Key Lime Tart with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

EpicureanPiranha | April 18th, 2011 - 23:52

The other day when I was grocery shopping, to my delight I saw they had just received a huge shipment of Key Limes!

Key Lime Pie - mine II 01

The freshness of Key limes in the filling, combined with lightly sweetened whipped cream flavoured with a whole vanilla bean, makes a lovely dessert.

The lovely Key lime is a small round fruit, yellowish-green in colour when it’s ripe, but usually picked green off the tree by commercial growers. The Mexican variety tends to be a little greener, as you can see from the limes I purchased below in my photo. It has a very thin skin, hence its name in Malay, “limau nipis”, which literally means “thin lime”, and has a wonderful flavour, more tart and bitter than regular limes. In fact, this small fruit originated in Southeast Asia, and like many exotic fruits and spices, eventually made its way to North America through the trade routes.

Key Lime Still Life 66 400w

Beautiful, tiny Key limes. This small, round fruit originated in Southeast Asia. It’s a little more tart than its larger cousin, the Persian or Tahiti Lime, usually found in supermarkets.

The large, green, lime found in supermarkets is the Persian or Tahiti Lime (citrus latifolia). Larger than the Key Lime, it has a thicker rind, tends to be sweeter, but has the advantage of being seedless.

I love the freshness of limes in both savoury and sweet foods.  And what a delightful, zesty taste in Key Lime pie, one of my three favourite cream pies (the other two are banoffee cream and coconut cream pie, but I’ll get to those another day!). So when I saw these pretty little limes, I just had to buy some to make Florida’s signature pie!

Although regular limes are often used when making Key lime pie, the perfect sharpness of Key limes is incomparable in flavour in this delicious tart! However, you will need a little patience for juicing them because they are so small and have lots of seeds!

Key Limes - extracting juice 03 608

It takes a little patience to extract the juice from tiny Key limes, but the flavour is well worth it!

And although I LOve meringue, I personally prefer freshly whipped cream on mine. But since I wanted to make this tart even more special, I decided to flavour the cream with the seeds from a whole vanilla bean to give it a more sophisticated look and flavour.

Once you’ve juiced the limes, making it couldn’t be simpler!

And here’s a little piece of trivia: according to wikipedia, “In 2006 both the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate passed legislation {HB 453} and {SB 676} effecting that key lime pie is the ‘Official Pie of the State of Florida’, as of July 1, 2006.”

Key Lime Pie - mine 03

♥ Delicious and fresh tasting, my Key Lime Tart with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream ♥

My Key Lime Tart

The Tart Shell

  • Preheat the oven to 180C and position the rack in the centre of the oven.
  • Have a loose-bottomed 20 cm tart pan with high fluted edges, or a regular 22 cm tart pan ready.
Quantity Ingredient Prep
170 g Graham crackers Finely crushed.
60 ml Butter Melted.
  • The simplest way to make the tart shell is to break the crackers by hand in a few pieces, add them to your food processor and pulse until pulverised. Then turn on the machine and feed the melted butter through the feed tube until well blended.
  • If you don’t have a food processor, place the crackers in a heavy plastic bag (a freezer ziplock bag is perfect) and crush with a rolling pin. Put into a small bowl, add the melted butter and blend with a wooden spoon.
  • Press the buttery crumbs into the tart pan, pressing evenly on bottom and up the edges.
  • Place in the center of your preheated oven and bake for 9 to 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

The Key Lime Filling and Topping

Quantity Ingredient Prep
30 ml Key lime zest Use a zester to zest the tiny limes.
125 ml Key lime juice You will need 14 – 16 key limes (they’re tiny!)
2 Large fresh eggs
1 x 300 ml Eagle Brand ® sweetened condensed milk 
1 Whole vanilla bean
250 ml Whipping (35%) cream
45 ml Icing (powdered) sugar
  • First, carefully zest the limes until you have about 30 ml. Place into a med-sized bowl.
  • Now juice the limes until you have 125 ml. Add to the zest.
  • Mix in the 2 eggs until well blended using a fork or a wooden spoon.
  • Add the sweetened condensed milk and blend well.
  • Carefully pour into the baked tart shell, and place in the preheated oven. Bake 25 – 35 minutes until set (the smaller tart is deeper and will take a little longer to cook).
  • Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

The shell is delicate, so be careful when removing the rim of the fluted tart shell once it is completely cool. It’s best to leav the tart on the bottom of the tart pan and to place this on your presentation plate. You can place a paper doily underneath.

  • Slice the vanilla bean open with a small, sharp knife, and scoop the seeds into the cream. Whip until it starts to thicken, then add a few tablespoonfuls of icing sugar. Whip to blend. Taste and add more sugar if you wish. Note: You just want a delicate sweetness.
  • Spoon the vanilla bean whipped cream on top of the tart, and chill for a few hours before serving for the vanilla flavour to develop.

You can decorate the tart with fresh or candied lime zest, and/or a few sprigs of fresh mint.

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