In Season: Key Limes


Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

The term “seasonal” takes a bit of a leap here. Not only are there are no key lime trees in any Brooklyn backyard (that I know of) but key lime trees tend to bear the most fruit and flowers between the months of May and September- a bit of an anomaly in the citrus world. But here we are in citrus season nonetheless and when I saw small mesh bags of those impossibly cute golf ball sized key limes in Chelsea Market, I snatched ’em. Key lime pie ice cream it was to be!

After a little bit of research for this recipe, it seems that many folks forgo the use of eggs and sugar, using sweetened condensed milk instead to emulate actual key lime pie filling and then freezing it right away.  I’m sure it’s delicious and soft and creamy but HEY, that’s not really ice cream.  Also, I had already bought eggs.

IMG_2214I am really happy with how this came out.  What started as a dramatic yellow custard finished a lovely and creamy shade of barely there pastel green. It was sweet and tart and rich with a perfectly soft (but not soggy) graham cracker swirl.  The base did get very thick, very fast.  Not even two minutes went by before I was able to stand a spoon completely upright.  I don’t know if it was because I used 6 egg yolks or because key lime juice naturally sets the custard in key lime pie (fact!). If this happens to you, don’t freak out and continue heating and whisking your custard until a thermometer reads 170-175F.


Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

3/4 cup sugar, with 2 Tb. set aside (150 g.)
2-3 Tb. key lime zest
3 Tb. fresh key lime juice
1 cup whole milk (250 ml.)
2 cups heavy cream (300 ml.)
6 egg yolks
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 ready-made graham cracker pie crust*, crumbled and set aside.

A tip: I would recommend adding a lil’ bit of booze to counteract the use of extra water (the lime juice).  I only had weird tasting digestifs in my house so I used an extra egg yolk to balance out any iciness and to contribute to key lime pie’s classic custard texture.

*Don’t mock my ready-made pie crust. For $1.99, I had the exact amount of graham cracker crumbles vs. $4.99 for a huge box of graham crackers that I would never go through. (Or would go through, way too fast).


1. Combine zest and sugar in a blender or food processor. Buzz ’till well combined and zest is powdered. This will prevent having weird frozen strands of fruit zest in your finished product.

2. Heat milk, salt and zesty sugar in a saucepan. Warm all the way through, until sugar dissolves and the milk slightly thickens.

3. Crack eggs into a separate bowl with the reserved sugar. Whisk.

4. Temper eggs yolks by gradually adding up to a 1/4 cup of the hot milk to the eggs, whisking continually. When the yolks are warmed through, add them to your saucepan. Heat custard until it coats the back of a spoon or until 175F.

5. Chill at least 2 hours or overnight.

6. Whisk in cream, vanilla and key lime juice. Adjust salt level if needed. Churn away! Add in graham cracker crumbles when custard begins to look like soft serve.


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