Key Lime Pie (or tarts)

"There are a million Key Lime recipes out there, but all you really need is a simple mix of lime juice, eggs and the magic of sweetened condensed milk – the more creative bits are up to you. I’ve found that this recipe, from Cook’s Illustrated The New Best Recipe book (published 2004, America’s Test Kitchen) hits the perfect texture and rich, tart taste. Make the whole pie or use 3″ tart rings to make minis."

Note: prepare the filling for the pie first, so it can thicken during the time it takes to prepare the crust.

key lime tartsLime filling

4 teaspoons grated zest and 1/2 cup strained juice from 3-4 Persian limes (or up to a dozen Key limes)
4 large egg yolks
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

Graham cracker crust

9 graham crackers (5 ounces) broken into rough pieces
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and kept warm
optional: 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Whipped cream topping

3/4 cup chilled heavy cream
1/4 cup (1 ounce) confectioner’s sugar

optional garnish:

1/2 lime, sliced paper-thin and dipped in granulated sugar


The filling: Whisk the zest and yolks in a medium nonreactive bowl until tinted light green, about 2 minutes. Beat in the condensed milk, then the juice; set aside at room temperature to thicken (about 30 minutes).

The crust: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a food processor, process the graham crackers until evenly fine, about 30 seconds (you should have 1 cup crumbs). Add the sugar (plus optional cinnamon) and pulse to combine. Continue to pulse while adding the warm melted butter in a steady stream; pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand.

For Whole Pie: Transfer the crumbs to a 9-inch glass pie plate and evenly press the crumbs into the plate, using your thumbs and a 1/2 cup measuring cup to square off the top of the crust. Bake the crust until it is fragrant and beginning to brown, 15-18 minutes; transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

For Individual Tarts: Use any size mini tart pan, from 1-3 inches wide, to make individual tarts. Using the prepared graham cracker crumb mixture, place enough crumbs into each mini pan to pat down bottom and press up sides, creating a firm crumb “wall.” Place tarts on sheet pan and bake as directed above, until just fragrant and beginning to brown. Cool before filling.

To Fill: For whole pie, pour the lime filling into pie crust (for mini tarts, fill to approximately 2/3 full). Bake until the center is set yet wiggly when jiggled, 15-17 minutes. Return pie (or tarts) to a wire rack, and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours. Pies or tarts can be covered directly with lightly oiled plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to one day.

For Topping: Up to 2 hours before serving, whip the cream in the chilled bowl of an electric mixer to very soft peaks. Adding the confectioner’s sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, continue whipping to just-stiff peaks. Decoratively pipe the whipped cream over the filling or spread whipped cream evenly with a rubber spatula. Garnish with sugared lime slices, if desired, and serve.

- Recipe courtesy of Marilyn Naron