July 25, 2020
It's the middle of summer in Seattle and not citrus season at all but for whatever reason, I've been having MAJOR cravings for key lime pie. I quickly remembered a delicious version my oldest sister Gina prepared for us when our family gathered together for my mom's 80th birthday celebration a few years ago. It was tart and bold and had something different going on that I couldn't quite put my finger on. She pointed out that the crust was made with gingersnaps and not the traditional and more popular graham crackers. Also, the recipe had originally called for chopped candied ginger, but as the Trader Joe's brand gingersnaps already have candied ginger in them that saves a step AND having to purchase another ingredient. Yey!
Now, I am a crust girl. I do very much love the sweet/tart nature of the filling but I NEED there to be ample crust to support that and offset what can sometimes be a cloyingly sweet flavor bonanza. This tart has a great crust to filling ratio and this makes me very happy. If you are a key lime pie lover then you probably already know that the filling is often just a combination of sweetened condensed milk, key lime juice, and egg yolks in varying proportions. This spicy, gingery crust really elevates everything and somehow tones down the overall sugaryness that is inherent in key lime pie.
Oh, and, don't hate, but I would go so far as to suggest making an unsweetened whipped cream for accompaniment, or if you have to use sugar, just add a tiny bit. The filling is sweet enough!
1/2 cup salted and roasted macadamia nuts (you can sub other nuts, walnut, pecans, etc.)
1 tablespoon flour
1 3/4 cups ground gingersnap crumbs (I use Trader Joe's brand)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup key lime juice (I use Nellie and Joe's)
pinch of salt
zest of 1/2 lime (optional)
Preheat oven to 350° F and have a 9 1/2-inch tart pan with removable bottom ready to go. I love this tart pan! You can keep your pan on a sheet tray, which makes putting it into the oven and taking it out that much easier. If you don't have a tart pan, a 9-inch pie plate will work but you might have too much crumb base and would have to adjust. Just toast up any leftover crumbs and spoon over yogurt, ice cream or oatmeal. YUM!
In a food processor, pulse the macadamia nuts and flour together, enough so that the nuts break down into tiny bits, but not so much that the nuts process into a paste. We aren't trying to make nut butter here. Set that aside.
Add the gingersnaps to the same processor bowl and pulse until you have well, gingersnap crumbs! Measure out 1 3/4 cups crumbs and if you go a little over, that's ok too. Empty the crumbs into a bowl, add the nuts, sugar, ginger, and salt and mix. Add the melted butter and stir until well combined.
Pour the crumbs into the tart pan and press them down evenly and all the way up the sides of the pan. I use the bottom of a measuring cup to smooth everything out. Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool a bit before adding the filling.
Whisk the filling ingredients together, pour into the tart pan and bake for 15 minutes, or until the center is just slightly jiggly. Let cool completely, then cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Oh, and don't forget the whipped cream.