I’m going to take a minute to talk about my boss here at the hotel. Her name is Brandi and she’s awesome. I could list the reasons but it makes me sound like a suck-up and that’s not what we’re going for here. Suffice it to say that she loves her employees and does nice things for us in addition to being fun to work for. Every year she hosts a party at her house in May for the graduates (but everyone is invited). Last year I wanted to make something Brandi would like since she was inviting us all over and with the help of my fellow sleuth Meagan I made this pie. Brandi talks about going to the Key West all the time and she loves this restaurant Pepe’s. Meagan found their website and the recipe for Brandi’s favorite key lime pie. What kind of crazy restaurant lists their recipes on their website? Answer: The best kind.
Key limes were $2 at the grocery store so I grabbed a bag and made some graham crackers. This pie, like most key lime pies, calls for a graham cracker crust and rather than buy one premade or use store-bought graham crackers, I made a batch of Nancy Silverton’s grahams. I’d made them before when I saw them on smitten kitchen, but now that I had her book I got inspired to make them again. They are sooo delicious. They’re not exactly like a cracker or the dry, sawdusty grahams I passed up during my childhood. If I had known about these when I was a kid, I wouldn’t have made my s’mores with just chocolate and marshmallows. It was really messy.
Graham Crackers adapted from Nancy Silverton:
2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 C brown sugar (She says use dark, I only had light. The world didn’t end.)
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 C butter, cubed and frozen
5 Tbsp milk (She says use whole milk, I used 2% and nothing exploded.)
2 Tbsp vanilla
5 Tbsp honey (clover works best)
(cinnamon sugar topping optional)
Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. You have three options for the next step: either use a pastry cutter to cut in the butter, use your fingers to smush the butter into the flour mixture, or incorporate the butter using a food processor. I have a really small food processor so I did this in batches but I’ve used just my hands before. Whisk together the milk, vanilla, and honey (it will be super gloopy–don’t worry) and stir that into the rest of the ingredients. It won’t look like dough at all. Have faith! Use your hands to clump and knead it together and dump the dough onto a floured surface. (I usually keep a cup of flour on my work surface.) Knead it and roll it out to 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch thickness. You can cut them into squares with a knife or use a cookie or biscuit cutter. I use a set of pretty, scalloped circular cutters that my mom gave me. You also have the choice of topping the cookies with cinnamon sugar or pricking them with a toothpick in a pretty pattern. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 12 minutes or until lightly browned.
Let the cookies cool completely and crumble them into your food processor or a zip-top bag (I used food processor and I didn’t even wash it out between mixing the graham ingredients and the graham crumbs. It’s the same stuff and no eggs! Slacker-friendly!). Process/crush until the grahams are a medium consistency. Don’t let them get too fine. Now you’re ready to make the crust.
Key Lime Pie adapted from Pepe’s in Key West, Florida:
1 1/2 C graham cracker crumbs
1/4 C granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 C melted butter
2 eggs, divided (the original recipe calls for 2 more yolks but this works really well too)
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 C key lime juice (fresh squeezed or bottled)
If it looks like there’s a lot of crust mixture going on, it’s because I made a double batch and froze half for later. That definitely wasn’t because I read the recipe wrong and added too much butter, forcing me to make a double batch so I wouldn’t have to throw anything out. (Yes it was)
Preheat the oven to 325 (or just open the oven door for a minute and lower the temp from 350 to 325). Stir together graham crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter. Press into a pie dish and bake for 10 minutes. No need for pie weights, y’all.
While that’s baking, juice the key limes and set aside. (You can also do this while the graham crackers are baking) One bag of key limes gave me pretty much exactly 1 cup of juice. Get an extra regular lime if you think you’ll need it.
At this point, the crust needs to cool. Keep the oven at 325. While it’s cooling, beat the egg whites and set aside. In a separate bowl beat the yolks for a minute and then add the sweetened condensed milk and lime juice. Try not to splash the lime juice all over yourself. Ahem. Fold in the egg whites and the pour the whole mixture into the crust. Bake for 20 minutes at 325. Let cool completely before refrigerating at least 2 hours. Best served really, really cold with whipped cream.
See that big indentation in the filling on the right side of the pie? That’s where Chad stuck his finger in the pie. He might have been in trouble for that one.
This pie is soooo delicious and creamy. If I hadn’t been chomping at the bit to make a scarf, I would have probably made fresh whipped cream. Instead, I fell back on the can of aerosol whipped cream. (Fun fact: Did you know that Reddi Wip is spelled like that–with no ‘h?’ How does that make sense? And you can’t make Stewie jokes without the hhhhh-wip)
H or no H, this pie is yummy and refreshing. The crust is great with store-bought graham crackers, but even better with homemade. That’s no offense to Pepe’s since I have never even had one of their pies, but this was a definite improvement on the first time I made it. Make this for your Memorial Day celebrations. And enjoy the extra graham crackers.