Key Lime Pie

I don’t remember the first time I had key lime pie, but I do remember exactly where I got this recipe: from an in-flight magazine at least 20 years ago. It was at the end of a two-page article in which author Ellen Kanner describes savoring real key lime pie as she was growing up. I taped the two pages together, punched holes on the side, and have kept it in my binder ever since.

Kanner described how key lime pie should be “tangy and sweet, bracing and cool, the crunch of the crust a perfect foil for the creamy filling.” And, of course, it must be yellow. Key limes are light yellow when they’re ripe — not green — so their juice is, too.

Some people garnish their pies with strips of green rind from regular limes, which I find OK, but I’d rather just have just a dollop of whipped cream. There is way too much flavor going on with the pie for me to want much more than that. I just want to dig in!

I do recommend making the graham cracker crust yourself. Although you can certainly use a prepared one, a homemade crust looks and tastes better, and is a lot easier to make than you might think. In just a few steps, you’ll have a buttery, crisp, delicious pie crust. (If you do use a store-bought crust, make sure it’s for a 9-inch pie — some are 10 inches and that’s too large.)

The ingredients here are the same as those in the magazine article from so many years ago, though I recently tweaked it to make the pie hold up better.

Graham cracker crust:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and press firmly into a 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 350F degrees for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool while you prepare the filling. Keep oven on.

Key lime pie filling:

4 egg yolks
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp. key lime juice

With an electric mixer (not by hand!), beat the egg yolks until lemony*. Add the condensed milk and continue beating for about 3 minutes. Add the key lime juice and beat until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Pour into prepared pie crust and bake at 350F for 10 minutes. Remove, let cool, and refrigerate at least 6 hours before serving.

*What does “lemony” mean when beating egg yolks? It refers to the way the color of the yolks changes slightly and becomes yellower when they’re beaten. Egg yolks — along with whole eggs and egg whites — hold air bubbles well; the air that’s incorporated when you beat yolks makes them lighter in color.

Easy Dessert Recipes for When You’re Stuck at Home

Cooking is a great activity while we’re all stuck at home these days, trying to find things to do. Learn some new recipes, make some comfort food, or spend time cooking with someone. If you have children, cooking can be a fun activity together. Food is one way we can help ourselves feel better during this crazy time.

I looked through my dessert cookbook and found four recipes that are easy and require five ingredients or fewer, mostly with items you’re still likely to find at the store (though we had a hard time finding eggs the other day). These are favorites of mine.

Coconut Macaroons
1 14-oz. package sweetened shredded coconut
2/3 cup sugar
6 Tbsp. flour
¼ tsp. salt
4 egg whites
And I always include this, but you can make it optional: 1 tsp. almond extract

Heat oven to 325F (about 160C) degrees and lightly grease a baking sheet. Mix everything but the egg whites in a large bowl. Stir in the egg whites, and the almond extract if using, until blended. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto baking sheet and bake 20 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.

And to use up the yolks, make this next recipe! (You don’t even have to bake it!)

Key Lime Pie
1 pre-made graham cracker crumb crust
4 egg yolks
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
½ cup + 1 Tbsp. key lime juice

Beat the egg yolks until lemony (you’ll notice the color change to more of a yellow color), then add sweetened condensed milk and continue beating for 3 minutes. Pour in the key lime juice and beat until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Pour into prepared shell and refrigerate at least 6 hours before serving.

Tip: Whipped cream is great to have on top when you serve it.

Easiest Cookies Ever
1 box of cake mix – any kind is fine, but I use white cake mix
1 stick of butter, softened
1 egg

Mix everything in a bowl, form into balls, and bake on greased baking sheets for 10 minutes at 350F (175C) degrees.

Frozen Lemonade Squares
9 graham cracker rectangles
¼ cup butter
1 quart (4 cups/1/4 gallon) frozen vanilla yogurt, softened
6 oz. (half a can) frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed (make lemonade with the rest!)
Optional: Blueberries

Finely crush graham crackers. Melt butter and mix with crumbs. Press into bottom of 9-inch square metal pan. Thoroughly mix yogurt and lemonade concentrate. Spread over crust. Freeze 4 hours or until firm. Serve with blueberries on top.