Happy Pi Day! And because I’m a nerd, I obviously celebrated by making this beautiful key lime pie with toasted coconut crust. Originally, I was going to try my hand at making pie crust from scratch. But, in the past, pie crust has proven to be my cooking Everest. Every time I think I’ve gotten it just right, something goes wrong. I thought I had finally nailed pie crust this past Thanksgiving, when I used the Smitten Kitchen recipe after trying and failing with the vodka crust method the year before that.
Deb has never led me down the wrong path before, and when I was rolling things out, everything was going really well. Her advice to use more flour than you think you need was on point. It rolled out beautifully. The pies came out of the oven and looked beautiful. But when I went to cut into them, they were so chewy and tough, we could barely even cut into them. Maybe I added too much flour? Maybe it was going so well, I over-worked the dough?
When I decided to make a pie for pi day, I consulted my good friend Kendall on how to improve my pie dough to avoid this problem. She had the genius idea to combine the two recipes and use half vodka, half water. I was completely ready to try that out with this pie, but then I realized that it is March and spring produce is not quite ready for prime time. Limes aren’t quite in season yet either, but they looked much better than sad strawberries I saw at the grocery store.
Best of all, I could make a key lime pie without the necessity of making a real pie crust. It was a win-win. The best thing about this key lime pie is the crust. Instead of going the traditional graham cracker route, which is delicious but predictable, I decided to make a toasted coconut crust. The nuttiness of the coconut plays really well with the tartness of the limes and made for an interesting twist. Adding the toasted coconut in addition to the crushed coconut cookies lends a great textural element to the crust as well. While a plain graham cracker crust will work with this recipe, I highly recommend going the extra mile and adding the coconut!
- For the crust:
- ½ cup sweetened, flaked coconut
- 1 sleeve coconut cookies, crushed (I used Trader Joe's toasted coconut cookie thins and one sleeve yielded about 1⅔ cups)
- 8 tablespoons butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- For the filling:
- zest of two limes
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
- juice of 8 limes (This yielded about ¾ of cup for me and makes for a very tart pie. If you would like your pie a little on the sweeter side, I would cut this down to ⅔ or even ½ cup)
- Whipped Cream Topping:
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Start by toasting the coconut in a dry pan over medium heat. Stir constantly until it is deeply browned. It will take a while to get started, but once it does, it will go quickly, so do not leave this unattended.
- Combine the rest of the crust ingredients in a medium mixing bowl until thoroughly combined. Grease your pie plate with non-stick spray. Add the crust mixture and press down into the dish to form a uniform thickness. Bake for 10 minutes, until slightly browned. When it comes out of the oven, place on a cooling rack until the filling is ready for baking.
- While the crust is baking, add the lime zest to the bottom of your stand mixer. Add the egg yolks and beat for 5 minutes, until the eggs are thick and pale. Add the sweetened condensed milk and beat for another 3 minutes.
- Then add the lime juice to the mixture and stir until combined. Taste the mixture and make sure it isn't too tart. If it is, add a bit agave nectar, maple syrup, or plain granulated syrup until it to your taste, but keep in mind that the sweetness of the topping will help balance the tartness as well.
- When the filling is to your liking, bake for 15 minutes, until the filling is set, but not browned. When you shake the pan, it should move slightly, but not be goopy. Put in the refrigerator for at least ten minutes to cool before you top it.
- Add the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla to the stand mixer. Whip until soft peaks form. Add to the top of the pie and top with additional lime zest if desired.
- It helps if you allow the whipped cream to set for a few hours in the refrigerator, but I dug into mine right away and did not regret it.