Do you know how many little Key limes I had to squeeze to extract one half cup of fresh juice?
Twenty two Key limes cut in half, which makes it 44 pieces. That I individually squeezed by hand using my mom’s antique juicer. 44 pieces, at least five rotations each at the tip of the juicer. That’s at least 220 times of putting pressure and squeezing each little Key lime half so I can extract fresh juice.
Did my fingers cramp? Yes. Did I regret it? Not one bit. It was all worth it for this key lime pie.
Key limes are little round limes from Florida Keys. Unlike the more common “regular” limes (which are actually Persian limes), Key limes are smaller, only about an inch and half in length, with a more yellowish skin instead of bright green.
Key lime pie is something my mom and I both love. She likes citrusy desserts, and she is a fan of my Creamy Lemon Squares, so I baked her this Key Lime Pie, based on that lemon bar recipe. I made an easy graham cracker crust, and used the fresh juice from the Key limes for the creamy filling, then slathered a thick layer of whipped cream on top.
As many of you know, my family lives in the Philippines, while I live here in Boston. Being away from my family means that we sometimes celebrate holidays apart, but sometimes I’ll come home to Manila or they’ll come here to the US and we’ll get to celebrate a special occasion together. This year, I am lucky to have my mom with me in Boston during Mother’s Day.
I’ve written multiple posts about how special my mom is on this blog – she who I credit for my lifelong craving for Filipino white cheese and an affinity for midnight snacks, the woman who taught me so many things: from how to distinguish Versace from Jean Paul Gaultier, to how to harness my strengths and passions, and to expanding my eating horizons. She has taught me to always be kind and courageous, and to appreciate beauty in something as grand as the canals at Venice, to something as simple as a tree in Harvard Square. She is a foodie at heart, a warrior inside the most beautiful package, she is my Marcelia.
Even though as we are apart for months and sometimes years, distance and time fade because I can feel everyday how much she loves me. I try to show her how much I love her, too, with little things like this pie. I would juice a million limes for her, and having her here with me today, on Mother’s Day, makes this Key lime pie all that much sweeter.
Key Lime Pie
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 can (14 oz) condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup freshly squeezed Key lime juice
1 tablespoon grated key lime zest
3 cups whipped cream (from approximately 1 1/2 cups heavy cream)
- Preheat oven to 375 F.
- Make the crust. Combine graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar. Using the back of a large spoon, press crumb mixture firmly on the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake crust 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven to cool.
- Lower oven temperature to 350 F.
- Make the filling. In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, condensed milk, Key lime juice and zest until smooth. Pour over crust, return to oven, and bake until filling is set, about 15 minutes. Cool completely.
- Refrigerate, covered, for at least 3 hours. Spread whipped cream on top before serving.
Enjoy a slice of this pie with your loved ones, and you’ll understand why juicing Key limes by hand is all worth it.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy!
Dear readers, thank you for the words of encouragement and support during my short blog hiatus and for sticking around! I missed you guys and I’m glad to be back blogging. Stay tuned for travel posts in the coming weeks!