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have key limes.....now what

I have a bag of key limes, I would like to bake something but I don't have condensed milk and am not sure about the key lime pie recipes since they all seem to use condensed milk. I would like a recipe that is tart not sugary sweet....any suggestions???? complete recipes would be appreicated. thanks chowhounds!

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    1. why not go get some condensed milk and do the key lime pie you mentioned?

      2 Replies
      1. re: mljones99

        I don't really like condensed milk and would like to make something different. But thank's for the thought..

      2. This is a very nice recipe for key lime cheesecake with a key-lime-marinaded fresh mango topping (which you could probably leave off if getting mangoes is an issue). It used cream cheese and sour cream -- no condensed milk. I'd use less sugar than the recipe calls for if you want it really tart (the way I like it):


        1. Baked Lime Custards

          (For 6 people)

          You need:

          4 tablespoons (50 g) unsalted butter, soft + more for molds
          2/3 cup (80 g) blond cane sugar
          4 large eggs, separated
          4 tablespoons millet flour
          1 teaspoon baking powder
          2 large limes, for juice and zest
          1 inch ginger root, peeled and finely grated
          2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
          Pinch of sea salt
          10.5 oz (300 g) raspberries
          Confectioner’s sugar, to serve


          Preheat the oven to 350 F and butter 6 shallow wide bowls (mine measure 6 1/4″ by 2″); set aside.

          In the bowl of a food processor, cream the butter and sugar together for a few minutes, and then add the egg yolks, one at a time. Beat until well incorporated.

          Add the millet flour and baking powder and beat until combined.

          Add the lime zest and juice and ginger.

          Stir in the coconut milk.

          Whip the egg whites firm with a pinch of salt and fold them in the previous batter.

          Divide the lime batter between the bowls and stud the custard with raspberries. Bake the desserts for 20 minutes or until the flan is set and the top is golden in color. Let cool and dust with confectioner’s sugar when ready to serve. I find the custard best eaten lukewarm or at room temperature.

          1. I have this simple recipe, too, that I've never tried. It's so easy, though, doesn't require any specialty ingredients, and would use up so little of your lime supply, that I thought it might be worth posting:


            2C flour
            1C sugar
            1Tblsp baking powder
            1/3C milk
            2 eggs
            1/4C oil
            1 tsp to 1Tblsp key lime rind (to taste), finely grated
            1/4C fresh key lime juice

            Preheat oven to 375 deg F and oil and flour muffin tins.

            Combine dry ingredients; make a well. Combine wet ingredients; pour into the dry ingredients well. Stir until just moistened and mixed….don’t over mix!

            Spoon into muffin tins and bake at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

            1. if you make it right, your key lime pie *will* be tart. (You're in control of the juice quantity -- make it as tart or sweet as you like)

              It'll take about 1/3-1/2 cup of juice to make the filling set correctly (depends on your particular limes)-- anything beyond that is absolutely to your taste only.

              Don't knock it until you've tried it.

              1. I haven't used key limes myself but your question gets me thinking. At Thanksgiving I make a raw cranberry relish by chopping a bag of cranberries and a few whole clementines, skin and all in the food processor with sugar. I also slice whole kumquat and eat the skin.

                How about something like whole key limes (Do they have seeds? Cit in half and remove if so.) in the food processor with coconut and sugar for some sort of a similar relish. Not sure, but maybe it would taste good with something spicy added.

                3 Replies
                1. re: calliope_nh

                  Key limes are very seedy and tricky to juice. A lever action squeeze makes it easy. Their zest is too bitter to enjoy, IMO.

                  1. re: marthasway

                    On another thread, someone suggested juicing key limes with a garlic press. I thought that was innovative.

                    In general, I don't like to juice key limes. Neither does America's Test Kitchen. They used regular persian limes rather than do it. I usually use "Nellie and Joes" bottled key lime juice and canned sweetened condensed milk. You'll just have to forgive me on that one.

                    I do add an extra (4th) egg yolk for volume and richness.

                    1. re: Hank Hanover

                      You are forgiven, since the trade off is between that and hand cramps!

                      My wife usually used the bottle juice and it's pie recipe. But the time we used the Persian limes, zest, and a crust made from digestive biscuits got the most raves.

                      I wonder if Key Lime pie would have such a mystique if it was called Mexican Lime pie.

                2. what is being missed here is the pretty important point that these are NOT the Persian limes you buy at the grocery (for those unfamiliar - Key limes are yellow like lemons on the outside, about the size of a golf ball or a little smaller, and have pale green flesh).

                  They are **significantly*** more acidic than Persian limes. **significantly**...that means a whole hella lot.

                  You cannot just substitute one for the other -- and you cannot have key lime juice without **something** to break the acidity -- they are damned near inedible as they are.

                  So no -- just because it has condensed milk does NOT mean it will be sugary and bland.

                  And no -- you don't want to just chop it up in a relish, because it will be inedible.

                  Ceviche...cocktails...cheesecake -- there are plenty of recipes, but you cannot treat them like a Persian lime.

                  (have a Key lime tree in my yard...and have squeezed more of them in my life than I could *ever* count)

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: sunshine842

                    thanks for the suggestions, I'm wondering can I use evaporated milk instead of condensed? I was also thinking more of a lime curd type item??....

                    1. re: heylids

                      Evaporated milk is not sweet, so you'd need to add sugar in addition. I don't know that it would mimic the texture of condensed milk, though.

                      1. re: heylids

                        Biondanonima is right -- you'd lose the flavor AND the texture of a traditional key lime pie, so your chances of failure are pretty high.

