'Tis Almost the Season

October 15 is the beginning of stone crab season and do you know what that means?

It means it's time to make key lime pie! Traditionally, or at least in David's world, a dinner with stone crabs requires homemade mustard sauce, perfectly cooked hash browns and key lime pie.

This is a dinner I have had dozens of times throughout the years together either because the stone crabs were flown in for us or we bought them at a seafood store or because we were eating at Joe's Stone Crab in Miami.

I know it's not yet October 15, but I made a key lime pie in honor of David's __ birthday. You can fill-in-the-blank with whatever number you want, but David says that this year it's 5-0, so there.

Ever since I met David, I have known about this special meal he absolutely adores. He came to Texas from Florida and I know he sorely missed stone crabs and Cuban food, though he quickly did learn to adore breakfast tacos and enchiladas with chili gravy.

Stone crabs are an amazing discovery and are even more delicious to eat. The beauty of this crab is that there are rules on how and when you can capture them, which keeps them sustainable.

For example, you can only eat stone crabs from October 15 through May 15. You can only remove one claw so the species will never die off and so they can still defend themselves. Incredibly, the claws grow back. There are various other rules which have kept everyone's bellies filled with stone crabs for decades!

Needless to say, I quickly learned how to make a fantabulous key lime pie to accompany these addictive sea creatures. Or else! Actually, we bought the Joe's Stone Crab cookbook when we were at the restaurant once and I have been the best key lime pie maker ever since. Once people find out I make a great key lime pie, they always want it.

And now you, too, can make the best key lime pie. Or you can ask me and I might make one for you. Or better yet, you bring the stone crabs and I'll definitely make the key lime pie.

Happy birthday, David! Te quiero mucho.

Buen provecho!
Key Lime Pie
The Cowgirl Gourmet slightly adapted this recipe from the Joe's Stone Crab cookbook

Print recipe

This pie is wicked! Make this and people will be falling at your feet. I mean, have you ever met anyone who doesn't love key lime pie? The additional lime zest in the crust, I think, makes this delectable pie even more distinctive.

1 package (1/3 of a lb. box of graham crackers) or 1 cup plus 2 1/2 Tablespoons of graham crackers, crushed into a fine grind
5 Tablespoons melted butter, unsalted
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
1/3 cup sugar (I used Ideal, but coconut sugar is also a viable option)

3 farm fresh egg yolks
1 1/2-2 teaspoons lime zest
1-14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (approximately 15-20 key limes; if you can't find key limes, you can use regular limes but do not use bottled juice)

1 cup whipping cream
1 Tablespoon confectioner's sugar
Sliced key limes or more zest for garnish, optional

For the crust
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch pie pan. Break up the graham crackers; place in a food processor and process until they are crumbs. (If you don't have a food processor, place the crackers in a large plastic bag; seal and then crush the crackers with a rolling pin.) Add the melted butter, sugar and lime zest and pulse or stir until combined.
Press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the pie pan, forming a neat border around the edge. Bake the crust until set and golden, 8 minutes. Set aside on a wire rack; leave the oven on.

For the filling
Meanwhile, using an electric mixer with the wire whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and lime zest at high speed until very fluffy, about 5 minutes. Gradually add the condensed milk and continue to beat until thick, 3 or 4 minutes longer. Lower the mixer speed and slowly add the lime juice, mixing just until combined, no longer. Pour the mixture into the crust. Bake for 10 minutes or until the filling has just set. Cool on a wire rack, then refrigerate. Freeze for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

For the topping
Whip the cream and the confectioners' sugar until nearly stiff. Cut the pie in wedges and serve very cold, topping each wedge with a large dollop of whipped cream, adding a slice of lime or zest for garnish, if desired.
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