29 Mar 2017
The Story Behind Key Limes in Key West
Where did key lime pie originate?
They say key lime pie originated in Key West some time toward the end of the 1800s. As the story goes, one William Curry, a prominent Key West resident and Bahamian-born immigrant who became Florida’s first millionaire, had a cook called “Aunt Sally” who concocted the first pie from key limes.
Difference between lime and key lime?
It is smaller and seedier, with a higher acidity, a stronger aroma, and a thinner rind, than that of the Persian lime (Citrus × latifolia). It is valued for its unique flavor compared to other limes.
Classic recipe (a la Pepe’s Café):
Makes 8 servings
- For the graham cracker crust:
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs from about 12 (2 1/4-inch by 4 3/4-inch) crackers
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- For the filling:
- 2 large egg whites
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup fresh or bottled Key lime juice
- To serve:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- Special equipment: 9-inch pie plate, stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (optional)
- Make the graham cracker crust:
- Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon. Drizzle with the melted butter and stir until well combined. Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake until set and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Leave the oven on.
- Make the filling:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or a large mixing bowl with a whisk or hand mixer, beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk. Add the lime juice and whisk until combined. Gently fold in about 1/3 of the egg whites to lighten the mixture then add the remaining egg whites and fold until just evenly combined. Gently spread the mixture in the pre-baked crust and bake until just set in the center, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely then refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. DO AHEAD: The pie can be baked and stored, covered, in the refrigerator, up to 3 days.
- Garnish and serve:
- In a medium bowl, combine the heavy cream and sugar and whisk until soft peaks form. Cut the pie into slices and top each with a dollop of whipped cream.