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How to Make Key Lime Pie

How to Make Key Lime Pie
August 2017

Pastry chef Andrea Upchurch gives the creamy, classic summer dessert a zingy twist with a gingersnap crust

KEY LIME PIE (Serves 6-8)

Whipped cream or toasted meringue, for topping
Toasted coconut and fresh berries, for garnish

For the crust:

1½ cups finely ground gingersnap cookies
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup toasted coconut
6 Tbs. melted butter

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix the ground gingersnap cookies, cinnamon, sugar, and coconut in a bowl. Slowly stream in the melted butter and stir until well combined. Press the soft dough evenly into the bottom of a nine-inch pie pan, shaping it around the sides. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, remove from the oven, and let cool completely. Meanwhile, turn the oven temperature to 325°F.

For the filling:

5 egg yolks
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Zest of 2 key limes
1/4 tsp. Bulls Bay sea salt
1/4 tsp. ground or 1 Tbs. freshly
grated ginger
1/2 cup key lime juice

In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the condensed milk until combined. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to whisk until the mixture is well combined and has thickened slightly.

Pour the filling into the cooled crust, then transfer to the oven and bake on the middle rack for approximately 30 minutes. Cool the pie on a wire rack (the pie will set as it cools) and then transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least four hours before serving. To serve, top the pie with whipped cream or toasted meringue and garnish with toasted coconut and fresh berries. If not serving immediately, store in the refrigerator for up to three days, or in the freezer for up to one month.

Chef’s notes:

Spice it up: Classic key lime pie is made with a flaky, buttery crust, but Upchurch likes to play with taste and texture, forming her dough with gingersnaps and toasted coconut.
All set: “The pie will have a slight jiggle when it’s pulled out of the oven,” she says. “Don’t worry, it will set up!”
Citrus substitute: For a fresh twist on the pie, try using Meyer lemons or blood oranges in place of key limes.
Island-inspired: “I love the tropical factor that coconut and ginger add to the dessert,” Upchurch notes. To up the island flavor, she often serves slices with mango coulis or fresh-cut mango.

Meet the chef: Andrea Upchurch

Before turning out delicious desserts at Magnolias, Blossom, and the now-shuttered Cypress, Upchurch spent her days in more relaxed kitchen settings, preparing meals with her mother and grandmother on Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms. “I always knew I wanted to cook,” she says. Upchurch graduated from College of Charleston in 2006, and then three years later, enrolled in the Culinary Institute of Charleston, where she found her niche in baking. Nostalgic desserts, like key lime pie, are her favorites to make. “I love classic recipes, because people always have wonderful stories of family and friends associated with them,” she explains.