A classic key lime pie is made with sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks and lots of fresh key lime juice. In the original recipe, the pie is unbaked and relies on the acid from the lime juice to “cook” the egg yolks and thicken the pie. It works well, but because of concerns with having uncooked eggs in the pie, most key lime pies are baked in the oven or omit the eggs entirely in favor of using gelatin to firm up the pie. There are plenty of really great, slightly non-traditional key lime pies out there, but I find that few have the creaminess of that classic unbaked pie.
Until I made this one, which just might be my new favorite key lime pie recipe.
This is a non-traditional key lime pie in that it tastes like key lime pie, but there is not an egg in sight. This pie uses sweetened condensed milk for sweetness, cream cheese for creaminess and a little bit of gelatin to help the pie firm up while it chills in the refrigerator. It is incredibly light and creamy, and it has such a good lime flavor that you would never know that there was cream cheese in there. I also put a very thin layer of white chocolate between the filling and the graham cracker crust of this pie to ensure that the crust stayed crispy and flavorful, and didn’t get soggy from the filling.
I actually used regular lime juice in this pie and not key lime (because I have a lime tree), so feel free to use whatever limes are convenient to you as long as you use freshly squeezed lime juice. Don’t be tempted to go with bottled juice because not only do you need the lime zest to go into the filling, but you pie won’t have the same flavor as it will with fresh.
Cream Cheese Key Lime Pie
2-oz white chocolate, melted
9-inch graham cracker crust (homemade or storebought)
6-oz cream cheese, room temperature
14-oz sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup lime juice
1 tbsp lime zest
1 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
1 tsp vanilla extract
Using a pastry brush, spread the white chocolate in a very thin layer over the surface of a cooled (or store bought) graham cracker crust. Put crust in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to allow the chocolate to set up.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, 1/2 cup lime juice and lime zest. Whizz until smooth.
In a small bowl, combine remaining lime juice, gelatin and vanilla extract. Heat in the microwave for 30 to 60 seconds, until juice is hot enough that the gelatin dissolves into it completely when you stir it. With the food processor running, very slowly stream the gelatin mixture into the cream cheese mixture.
Pour filling into white chocolate-lined graham cracker crust and refrigerate for 3-4 hours, until set.
Graham Cracker Crust
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
7 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
Preheat oven to 350.
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and plus to combine. Pour into a 9-inch pie plate and press into an even layer on the sides and bottom of the pan.
Bake for 12-16 minutes, until crust is lightly browned.
Cool completely before using.