                        In the traditional recipe, the acidity of the limes is actually powerful enough to create changes in the protein links of the s-c milk and the egg yolks that mimic the protein changes brought about by cooking (yes, the traditional key lime pie filling has uncooked egg yolks. No, there are no epidemics of egg-related food poisoning related to key lime pie that I've ever seen) The egg yolks and s-c milk thicken into a custard that can be left as sweet or made as tart as you prefer. Add the lime juice a little at a time -- a little goes a very long way, and you can easily end up with "so tart you can't eat it".

                        You *could* make a curd out of it -- but curd recipes aren't any less sweet than a traditional pie.

                        But do me a favor -- keep the green food coloring out of it, and don't you DARE put Cool Whip or whipped cream on it. If you don't eat it naked, just some *very* lightly sweetened meringue will suffice.

                        Traditional Florida Key Lime Pie

                        3 egg yolks
                        1 can sweetened condensed milk
                        1/3-1/2 cup key lime juice (varies with the limes)

                        Stir together the egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk. Add 1/4 cup of lime juice, and whisk gently to combine. Slowly add more lime juice, until the whisk begins to leave obvious tracks in the custard. (let it sit for 30-40 seconds between additions to let the proteins begin to bond). Now start to taste -- add a dribble of lime juice at a time until it reaches the tartness level you desire. yes it will be sweet when you start tasting...but that's what you're working on fixing.

                        Pour into a baked pie shell, cover and refrigerate.

                        If you need to dress it up, whip the 3 egg whites (from the preparation) to stiff peaks, and fold in just a little bit of sugar (it changes the texture a little and helps stabilize the peaks a bit). Bake at 375 8-10 minutes or until golden.

                    2. You could do a key lime curd and fold it into some stabilized whipped cream and put it in a pie shell. An ice box pie if you like. To be colorful, you could drizzle some raspberry sauce over the top.

                      Another option put a layer of pastry cream on the bottom of a pie shell...the kind with lots of cornstarch so that it is sliceable. Pour key lime curd over the top of that.

                      Another option would be to substitute key lime juice for lemon juice in any custard pie or key lime bars.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Hank Hanover

                        Hank, you can't sub exact proportions of key lime juice for lemon juice -- the acidity will alter the recipe.

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          As far as I know, lemon juice and lime juice have the same acidity (ph level). If they vary, it wouldn't vary by much and, consequently, wouldn't make much difference. A good thick curd needs to have a ph level of 3 or below.

                          I couldn't stand it. I looked it up.Llemon juice has a ph level of 2.2-2.4 and lime juice has a ph level of 1.8 - 2.0. That seems pretty close and I have made the old key lime pie recipe with lemon juice, it works.

                          1. re: Hank Hanover

                            Not *key lime* juice...it really is different -- you don't need a pH meter or strips, just a tongue.

                            I've Googled my fingers off looking for a number, but can't find one -- only a unanimous agreement that Key are more acidic than Persian, which are in turn more acidic than lemons.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              Well get some litmus paper and measure it and get back to me.

                              It might affect how much sugar you use but doesn't affect how much egg or sweetened condensed milk you would use. Most people routinely use more egg yolks than the absolutely needed for additional richness, volume and thickness.

                            2. re: Hank Hanover

                              I've used regular limes in place of key limes in a pie recipe without problem. This was in the lightly baked version, where the acidity of the juice may not a critical as in the no-bake version. Some zest adds a nice touch.

                        2. I happened to see a David Lebovitz recipe this morning for lemon bars that calls for destroying one *whole lemon* (skin, pith, flesh -- no seeds) in a food processor. I wonder if limes could be used instead.
                          Here's the linkhttp://www.davidlebovitz.com/2011/02/whole-l...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: blue room

                            I saw him do that, too. It seems to me that limes, especially key limes are more bitter than lemons anyway. I don't think I will be doing it soon.

                          2. Ever think of trying some Key Lime Mousse? This one sounds great; mixed with white chocolate.
                            Think I need to pick up some heavy cream and try. Rest of stuff already on pantry shelf. Yup, Going to store now - will let know how turns out. :)

                            1. I've made key lime curd before, and used that to fill mini tarts. I used the lemon curd recipe from the Fine Cooking website (http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/le...). Acidity issues aside, I just subbed key lime for the lemon (and omitted the zest) and it worked out fine. Just make sure it has had time to set before cutting into the tart.

                              To summarize the curd recipe (which is the easiest I've ever made):

                              6 Tbsp softened butter
                              1 cup sugar
                              2 large eggs
                              2 egg yolks
                              2/3 cup key lime juice

                              Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and yolks. Add the juice. (Don't worry if the consistency looks funny.) Cook over low heat until smooth, then up the heat to medium and cook until thick. Make sure it doesn't boil. Chill in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap right up against the curd to prevent a skin from forming. I chilled mine until cool, but not completely set, and then poured it into pre-baked mini-tart shells and put them back in the fridge to set. I added a swirl of pastry cream to the top, but that's optional.

                              If it's too sweet, you could probably cut out a bit of the sugar. Or you could cut the curd with whipped cream or mascarpone.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: BananaBirkLarsen

                                Hello All, thanks for the suggestions and tips, I decided to make lime curd, thanks BBL, I used your recipe. And also to Sunshine for the tip, I used a garlic press, cut the key limes and half and squeezed! Great tip, the only thing I noticed is that some of the oil from the skins made it a bit bitter. It should still be alright.....WIll make some tarts out of the curd...again thanks for all the responses!!!