Fluffy? Isn’t key lime pie supposed to be creamy, custardy, silken? Yes! And this recipe is all of those things but with a special touch of fluffiness, thanks to our friends the egg whites. Whipped egg whites. It’s magical. And with Easter just around the corner, this is the perfect dessert to celebrate with! I even gave you two weeks time to plan ahead, aren't I nice?
I don’t know why I always want to make citrus desserts for Easter, maybe because it’s always in the spring. And in the spring everything is coming alive, the rebirth of nature, and calls for bright, happy citrus flavors. You can’t call citrus sad. And what is Easter but the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, giving those who believe on Him new life? The celebration of rebirth. It all fits. Not to mention if you observe Lent, getting to eat what you gave up for 6 weeks is lovely.
And whether you have a big Easter meal planned or not, you’re going to want to make this pie. And if you’ve never made key lime pie before? This is not a bad place to start. Just be warned that other key lime pies after this one might be…tame.
Recipe adapted from the Williams-Sonoma cookbook Savoring America
The Fluffiest Key Lime Pie with a Gingersnap Crust
For the Gingersnap Crust
28 gingersnaps broken into pieces, about 1 1/2in / 4cm in diameter (homemade or storebought)
1/2 cup / 60g chopped pecans
1 Tbsp / 15g chopped crystallized ginger
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup / 57g butter, melted and cooled
For the Filling
4 eggs, separated
1/4 cup / 30g cornstarch
1/2 cup / 100g sugar
1 14oz can / 440g sweetened condensed milk, make it homemade here
1/2 cup / 118g key lime juice
2 Tbsp / 12g freshly grated key lime zest
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Topping and Garnish
1 cup / 237g heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup / 42g confectioner’s sugar
1/8 tsp almond extract
thin key lime slices or lime zest, optional
Oven 350F / 177C. Lightly greased 9in / 23cm pie dish.
Make the Gingersnap Crust
In a food processor, combine the gingersnaps, pecans, ginger, and cinnamon. Pulse until everything is finely ground in crumbs. Add the butter and pulse briefly until the crumbs are evenly moistened.
Press evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pie dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or until fragrant and lightly browned. (This can be hard to see because of the dark color of the gingersnaps.) Allow to cool.
Make the Filling
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat 2 egg whites and the cream of tartar on high speed until soft peaks form and can hold their shape, about 1-2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and scrape the egg whites into a small bowl; set aside.
In the bowl of the stand mixer (don’t worry about cleaning it), beat on medium-high speed the egg yolks, 2 remaining egg whites, cornstarch, sugar, and sweetened condensed milk until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the lime juice and zest and beat until smooth.
Gently fold 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the lime mixture to lighten. Add the rest of the egg whites and fold just until combined.
Pour the filling into the cooled pie crust, smooth the top with a spatula. Bake until just firm, about 20 minutes. To test for firmness, jiggle the dish slightly. When the center jiggles just slightly, it’s ready.
Cool completely, then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Make the Topping
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the heavy whipping cream on medium speed. As it starts to thicken (and will no longer splatter) increase the speed to high. Add the powdered sugar and almond extract. Continue beating until firm peaks form, about 2-4 minutes total.
Spoon whipped cream over pie or use a piping bag and tips to decorate. Garnish with lime slices/and or zest. Serve immediately or refrigerate.
The crust can be made without the pecans and/or ginger, if you’re like me and sometimes feel too lazy to chop things!
Freshly squeezed key lime juice is best, but if you’ve ever used real key limes you’ll know that getting half a cup can be a real labor of love. Those things can be tiny! Hand cramp hand cramp hand cramp. And just when you think you’re there, you realize you’ve only squeezed 1 Tbsp worth. So, I gladly buy bottled key lime juice.
If you can’t find fresh key limes or juice, use limes! And I suppose, lemons if you’re in a pinch. Lemon pies are good too! Same goes for the zest.
No food processor handy? Do it the old fashioned way and stick the cookies in a resealable plastic bag and whack and roll with a rolling pin. The pecans and ginger can be finely chopped by hand.