No trip to the Florida Keys is complete without enjoying the national dessert of the Conch Republic, the Key Lime Pie. Key Lime Pie is a staple of many Southern restaurant dessert menus for good reason. When done well, Key Lime Pie balances sweet and tart flavors with creamy and crunch textures for a cool-me-down-on-a-muggy-Southern-day appeal.
Our trip to the Florida Keys didn’t disappoint. We enjoyed Key Lime Pie in it’s most traditional form at Sparky’s Landing in Key Colony Beach, on a stick dipped in chocolate at Kermit’s in Key West, and with homemade mile-high meringue at Kaya’s Island Eats. The latter earned the prize for best Key Lime Pie of the entire trip.
Upon our return home, we quickly allocated half of our bag of key limes to the job of making a Key Lime Pie-inspired dessert. We wouldn’t be extending our vacation memories if we forgot dessert, now would we?
What we came up with is a simple dessert that we’re calling Key Lime Tiny Tarts. Our little tarts look like a million bucks, take almost no time to make and call for simple pantry ingredients. You can make this recipe in a round cake pan and serve in pie shapes or prepare it in a square pan and cut servings into “bars.” For an extra bit of dazzle, we used our biscuit cutter to cut out “tiny tarts” from our pan to serve up a beautiful round dessert that received rave reviews from our dinner guests.
Recipe: Key Lime Pie Tiny Tarts
- 1 package of graham crackers (approximately 15 oz)
- 1/4 cup packaged flake coconut
- 3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons butter, melted
- pinch of salt
- 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup key lime juice
- 1 Tablespoon key lime zest
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 egg yolk
- pinch of salt
- Homemade Whipped Cream made with 1 cup whipping cream and 2 Tablespoons confectioners sugar
- additional confectioner’s sugar for dusting
- fresh mint
- key lime slices
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Farenheit. Line an 8-inch baking pan with foil with extra hanging over edges of pan. Lightly spray foil with non-stick cooking spray.
Add crackers and flake coconut to food processor and process until finely ground, about 15 seconds. Add the brown sugar and salt to the mixture and pulse a few times to combine. Drizzle the melted butter over the mixture and pulse until the mixture is evenly moistened, about 10-20 pulses. Press the cracker mixture evenly onto the bottom of the foil-lined pan (not the sides). Bake until crust begins to darken, about 16-20 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack while you mix up the filling.
To make the filling, stir together the cream cheese, key lime zest and salt in a bowl. Add the sweetened condensed milk and whisk until the ingredients are completely mixed and no lumps remain. Whisk in the egg yolk, then add the key lime juice and whisk gently until the juice is incorporated.
Pour the filling into the crust and smooth it into an even layer in the pan. Bake until the filling is set and the edges of the filling begin to pull away from the sides of the pan (about 15-20 minutes). Remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire rack and cool dessert to room temperature before covering with foil and refrigerating. This dessert is best fully chilled, so leave it in the refrigerator at least two hours, but we recommend overnight. You can prepare this dessert up to three days in advance, if you keep it refrigerated, which makes it a great choice for entertaining!
When you’re ready to serve the dessert, prepare the garnishes by mixing the whipping cream and sugar in a mixer with whisk attachment until stiff peaks appear. Clip and wash fresh mint leaves and thinly slice a key lime. Run a knife around the edge of your pan and lift the dessert from the pan completely using the foil overhangs. Cut the dessert into squares, wedges or circle “tarts” and move to individual dessert plates. Top with a dollop of whipped cream, dust with confectioners sugar and place a mint leaf and lime slice on plate for additional garnish. Serve immediately.
Need a Florida Keys themed meal to match your Key Lime Pie inspired dessert? Try this Florida Keys dinner menu with recipes as well as this Key Lime Chiller drink recipe for more uses for your fresh key limes or key lime juice.