The famous key lime pie from Florida is traditionally made with condensed milk, a graham cracker crust, and no meringue topping. In South America, the best key lime pie ("pie de limón") is prepared like a lemon meringue pie, using tart South American limes rather than lemons, and piled high with a meringue topping. The crust is prepared with vanilla cracker crumbs instead of graham crackers.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
- 1 packet graham crackers (about 9) plus 15 vanilla wafers (or all vanilla cookies) to make 2 cups of crumbs
- 8 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup fresh squeezed key lime juice (or substitute Mexican limes)
- 14 tablespoons butter
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 1 2/3 cups sugar
- 1 package unflavored gelatin
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- Process the cookies in a food processor or crush them with a rolling pin. Mix them with the 8 tablespoons melted butter, a pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon sugar.
- Press the crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie plate, covering the bottom and pressing the crumbs up the side.
- Bake the crust in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and let cool.
- Sprinkle the gelatin over 3 tablespoons of water in a small cup. Let rest 5 minutes.
- Microwave gelatin mixture for 15 to 30 seconds, until gelatin is dissolved. Set aside.
- In a heavy bottomed pot, bring the lime juice, butter, and a pinch of salt to a boil.
- While the butter and lime juice are heating, whisk the sugar into the 4 eggs and the 4 separated egg yolks (reserve whites for later use), until eggs turn pale yellow and the sugar is dissolved.
- Once the butter and lime juice are boiling, remove them from the heat and add the hot liquid slowly to the egg mixture, while whisking vigorously.
- Pour all of the mixture back into the pot and place on medium heat.
- Whisk the mixture steadily while it heats to prevent it from sticking and burning. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and turns translucent, about 4-6 minutes.
- Stir gelatin into hot pie filling. Pour filling into the pie crust and chill.
- To make the italian meringue topping, place the reserved 4 egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer.
- Heat the sugar and water until boiling. Boil for 4 - 5 minutes without stirring, until sugar mixture starts to thicken and form slow bubbles. Turn off heat.
- Turn the mixer on and begin to beat the egg whites. When the egg whites form peaks, start adding the hot sugar mixture by very slowly pouring it down the side of the mixer bowl while beating the egg whites.
- Continue to beat meringue for 4 or 5 more minutes while it cools.
- Mound meringue on top of the pie filling, and swirl decoratively with a spoon.
- Heat broiler. Place pie in the oven for a few minutes to brown the meringue topping, watching carefully and checking often so that it doesn't burn.
- Chill pie thoroughly before serving.