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Perfect Summer Dessert

2011 August 26

We had some friends over for a BBQ last Friday.

That’s right! We have DC friends!

Lauren and Bret work with Stu and have actually been living here for a year on temporary assignments, so we’ve been able to hang out with them quite a bit since we’ve arrived.

These folks are not only fun, outgoing, and laid back—they love to cook too! And they love to try new recipes. It’s a great fit.

Since Bret was tackling the main course (cedar plank salmon), I decided to try a new dessert…something to enjoy in the cool summer evening. Bret and Lauren are a little crazy challenging because they aren’t chocolate fans. I, on the other hand, am very comfortable with chocolate desserts. It actually works out just fine though, because I’m forced to step out of my comfort zone and try new, non-chocolate recipes!

So when I saw the Frozen Key Lime Pie in Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Family Style cookbook, I had to make it.

Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE all things Ina Garten—her recipes, her home, her kitchen, her garden, her neighborhood…I’d take it all. But I’d settle for being invited to dinner at her house. That’s on my Life List—have dinner at Ina’s. A girl can dream!

I only needed a few things from the store to make this pie, the rest were in my pantry. While the recipe is pretty simple—the hardest part is whipping egg yokes to the proper consistency, the steps spread out over several hours, making it a slight logistical challenge.

First you make an super easy graham cracker, butter, and sugar crust. It only took about 12 minutes in the oven get golden brown edges.

Ina wrote this recipe intentionally leaving out key limes! Since they are typically very hard to find (there weren’t any at the Alexandria Whole Foods…I was shocked), she made sure this pie would be top notch with the plain variety.

I loved it…squeezing all those tiny key limes is just annoying!

As I mentioned before, this recipe, while easy, takes some planning. And since I didn’t plan to make this pie until the morning of our BBQ, I was barely squeaking by on time. The recipe called for three segments of cooling/freezing time.

  1. Letting the crust cool completely (I used the freezer to help this along).
  2. Freezing the filling in the crust
  3. Freezing again once the whipped cream is added

But, as you can see, even if you are a little short on that last freeze, it will be incredible!

I’m kicking myself about the light in this picture. Gotta get another one next time!

The pie had an intense lime flavor that was cut with the creamy texture of the filling. The smooth vanilla-spiked whipped cream topping really rounded out the richness of this dessert, though altogether it was very light and refreshing.

Another thing I liked about this dessert is that it’s not huge. We each had a (large) slice, leaving only two more. Perfect.

TIP: Next time I will do as Ina suggests and make this a day or two in advance. She says you can keep this pie in the freezer for a month! I bet she always has one ready to go…

P.S. I did NOT use the raw egg notes at the bottom of the recipe…I’ll risk it.

Frozen Key Lime Pie
2002, Barefoot Contessa Family Style, All Rights Reserved

For the Crust:

For the Filling:

  • 6 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 tablespoons grated lime zest
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (4 to 5 limes)

For the (mandatory) decoration:

  • 1 cup (1/2 pint) cold heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Thin lime wedges


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a bowl. Press into a 9-inch pie pan, making sure the sides and the bottom are an even thickness. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

For the filling, beat the egg yolks and sugar on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for 5 minutes, until thick. With the mixer on medium speed, add the condensed milk, lime zest, and lime juice. Pour into the baked pie shell and freeze.

For the decoration, beat the heavy cream on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until firm. Spoon or pipe decoratively onto the pie and decorate with lime. Freeze for several hours or overnight.

Food Network Kitchens suggest caution in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend you use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.



5 Responses
  1. Sandy Schon permalink
    August 26, 2011

    Key Lime pie is one of my favorites. There are times when the stores carry key limes and I buy them in their little bags, juice them and freeze them for future use. I have a ziplock bag of key lime juice in my freezer. Think I’ll thaw it and make it for a friend who loves sweets!! Maybe there will be enough juice for two pies!! My recipe is Ina’s as well. Yummy!!

    • admin permalink*
      August 28, 2011

      Yours is always good! I didn’t know you used Ina’s recipe. I should have guessed

  2. August 27, 2011

    I made key lime pie recently for a BBQ too! I went all crazy-like and made my own vegan condensed milk… wasn’t sure it would turn out but it actually did. The whip cream didn’t so I gotta try it all again. Yours looks beautiful!

    • admin permalink*
      August 28, 2011

      Vegan condensed milk huh…you are very brave. Glad it worked!

  3. Amy Voboril Kohlhepp permalink
    August 29, 2011

    So funny you posted this…we just got a bag full of key lime’s grown at our friends property; along with a yummy recipe from him as well. Paul has been wanting to make the pie for a couple of days now and now we have your blog to look on how to do it..and a frozen version, YUMMY!

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