Key Lime Pies have become a dessert most associated with Florida than any other dessert. It is a dessert that has a year round appeal to vacationers and locals alike. Although we sell key lime pies throughout the year we sell a surprisingly large amount during the holiday season of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Along with the other many pies we sell, for locals the holidays would not be the same without key lime pie on the buffet table next to pecan pies and red velvet cake.
    
    Speculation is that a locally made home-style custard pie became a favorite when made with the new pre-sweetened condensed milk. This canned milk product had become popular in the southern most city because of its long shelf life and no need for refrigeration. Limes were abundant in the keys, and once the lime juice was added to the egg yolks and milk, the mixture would begin to thicken or set.

From this point on, many tourist and locals alike indulge in this Floridian dessert.

    At the cafe', we are especially aware of the need to have key lime pie as one of our desserts when we are serving seafood items as our daily special. When having entree items like shrimp fettuccine and salmon croquettes, customers always request and enjoy key lime pie with these seafood dishes. It is a dessert that goes hand in hand with seafood items. As most customers become more health conscious, many customers will request a slice of key lime pie thinking it is a low fat or calorie dessert, although this is a misnomer as one can see the ingredients in the following recipe for key lime pie. With customer's love of key lime pie, we decided to create a key lime cheesecake that has become very popular. It is popular with people that enjoy a smooth rich cheesecake texture and taste with the addition of a thin layer of tart key lime topping surrounded by whip topping.

    Many recipes abound for key lime pies and there are many varieties of key lime pies that use different ingredients to enhance or alter the flavor. Some of the differences include the addition of cinnamon or pecans in the crust out different toppings of basic cool whip, heavy whipped cream to a meringue. Beside the tradition and great taste of key lime pie, one of the best reasons to use a dessert is its simplicity. The recipe that best represents and tastes like a authentic key lime pie is the following.

Crust:
9 inch aluminum pie plate empty
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
5 Tablespoons melted margarine (approx).

Filling:
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup keylime juice (prefer Nellie and Joe)
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Directions:
    Mix graham cracker, sugar and margarine together in a bowl with whisk, until completely mixed. To check proper consistency, grab a handful of mixture and if it retains from after releasing then it is ready to be formed into aluminum pie pan to make crust. Or you may buy a graham cracker pie crust from local grocery store in bakery section. Form into pie pan with the help of a measuring cup to flatten bottom and form sides. Bake crust 350 for 15 minutes. Beat egg yolks in bowl then add key lime juice and sweetened condensed milk, continue to beat until mixture is blended well. Pour into pre-baked graham pie shell and bake an additional 10 minutes, cool in refridgerator. After pie has cooled top edges of pie with favorite dairy topping and garnish with thin slices of lime.

    Another great idea for home is to use the above recipe and put graham cracker crumbs in crystal parfait glass and follow with key lime mixture bake, cool, then topping. Note: Make sure glass is oven safe!! While our recipe calls for baking the filling for 10 minutes, according to the Nellie and Joe website "The Conchs (Key West locals) say the true Key Lime Pies is not baked, as they say "the lime does the cookin of the ingredients."

Written by:
Will Waller