If forced to choose, I would probably pick something chocolatey as my all-time favourite dessert. Maybe a black forest gateau, or a chocolate torte. And I’d be wrong. Because when it comes to puddings, the one that holds the key to my heart is a zesty and sharp key lime pie.
There’s nothing better than the silky smooth lime filling, especially if it’s packed full of lime flavour, and light on the sweetness. And the recipe I’m sharing with you today is EVEN BETTER, thanks to the addition of a ginger biscuit crumb crust. Ginger and lime is my true valentine 😍
Where do I even start?
Okay, let’s kick off with the buttery biscuit base. If you’ve been around here before then you’ll know that pastry is not really my area of expertise. I’ll dabble occasionally, but I’d much prefer to start every tart off with a cookie crumb crust instead. Blend up some ginger biscuits – I used McVities Ginger Nuts – and then add some melted butter. You’re going to be aiming for something that resembles wet sand, and no, you don’t need any extra sugar. Extra sugar is the nemesis of a good key lime pie!
I use the bottom of one of my measuring cups to press the buttery biscuits into the bottom of the tart tin, but you can use the end of a rolling pin or the flat bottom of a glass or mug. Or even your hands if you don’t mind getting a bit messy. You need to make sure everything’s compact and well pressed down to avoid it falling apart when you take it out of the tin.
As you can see from the photos, I used a rectangular tart tin for today’s key lime pie. This isn’t required – a 9 inch round tart tin will work just as well for this recipe. I’m just a sucker for rectangular desserts. I love a good angular shape – it’s the maths graduate in me.
Talking of angular shapes – those absolutely gorgeous octagonal dessert plates are my new favourite blog prop! Katie got them for me for my recent birthday (yep, I’m 30 now) and I’m ever so much in love. They are just the perfect size for a slice of pie or cake, so expect them to be popping up around here religiously in future!
Back to the pie.
Once you’ve baked and cooled the buttery biscuit base, it’s time to make that silky smooth filling. If you’ve never made a key lime pie then I’m sure you’re going to be surprised at how easy it is. There’s no custard-making involved, and no saucepans in sight. Just three basic ingredients – egg yolks, condensed milk, and some limes.
Yeah seriously. That’s it.
When it comes to limes, a true key lime pie is made with (you guessed it) – key limes. These are a special type of smaller lime that can be found in the Florida Keys, as well as other places around the world. And they are impossible to get hold of in the UK. The good news is that you can definitely just use good old regular limes instead, and you’ll never really notice the difference.
I used key lime juice in my pie, but that’s because I’ve just got back from my holidays in Florida, and I had the luxury of being able to bring a bottle of juice back with me. I used regular lime zest though, as I don’t think whole key limes would have made it back in one piece in my case.
Maybe I’m just weird, but the strangest thing to me about a key lime pie is that you have to bake it. The first time I ever made one I presumed that it would just need to chill and set in the fridge – how wrong I was! The filling is made with egg yolks, and to turn these into a thick custardy filling of course you’re going to need to add some heat. Duh. Once baked for 15 minutes, cool the pie down to room temperature, and then pop into the fridge to chill for a couple of hours before serving. No one wants a warm key lime pie!
To decorate, I piped little rosettes of whipped double cream on top, using a piping bag and a large closed star piping nozzle. The different sizes of rosettes were all created with the same tip – pipe more cream for larger rosettes and less cream for smaller ones. Nice and easy, and minimal washing up. Feel free to do something more intricate, or even just dollop the whipped cream on top and sprinkle with some lime zest if you’re not feeling very creative.
So that’s it! One of the easiest desserts around, and definitely the tastiest. Next time you’re having friends round for dinner be sure to pop one of these pies down in the middle of the table and watch as everyone can’t get enough.
- 300g (10.5oz) ginger biscuits - I used McVities Ginger Nuts
- 150g (2/3 cup) unsalted butter, melted
- 397g (14oz) tin of condensed milk
- 3 large egg yolks
- 180ml (¾ cup) key lime juice (or regular lime juice)
- 1 teaspoon lime zest (about 3 key limes or 2 regular limes)
- 120ml (½ cup) double or heavy cream (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 160°C / 320°F (140°C fan). Place the ginger biscuits in a food processor or blender and pulse into fine crumbs. Alternatively, place the biscuits into a sturdy plastic bag and beat with a rolling pin until you have crumbs. Place the crumbs into a bowl and add the melted butter. Mix together until all the crumbs are wet, and then spoon into a 9 inch round loose-bottom tart tin (or use a 14 x 4.5 inch rectangular tart tin like I did). Use the bottom of a measuring cup or a flat-bottomed glass to squash the biscuit crumbs into the base and sides of the tart tin, and then bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Once the crust has been baked, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tart tin on a wire rack. If the edges have dropped slightly on baking, quickly use a measuring cup to press the sides back into place.
- Whilst the crust is cooling it is time to make the key lime filling. Put the condensed milk, egg yolks, key lime juice, and key lime zest into a large bowl. Beat or whisk together for about a minute, until everything is well combined. Pour into the cooled biscuit crust until it reaches the top. Place back in the oven to bake for 15 minutes.
- Once baked, remove from the oven again and leave to cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Place in the fridge for at least 3 hours, and then top with rosettes of whipped cream (as pictured). Serve chilled.
- This key lime pie should keep for 2-3 days if stored in the fridge. Do not eat the pie if it has been left out of the fridge for more than 3 hours. You can also freeze the pie (before adding the cream rosettes) for up to 2 months. Defrost in the fridge and then eat within 1-2 days.