3 eggs
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
3-6 oz key lime juice, depending on how tart you like it
Pie crust
Whipped cream (easier if it's in a can)

Put the pie crust into a greased pie tin if it isn't already there. A graham-cracker crust works well. Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Discard the whites. Mix the yolks with the sweetened condensed milk in a bowl, then mix in the key lime juice. Fresh is best, but any source of key lime juice will do if you're not near the Florida Keys.

Pour the mixture into the prepared crust. Bake at 350°F for 5 minutes. When the pie has cooled, decorate it with a ring of whipped cream around the rim.

Key limes are different from limes, though, so substitute at great risk and please don't call it key lime pie if you do! On the same note, beware of any so-called key lime pie that's green. Real key lime pie has a light yellow color and does not contain food coloring.

SOURCE: Evelyn Whitehurst, by way of my mother's recipe file

Key Limes are a bit smaller, on average, than your standard lime, and contribute a rather unique flavor to this pie. If you can't find key limes, you may substitute regular limes, but there's a good reason you always hear about "Key Lime Pie" and never hear about regular "Lime Pie".

Key Lime Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie

First, the pie crust. In a bowl, combine the crumbs, sugar, and melted butter until the ingredients are evenly distributed. Then press the mixture into a lightly buttered, 9-inch pie pan. Toss the crust in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for eight to ten minutes, so that the crust is very lightly browned and crisp. Take it out of the oven to cool, then toss it in the fridge.

Now for the filling. In the top of a double-boiler, mix the egg yolks, ½ cup of sugar, and milk. Place over simmering hot water, being sure that the water doesn't touch the bottom of the boiler-pan. Stir contantly for about ten to fifteen minutes until a loose, frothy custard sauce is formed. It should be able to coat a spoon. Take it off the heat.

In a separate bowl, mix together the gelatin, lime juice, and lime rind. Let it sit for one or two minutes so that it can "soften", then add it to the warm custard. Put it back on the heat, and stir it constantly for about a minute. Take the custard off the heat and let it cool.

While it's cooling, grab another bowl whip up the cream into soft but firm peaks, until it about doubles in volume. Set it aside.

In a stainless steel bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Continue beating, and add ½ cup of sugar, one tablespoon at a time. Stop beating when firm, satin-y peaks are formed, and if you have any left over sugar, lightly fold it in.

By this time, the custard should have cooled nicely and reached the consistency of loosely whipped cream. If not, put the custard bowl in a bath of ice water, stirring it until it's evenly thickened. Be careful not to get it too thick, or you'll have to re-warm it again.

Fold the two cups of whipped cream, about ¼ of the amount at a time. Do the same with the egg whites. Pour the filling into the chilled pie crust, then put it back in the refrigerator until firm.

Once it's done chilling, whip up the remaining cream and sugar with the vanilla until soft peaks form. Spread the vanilla cream over the pie, making a sort of mound in the middle for aesthetic's sake. Garnish with lime twists, and serve.

Quick and Easy “Key Lime” Pie

This recipe has no key limes in it. No limes of any kind, actually. Also no eggs, no real whipping cream, and no baking. Purists can stop reading right now. If Martha Stewart weren’t so busy with her own problems, she’d probably be horrified by the glaring inauthenticity of this recipe. But all the same, it’s sweet and it’s creamy; it’s a pretty tasty comfort food.

My mom got this recipe from a friend of my brother’s, who is twenty-something and single. (The friend, not my brother. He is late-twenty-something and engaged, but that’s a different writeup.) Anyway, when Michael makes this, he uses a fat-free graham cracker crust and fat-free (or reduced fat) cool whip and key lime yogurt. So it’s relatively healthy, if you’re concerned about such things.

You’ll need: 1 small (3 oz) package of lime Jell-O 8 oz cool whip (if you’re like me, this will be less the few tablespoons that you’ve eaten straight from the tub) 8 oz key lime yogurt (who knew they made such things? I need to get out more.) 1 ready-to-fill, store-bought, graham cracker crust

Mix the lime Jell-O with ¼ cup boiling water in a bowl. Once it is thoroughly dissolved, add the cool whip and mix (by hand) until blended. Dump in the yogurt. Stir. Spoon into the graham cracker crust. Put the pie in the refrigerator, uncovered, for about two hours, or until it sets. The last time my mom made this, it didn’t set, and she thinks that was because she covered it right away. Don’t let this happen to you, or else you won’t be able to serve the runny green glop to guests, and you’ll be forced to eat it all yourself. (Or maybe that was your diabolical plan all along…)

When I made it, I kept a few tablespoons of cool whip out, to spread on top of the pie, as faux meringue. It made the body of the pie, the “key lime” part, a bit less creamy and a bit more like the real consistency of key lime pie. Yum.

This recipe is fast and easy. A friend of mine has a plaque in her kitchen that says, “If we are what we eat, then I’m cheap and easy.” Words to live by. Oh, yeah.

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