Who can take credit for inventing Key lime pie?
Want to spark a lively debate in South Florida? Broach the subject of Key lime pie. Pastry or cookie crust? Meringue or whip cream topping? And don’t even get started on the whole origin thing — it takes the discussion to a whole different level.
Could the beloved dessert have been created by a cook known as “Aunt Sally” who worked for Key West’s first millionaire? Or what about Borden Dairy Co. and its marketing of sweetened condensed milk with the company’s Magic Lemon Pie? There’s a theory that Borden’s pie recipe made its way down to South Florida, where enterprising bakers replaced the lemons with the sweet-tart limes of Key West. Or, perhaps it was the sponge harvesters who were out in boats for days at a time, making snacks from stale Cuban bread, evaporated milk, turtle eggs and lime juice, who can take the credit.
This recipe replaces sweetened condensed milk with white chocolate morsels. Word of warning: The mesh bags sold in stores are likely to contain common Persian limes picked too early. True Key limes, when ripe, are pale yellow and about the size of golf balls.
WHITE CHOCOLATE KEY LIME PIE
1 cup whipping cream
1 (11-ounce) package of white chocolate morsels
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
1⁄3 cup fresh Key lime juice (You can substitute with regular limes, but there will be a slight color and taste difference.)
11⁄4 cups (4 ounces) cookie crumbs (Options can include graham cracker, chocolate wafers or ginger snaps.)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
FOR THE CRUST
Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 F.
In a bowl, combine the cookie crumbs, melted butter and sugar. Stir until the crumbs are well moistened. Pat the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom and all the way up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan.
Bake until the crust is firm, about 5 minutes. For a firmer, crunchier crust, bake for another 5 minutes. Makes one 9-inch crust.
FOR THE FILLING
Combine whipping cream and white chocolate morsels in a medium saucepan over low heat. Cook 5 minutes or until morsels melt, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add sour cream, lime juice and rind. Stir well. Pour into prepared crust. Cover and chill at least 8 hours.
Garnish with whip cream, lime slices and raspberries. You also can make a meringue for a more traditional topping.
Phil Newton is a Galveston baker/cook. He’s the owner/operator of Stiglich Corner with partner Cindy Roberts.