Some people insist that key lime pie can only be made with true key limes. These tiny, super tart, and floral-scented limes originated in Southeast Asia, made their way westward, and were brought to the West Indies and Florida Keys by Spanish explorers. But Persian limes—the standard green variety you get at the grocery store—can also make for a great pie. The key (sorry!) is simply using freshly squeezed lime juice. The coconut crust variation of the butter pastry dough gives this pie an even more tropical vibe.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks. Add the lime juice and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the lime zest.
- Pour the filling into the par-baked crust, making sure to scrape the entire contents from the sides of the bowl into the pie. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the outer edges of the pie have solidified, but the center of the pie looks slightly fluid under the surface when the pie is jiggled.
- Pile the meringue on top of the pudding, using the back of a hot, wet spoon to create a wavy texture with peaks and valleys, or transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a fluted tip and pipe it on, starting at the outer edge and working your way to the center.
- Set the oven rack so that when the pie is on it, the very top of the pie is 3 to 5 inches (7.5 to 12 cm) from the heating element.
- Turn the broiler on high. When the heat is in full effect, place the pie under the broiler and set a timer for 1 minute. Broiler heat varies wildly from oven to oven, so keep a close eye on the pie for the entire time it is under the broiler. Heat until the peaks of the meringue turn golden brown, anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes, depending on your oven.
- Transfer the pie to the fridge for 4 hours or until cooled completely. To serve, slice with a hot, wet knife in order to avoid dragging the meringue. The pie will keep for up to 5 days, covered, in the fridge.
- Make sure the egg whites are completely free of any yolk and that your bowl and mixer attachments are completely clean and nongreasy. Otherwise, the egg whites will not whip properly.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with a hand-held mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on high until they are white and foamy and hold soft peaks.
- Meanwhile, in a saucepan, stir ¼ cup (60 ml) water and the sugar over high heat until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup reaches a strong boil. The temperature on a candy thermometer should read 240°F (116°C). Remove from the heat.
- With the mixer running, pour the hot sugar syrup in a thin stream into the foamy egg whites. Continue beating until the meringue holds the pattern of the whisk or beater as it spins. The texture should be voluminous but still silky.
- Add the vanilla and salt and beat just until combined.
- Use the meringue immediately to assemble a meringue pie according to the instructions in the recipe, or use as a pie sundae topping.
Reprinted from PIE FOR EVERYONE: Recipes and Stories from Petee's Pie, New York's Best Pie Shop by Petra Paradez. Photos copyright © 2020 by Victor Garzon. Published by ABRAMS.