Pepe's Café Key Lime Pie
courtesy of the Pepe's Café, since 1909 - Key West
Serves: 6-8 people. Preparation time: 2½ hours.
1½ C. Graham Cracker Crumbs (12 crushed 2"x5" Graham Crackers)
¼ C. White Sugar
1 t. Ground Cinnamon
5 T. Melted Unsalted Butter
2 Large Egg Whites (Room Temperature)
4 Large Egg Yolks (Room Temperature)
1 (14 oz.) Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
½ C. Key Lime Juice (Fresh or Bottled)
1 C. Heavy Cream (optional)
3 T. Confectioners Sugar (optional)
1 Fresh Key Lime (optional)
Mint Leaves (optional)
• Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, thoroughly stir together the Cracker Crumbs, White Sugar and Cinnamon. Drizzle with the Melted Butter and stir until fully combined. Press this mixture onto the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake the crust for about 10 minutes until brown. Let it cool on a rack until room temperature. Separate the Eggs.
• In a mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the 2 Egg Whites until soft peaks form. In another bowl, whisk the 4 Egg Yolks with the Sweetened Condensed Milk. Add the Lime Juice and whisk together. Fold in ⅓ of the Egg Whites to lighten the mixture, then add the remaining Egg Whites and fold until just evenly combined.
• Fill the pie crust with this mixture. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes or until the center is just set. Let it cool on a rack to room temperature, then refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
• You may whisk the Heavy Cream and Confectioners Sugar until peaks form and use this Whipped Cream to garnish each piece - or - more traditionally, thinly slice a fresh Key Lime and use the slices as garnish on each piece with an optional fresh green Mint Leaf. Key Lime - There are many versions of Key Lime Pies in Florida. This one is popular and famous. Key Limes (aka West Indian Limes) are hybrids and grown in the Florida Keys, as well as in Mexico. It's origins are in southeast Asia, however. It dates back to only about 1900 here in Florida, when they replaced Pineapple cultivation. They are picked light green, but it changes to greenish yellow when fully ripe. The bushes have many thorns and the plant's flowers are yellow-white with purple. It's smaller and more flavorful than common Persian Limes. Key Limes can be home-grown hardy as far north as Tampa (Zone 9). Limes can also be grafted to Kumquat plants ("Lime-Quats") to be hardy in Zone 8 (Central Florida).