Key Lime Pie with Brown Sugar Meringue

2 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs 
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 stick melted butter
2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
1 cup fresh Key lime juice (see note)
5 eggs, separated
Combine first 3 ingredients.  Press into a 9-inch pie plate.  To make crust an even thickness, place an 8" pan on top of the crumbs and press down.   Bake at 350-degrees for 10 minutes; cool.  
Beat egg yolks and pour through sieve to eliminate any solids.   Mix milk and lime juice and then stir in egg yolks until blended.   Pour into cooled crust.  Bake at 325 degrees for 20  minutes.  At this point, pie can be chilled for several days (covered).    Top with meringue and bake for approximately 15 minutes at 325 until desired degree of browning occurs.    
Brown Sugar Meringue:
1 and 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup water
5 egg whites ( at room temperature)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Put sugar and water in heavy saucepan and heat over medium high heat until the mixture reaches 245 degrees.  A candy thermometer is a must for this.  Start beating egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed with an electric mixer as you begin heating the sugar.  The egg whites need to be forming firm peaks before adding the hot sugar.  As soon as the sugar reaches the correct temperature, slowly drizzle it into the egg white mixture and continue beating until stiff peaks form.  Spread over pie, making sure to cover the filling out to the edge of the crust.   For best results, make meringue no more than 2 hours prior to serving as it will begin to deflate slightly as it sits. 
Note:  It takes about 30 small key limes to get 1 cup of juice.  I usually get 2 small bags of Key limes at Publix and it comes out to exactly 1 cup.  A lemon squeezer is handy for this. 

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