Key Lime Tarts

Key lime pie is my very favorite dessert, of all time, in the world. That is–when it is done properly. Because, to sound like a snob, it is almost never done properly. The next time you are in the supermarket, take a gander to the bakery department. You might find a key lime pie there, but more likely it is only something masquerading as a key lime pie. Have a look at the ingredients. Are there more than five? Take a look at the color. Does it look like an experiment in florescents gone bad?

Real key lime pie, the kind you find in restaurants in southern Florida, only has four ingredients: sweetened condensed milk, key lime juice, key lime zest and egg yolks. It is pale yellow, almost white, and has the consistency of thick custard.

The crust is important too. For a while, I tried to stick to graham crackers, but no matter how much butter I added, it seemed I could never replicate the euphorically-buttery crusts I’d sampled in restaurants. (Plus, do you know how long it takes to turn a box of graham crackers into dust if you don’t have a food processor? I’ll tell you, a hell of a long time.) I now make my crusts using English digestive crackers, because they only take short time to crush, and they provide a great balance of butter, sugar and salt.

Lime, mint, grapefruit zest

To make this recipe a little more interesting, I experimented with the filling this time. (Yes, yes, for all my talk of key lime pie purity, I wanted to see if a little infusing would improve the taste.) I separated the sweetened condensed milk into ramekins. Into one, I added a vanilla bean. The second got some muddled mint, and the third grapefruit zest. I let them sit, covered but unrefrigerated for a few hours. The unexciting, but honest results are: the taste did not change very much. At least for the vanilla and mint. I think I would have to try a better method of infusing for the taste to change more than a wee bit. However, the grapefruit zest did add an extra and refreshing zing of citrus. You can taste both the lime and the grapefruit distinctly. If you are a citrus fan, this one’s for you.

Key lime bases

Makes 6 individual tarts

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 package Mcvities digestive crackers
  • ¾ stick salted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup white sugar

Crust Procedure:

1. Empty the digestives into a large bowl. Using the heel of a glass, crush the digestives until you achieve the consistency of sand. (I promise, it doesn’t take more than 5 minutes.)

2. Cut the butter into slices, and then use your fingers to incorporate into the crumbled digestives. Add the sugar, and mix with your fingers until you achieve the texture of wet sand. Spoon the mixture into tart shells, and press into a crust.


Crushed digestives

Buttery digestives

Filling Ingredients:

  • Two 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup key lime juice
  • zest of 1 lime, or 2 key limes
  • 1 tablespoon grapefruit zest
  • 4 large egg yolks

Filling Procedure:

1. Empty a sweetened condensed milk into a medium bowl. Add the key lime juice, a bit at a time. (If you can’t find fresh key limes, use Nellie and Joe’s Key West Juice from the supermarket). Mix in lime and grapefruit zest, then mix in the egg yolks; stir until just incorporated.

2. Pour the filling into the tart shells and cook at 350F for 12 minutes. When they come out of the oven, allow them to cool, and then chill before serving.

3. Optional: Serve with freshly whipped cream.

Key lime tart




    I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you design this website yourself or
    did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz reply as I’m looking to construct my own blog and would like to know where u got this from. appreciate it

    • CristinaSciarra

      Thanks, Kim. Actually, the site is WordPress-based,but all the design and modifications were done by my talented boy friend (who I call “the Frenchman” on the site.)

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