My first encounter with Key Lime Pie was in one of the opening scenes of the film Natural Born Killers. Our anti-heroes order Key Lime Pie of the most Technicolor vivid acid green dessert that caught my eye more than the action itself – I cannot really recall this diner scene OTHER than the pie!
I have combined two other dessert favourites in the creation of my Key Lime Pie; firstly, I have used chocolate chip cookies in my buttery biscuit base as I love Chocolate Lime Sweets. Secondly, I have used an Italian Meringue on the top of the pie in the same way as I would for a Lemon Meringue Pie. You could use freshly whipped double cream as an alternative topping if you prefer.
You will need an 8″ deep loose-bottomed cake tin, lined with baking parchment
150°C Oven Pre-heated
For the buttery biscuit base:
80g unsalted butter (melted)
250g chocolate chip cookies
For the lime centre:
zest and juice of 5 limes
2 cans of condensed milk
8 egg yolks
½ tsp lime extract (optional)
green food colouring paste (optional)
For the Italian Meringue:
225g caster sugar
4 egg whites
- Crush the biscuits thoroughly and stir them in melted butter until completely coated. Press the damp, sandy rubble firmly into the bottom of a lined cake tin and bake in a pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.
- To make your lime centre, zest the limes into a large bowl and squeeze all of the juice from each one. Add the yolks of 8 large eggs (retaining the egg whites from 4 of these for your meringue) condensed milk and lime extract if you have it.
- Stir your lime centre ingredients to combine and add a little green food colouring paste if you would like to create a vivid green centre. Always opt for a professional quality food colouring paste as you will not need to add much and it will not fade too much during baking.
- Pour the lime centre into the cake tin on top of your cooled biscuit base. Return the tin to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until set with a pleasing wobble. Allow to cool completely – this will take at least 2 hours at room temperature, though can be left overnight if you want to do this the day before.
- To make your Italian Meringue, dissolve caster sugar and water in a small saucepan and bubble to 118°C over a high heat. You will need to use a sugar thermometer to monitor this accurately and to create the perfect meringue – this is well worth a fiver for taking the guess work out of this task.
- Once the sugar reaches 100°C, whisk the egg whites on top speed until they hold stiff peaks. This should happen just as the sugar reaches 118°C. Pour the hot sugar syrup into the egg whites whilst the mixer is whisking slowly – the syrup will incorporate quickly into the egg whites and a further 5 minutes of slow whisking results in stiff, shiny peaks of meringue. Pipe or spread meringue on top of your lime centre and finish with a flourish of flames from a chef’s blowtorch… or under the grill, though this is far less dramatic.