Key lime pie is the official pie of Florida. No, really, as in a bill passed by the legislature in 2006.
Growing up in Florida I ate my fair share of key lime pie. My grandmother (AKA Nannie) made killer deserts and her key lime pie was to die for. My uncle Bob has a key lime tree in his yard. He would often come over to Nannie’s house with a bowl of limes and a hopeful look on his face and she would quickly turn the limes into a delicious pie.
For you non-Floridians real key lime pie is not bright green by the way, it is pale yellow. Key limes are small, about half the size of the Persian limes you find in the grocery store, with a more subtle flavor. If you can’t locate them “regular” limes will still make a yummy, if slightly less authentic pie. If you want to know the truth when I am out of fresh limes (or too lazy to squeeze) I use this brand of bottled key lime juice for pies, and when making margaritas.
“Traditional” key lime pie is made from sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, and lime juice baked into a graham cracker crust. It may be served plain or topped with a little whipped cream (but definitely NOT meringue for crying out loud!). This according to the gospel of Anne.
The origins of this delicacy are widely debated, but most key lime pie scholars point to sponge fishermen in the Florida keys in the late 1800’s. These fishermen, often out to sea for long periods without refrigeration, combined sweetened condensed milk, local key limes and eggs. The acid in the lime juice “cooked” the eggs (like seafood in ceviche) and the pie could sit out at room temperature without spoiling.
Recently I was invited to dinner with a friend who is on a restricted diet (no gluten or dairy) so I tried this recipe and it was a huge hit! I made two batches of mini pies, one with a traditional graham cracker crust, and one with shredded coconut. I preferred the coconut crust so I am including that recipe here. Switch out the butter in the crust for Earth Balance and your pie will be gluten free and dairy free. While not traditional, this recipe is the perfect not too sweet summer treat.
Frozen Key Lime Pie Minis:
- 1 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
- 3/4 cup coconut milk
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 cup key lime juice plus 1 Tbsp lime zest
- 1/2 cup agave
- Soak your cashews the night before (or if you are short on time pour hot water over them, let sit for an hour then drain and use).
- Heat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tins with baking cups. In a food processor blend coconut with melted butter. Press mixture into prepared tins. Bake for ten minutes or until golden brown. Set aside to cool.
- Add filling ingredients (reserving some of the lime zest for topping) to a blender and blend on high until smooth. This will take a couple of minutes. Taste and adjust for tartness/ sweetness (this recipe is not overly sweet so add a bit more agave for sweetness, or more lime juice to make it more tart).
- Pour filling into tins and tap on counter to release air bubbles. Top with the remaining lime zest and loosely cover with saran.
- Freeze for 2-4 hours or until firm. Remove from the freezer ten minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Anne McCranie is a Portland, (Sellwood) Oregon based Personal Trainer and Licensed Massage Therapist. Anne’s healthy diet includes natural whole foods, primarily veggies, fruit and protein. Anne consumes full fat dairy including yogurt, grass fed butter (yes butter!) and coconut oil on a daily basis. She offers this recipe to tickle your taste buds. Please see your health care practitioner for specific dietary advice.