Dedicated to the Keys: Key Lime Pie a favorite Florida memory for Belleville

Take a bite of this Key Lime Pie and be transported to the Florida Keys.

Barb Belleville tried the tart pie during a trip south, then started looking for a recipe that best mimicked what she tasted.

“To be honest, I don’t know what I was looking for, other than just Key Lime Pie recipes” she said.

Belleville said after looking at 20 recipes, she found this one on Pinterest. Family members who were Key Lime Pie aficionados tried it and said the recipe was just like the pie that they had in the Keys.

“I think the secret is its two cans of sweetened condensed milk and the sour cream,” she said. “When I saw that (sour cream), I thought yeah, this is it.”

Belleville said the sour cream adds a smoothness to the filling and reduces some of the tartness that is inherent with the limes.

She used to make lemon pie that had just one can of the sweetened milk and some lemon. It was just so common, she said.

The topping can be purchased, but she suggested making the whipped cream to really impress people. Double the recipe for the homemade whipped to really go crazy when putting it on the pie.

Finding the key limes can be a challenge; Belleville found the ones for this pie at Walmart.

Key limes tend to be small and seedy with a tart flavor. Grocery store limes are generally Persian limes, which are the commercially cultivated variety of lime.

Belleville said it took two bags of key limes to get the amount of juice she needed.

Regular limes can be used as a substitute but adjust the amount since less juice is needed.

Key Lime Pie originated in Key West, Florida, in the late 19th century. Now, it can be found in numerous variations at restaurants throughout the Florida Keys.

She and husband Jamie went to Key West about 12 years ago, but he wasn’t into pie like she was. For her it’s about the sugar, for him it was salt.

Jamie died in November 2021.

Belleville, who is from McComb, started cooking a lot once she got married. Following in the footsteps of here mother-in-law, Marguerite, was tough.

“She was a wonderful cook,” Belleville said.

When she would try to replicate a recipe she got from Marguerite, Jamie would be diplomatic, Belleville said. He would never say it was better or worse than his mom’s, she said.

Her children, Bruce, Audrey and Laura, all live close as do her seven grandchildren.

The children spent much of their youth working at Belleville Market downtown on South Main Street.

Belleville’s own mother didn’t do much cooking, but she liked to make pies.

Belleville likes to bake and has a love of cookies, cheesecake and pies – many recipes she got from co-workers during her time teaching at Conneaut Elementary.

Belleville taught fourth grade from 1975-2010.

She said that she tends to change a recipe more than she follows it. It’s not an applied science.

“That comes from experience.”

Key Lime Pie.

Key Lime Pie

Ingredients for crust

2 cups crushed graham crackers

1/4 cup sugar

6 tablespoons melted butter

Ingredients for pie filling

2 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup sour cream (not light)

3/4 cup key lime juice

2 egg yolks

2 teaspoons lime zest (may use key lime zest or regular lime zest. Save 1 teaspoon for later.)

Directions

Crush crackers, add sugar and butter. Stir until blended then press in deep 9-inch pie pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 6 minutes.

Beat condensed milk, sour cream, lime juice and egg yolks for 2-3 minutes until thick. Stir in 1 teaspoon zest. Pour mixture onto graham cracker crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until set. Filling can still be a bit jiggly.

Cool for 30-40 minutes. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.

Whipped Cream

8 tablespoons heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Whip cream to stiff peaks then slowly add vanilla and powdered sugar until just blended. You can double the ingredients for double the topping.

Can use extra lime zest as a garnish on the whipped cream.

Keep whipped cream and pie refrigerated until ready to serve. Refrigerate leftovers.

Key Lime Pie

Ingredients for crust

2 cups crushed graham crackers

1/4 cup sugar

6 tablespoons melted butter

Ingredients for pie filling

2 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup sour cream (not light)

3/4 cup key lime juice

2 egg yolks

2 teaspoons lime zest (may use key lime zest or regular lime zest. Save 1 teaspoon for later.)

Directions

Crush crackers, add sugar and butter. Stir until blended then press in deep 9-inch pie pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 6 minutes.

Beat condensed milk, sour cream, lime juice and egg yolks for 2-3 minutes until thick. Stir in 1 teaspoon zest. Pour mixture onto graham cracker crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until set. Filling can still be a bit jiggly.

Cool for 30-40 minutes. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.

Whipped Cream

8 tablespoons heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Whip cream to stiff peaks then slowly add vanilla and powdered sugar until just blended. You can double the ingredients for double the topping.

Can use extra lime zest as a garnish on the whipped cream.

Keep whipped cream and pie refrigerated until ready to serve. Refrigerate leftovers.