Math is hard. High school math was excruciating. I write and talk for a living, so anything with numbers was a lot of tears, a lot of bad grades, and a lot of wanting to throw my calculator against the wall.
The one bright spot of math was Pi Day. An excuse to eat pie, without the pain of numbers (March 14 is Pi day, because Pi = 3.14. This much of math, I remember).
And even though it’s summer, I still think about Pi Day and Key Lime pie. My mom’s side of the family is from South Florida, so Key Lime pie was a staple growing up, and it’s an essential part of my life now. Tangy, sweet, with a buttery graham cracker crust — it’s the perfect summer dessert. And it’s the quintessential dessert to bring to a July 4 barbecue.
Key Limes are native to the Florida Keys. They’re more tart and aromatic than the Persian limes you see in your neighborhood grocery store. True to its history, this recipe calls for sweetened condensed milk. Fresh milk and refrigeration was rare in the Keys until the 1930s. As a result, locals relied on canned, sweetened condensed milk for many recipes.
The first time I made this Key Lime pie, I cried. I worked really hard to make the perfect filling, and when I took it out of the oven, it had a giant crack down the middle. I’m sorry, I thought I was making Key Lime pie, not “Earthquake Pie.” But I digress.
My No-Frills version uses a store-bought graham cracker crust. Of course you can make your own, but I find no fault in ease and convenience. Another shortcut you could use is lime juice instead of freshly squeezed limes. I’ll leave that up to you, but remember, your kitchen is a judgment-free zone!
Enjoy with some homemade whipped cream and grated lime zest, and pretend you’re on a hammock in the Florida Keys, not on your couch watching “Lord of the Rings” for the 85th time.
No-Frills Key Lime Pie
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 prepared 9-inch (6 oz.) graham cracker crust (you can create your own using crushed graham crackers, butter and a food processor, but I think store bought works just as well!)
2/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 5-6 medium Key limes)
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
Homemade whipped cream (optional)
Heat oven to 375. Mix together lime juice, zest, and sweetened condensed milk to make the filling.
Pour the filling into the crust and spread evenly. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the filling has just set, it should still wiggle a little.
Cool on a wire rack for 40 to 45 minutes, then refrigerate for 4 hours. Before slicing, I like to freeze for 15 to 20 minutes. Enjoy with a big scoop of whipped cream.