (either by hand or in food processor). Process Coconut (or chop by hand) until broken up a bit. Mix cookie crumbs, coconut, flour and melted butter in a bowl and press into a 9" deep dish removable tart pan, or whichever pan you want. I like to remove it so I can see the pretty crust. Press well into dish. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and refrigerate for at least an hour or until cool to the touch.
Beat both cups of whipping cream until stiff. Place in a separate bowl.
Beat cream cheese and condensed milk well. Add juice and mix. Add sour cream and mix. Remove from mixer and fold in half of the whipped cream. Pour into chilled crust. cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until set.
When ready to serve, remove plastic wrap. You can smooth over top with butter knife if necessary. Mix sugar to remaining whipped cream and then spoon into a piping bag and pipe decoratively around edge of pie. Place candied Lime peel in center of pie. Slice & serve!
This makes enough crust & filling for a 9" deep dish pie. It has a healthy crust to pie filling ratio. If you have extra crust and filling because you are making a smaller pie, you can make a few smaller individual pies or little bites, or even squares.
If you're not a coconut fan (but it adds a nice chewy texture) you can replace it with more cookie crumbs or chopped nuts.
Key Lime juice is not green, so your pie filling will be pale.
Key Limes Pies are always tart and creamy...I've added fluffy to the mixture, but if you prefer more of a custard type pie, just omit folding in the whipped cream to the mixture.
Candied Lime Peel
Because this pie has little color or texture, topping it with some candied Lime peel is a perfect touch. However, it's a bit of work and totally optional. You could also finely grated Lime peel (use a Micro Plane) onto top the whipped cream, but go easy as it will be tart and might interfere with the texture.
Peel from 1 Persian Lime OR
Peel from 3 Key Limes
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup superfine sugar (but regular sugar can be used as well)
If you have a zester, cut long strips from your limes before you juice. Even though this recipe calls for 3 Key Limes, I kept zesting all the limes, since I was juicing them all anyway. Whatever you don't use for the pie, keep in an airtight container for 3 days or 3 weeks in the refrigerator.
First step: Blanch the peel.
Immerse peel in boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove with a fine sieve and place in a bowl of ice water. Repeat this step. This will remove any bitterness from the peel.
2nd step: Cook & Sweeten.
Boil 1 1/2 cups sugar with 1/2 cup water, still until sugar dissolves. Add peel to mixture and cook for 15-20 minutes until peel is tender (like pasta, al dente).
3rd step: Remove from sugar water with a slotted spoon and place on a wire rack set over some paper towel to catch the drips. After the peel stops dripping, use tongs to place on a small plate with super fine sugar. Toss a bit to cover and remove the stickiness. Super yummy! Plus it adds some texture and color to the pie.