Key Lime Pie is a sort of citrus-lover dream.
But it has a few less-than-ideal trademarks I am forever trying to dance around:
- It uses key limes, the tiny and delicious Florida variety so prized for its intense flavor and fragrance; expensive, and in season only briefly.
- It uses sweetened condensed milk.
- It uses lots of egg yolks.
In my constant tinkering I believe I have found a wonderful way to make Key Lime Pie, taking some poetic license in the name of nutritional correctness, using regular limes, coconut milk, tapioca, and no eggs. I am sharing. It doesn’t hurt that it can very easily be made Gluten-Free, and that it is naturally Vegan. Feedback please!
Now that coconut oil is increasingly available at a reasonable price, at health food stores, online, and at price clubs, I am experimenting baking with it, with wonderful results.
I am instructing you to use a 12 inch pie plate, but you can also make the recipe using 2 9-inch plates.
Too lazy to press the crust up the sides of the plate? Do it the lazy way, as I do, and press it all firmly in the bottom.
Key Lime Pie being a huge crowd pleaser, I often tweak some details, always with great results which I am sharing with you at the bottom of this post.
- 2 5-ounce packages plain graham crackers (gluten-free OK too)
1/2 cup natural coconut oil or margarine spread (health-food stores)
- 2/3 cup tapioca flour (health food stores), or 1/3 cup corn or potato starch
- 3/4 cup fresh key lime or lime juice
- 2 tablespoons lime zest
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 15-ounce can coconut milk (not the one marked "light")
- 1/3 cup coconut oil or natural margarine spread (health food stores)
- 1 pound silken tofu, drained
- 1 8-ounce container vegan cream cheese (health food stores)
Make the crust. Grind the graham crackers with the coconut oil until fine crumbs form. Press them firmly on the bottom and sides of a 12 inch pie plate, or 2 9-inch pie plates.
Make the filling: place the tapioca, juice, zest, sugar and coconut milk in a small saucepan. Whisk until perfectly smooth. Only then, turn on the flame. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking and making sure the bottom is not scorching. Reduce the flame to low, and cook, still whisking, just 1-2 more minutes (do not cook longer, or the action of the starch will be disabled, and the pie will not set properly). The mixture will thicken. Transfer the mixture to a food processor, add the coconut oil, tofu and cream cheese, and whisk a full minute, until perfectly smooth. Pour the filling into the pie plate (or plates). Chill until firm.
Playing with a Couple Details in the Recipe:
- Make a richer crust: Mix in a food processor: 1 Package (5 ounces) graham crackers, 1 dozen pitted dates, 2/3 cup unblanched almonds, 1/3 cup coconut oil or natural margarine spread, or a drop more to make a nice spreadable crust. Richer and more outrageous still? No graham crackers. 2 dozen pitted dates, 1 cup almonds, 1 cup grated coconut, 1/2 cup coconut oil or a drop more to make a nice spreadable crust.
- Make a green pie: Although Key Lime Pie is traditionally white, I found it fun to make it green, the all-natural way, by throwing in 4-5 sprigs parsley in the food processor at mixing time. It imparts a brilliant green color and doesn't encroach in the least on the flavor and texture of the pie. Good to know, for this and many other dishes where we want the color but don't want to change anything about the dish. If you are using it, grind it in the food processor all by itself, very finely, then add all other ingredients.
- Use gelatin instead of starch. Kosher Gelatin is easier to find nowadays. You can also use agar powder. 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin, or 2 tablespoons agar powder. soak the gelatin or agar in 1/4 cup of the juice. Bring the coconut milk, sugar, remaining juice to boil, then whisk in the gelatin mixture, etc, proceed with the recipe just as above.
- Frozen Key Lime Pie. I often serve it this way. Fabulous. After you pour the batter onto the crust, put the pie in the freezer to set. For easy slicing, take out the pie thirty minutes before serving.