Making Key lime pie is one of the most popular uses for Key limes. Key lime pie is made with key lime juice, egg yolks, and sweetened condensed milk, usually baked in a graham cracker pie crust, though originally they were baked in a traditional pastry crust. No one really knows for sure who “invented” the first Key lime pie, but the most popular theory is that William Curry
, Florida’s first self-made millionaire, had a cook known as Aunt Sally, who created the pie sometime in the late 1800s. The pie relies on sweetened condensed milk because, up until the construction of the Overseas Highway
in 1930, there was no refrigeration in the Keys and thus, no fresh milk or ice was available. Since there was no fresh milk, local cooks had to rely on canned sweetened condensed milk, which was invented in 1856 by the Gail Borden
Dorie’s Florida Pie is essentially a traditional key lime pie lined with a layer of coconut cream. It is brilliant because that layer of sweet creaminess really balances out the tartness of the Key lime filling. I opted to use a store bought crust for this pie. I was pressed for time and succumbed to convenience. Please don’t throw rotten Key limes at me! Dorie says in the book that she usually does this too, so I figured it was okay.
There is also an age-old debate as to the proper way to top a Key lime pie: meringue, whipped cream, or neither. Dorie’s recipe calls for a meringue topping which is either broiled or torched. I decided to top mine with freshly whipped cream sprinkled with a little toasted coconut. I like it better that way. So sue me!
Dorie’s Florida Pie
1 9-inch graham cracker crust (page 235), fully baked and cooled, or a store-bought crust
1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
4 large eggs, separated
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh Key (or regular) lime juice (from about 5 regular limes)
1/4 cup of sugar
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet lined with parchment of a silicone mat.
Put the cream and 1 cup of the coconut in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring almost constantly. Continue to cook and stir until the cream is reduced by half and the mixture is slightly thickened. Scrape the coconut cream into a bowl and set it aside while you prepare the lime filling.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl beat the egg yolks at high speed until thick and pale. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the condensed milk. Still on low, add half of the lime juice. When it is incorporated, add the remaining juice, again mixing until it is blended.
Spread the coconut cream in the bottom of the graham cracker crust, and pour over the lime filling. Bake the pie for 12 minutes. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and cool for 15 minutes, then freeze the pie for at least 1 hour.
To Finish the Pie with Meringue:
Put the 4 egg whites and the sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, whisking all the while, until the whites are hot to the touch. Transfer the whites to a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, or use a hand mixer in a large bowl, and beat the whites at high speed until they reach room temperature and hold firm peaks.
Using a rubber spatula, fold the remaining 1/2 cup coconut into the meringue. Spread the meringue over the top of the pie, and run the pie under the broiler until the top of the meringue is golden brown. (Or, if you’ve got a blowtorch, you can use it to brown the meringue.)
Return the pie to the freezer for another 30 minutes or for up to 3 hours before serving.
To Finish the Pie with Whipped Cream:
Freeze untopped pie for 30 minutes.
Whip 2 cups of cold heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add 1/4 cup sugar and continue whipping until stiff peaks form. Pile whipped cream over the top of the pie and top with toasted coconut, if desired.