Sweet Almond Pastry:
1 1/4 cups (160 grams) all-purpose flour
Scant 1/3 cup (30 grams) almond meal (ground almonds)
1/2 cup (65 grams) firmly packed confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) salt
Seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean (optional)
5 tablespoons (70 grams) cold unsalted butter, diced
3 large cold egg yolks (52 grams)
Key Lime Filling:
3 large egg yolks (52 grams), at room temperature
One 14 - ounce can sweetened condensed milk (395 grams)
1/2 cup (120 ml) Key lime juice (can use regular limes or bottled Key lime juice)
1 teaspoon grated lime zest (outer green skin) (optional)
1 cup (240 ml) cold heavy whipping cream (35-40% butterfat content)
1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated white sugar (or to taste)
Sweet Almond Pastry: First sift the flour with the almond meal, confectioners sugar, baking powder, and salt. Place in the bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. (Can also use a hand mixer). Add the chunks of cold butter and beat on medium low speed until the mixture is mealy (grainy with no visible pieces of butter). Add the cold egg yolks and seeds from the vanilla bean (if using) and beat on low speed until the dough comes together (pastry will be yellow in color).
Place the pastry onto your work surface and gather into a ball. Divide the pastry into 6 equal pieces (about 60 grams each). Wrap each piece of pastry in plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least six hours (the pastry can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days or frozen for up to three months). After the pastry has chilled sufficiently, place on a lightly floured surface, and roll each piece into a 5 1/2 inch (14 cm) round. (To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll.) Place the rounds of pastry on a baking sheet, cover, and chill in the refrigerator for about 15-30 minutes (to firm up the pastry which makes it easier to place in the tart rings). Then gently place each round into a 4 x 3/4 inch (10 x 2 cm) tart ring (or tart pan). Never pull the pastry or you will get shrinkage (shrinkage is caused by too much pulling of the pastry when placing it in the tart pan). Gently lay in pan and lightly press the pastry onto the bottom and up the sides of the tart ring. With a sharp knife cut excess pastry from top of tart ring. Then with a thumb up movement, again press dough into creases of ring. Place the tart rings on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover, and place in the refrigerator while you preheat your oven.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
Lightly prick the bottom of each pastry crust with the tines of a fork (this will prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes). Line each unbaked pastry shell with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Fill each tart ring with pie weights or beans, making sure the weights are to the top of the ring and evenly distributed over the entire surface. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until crust is dry and lightly browned. Place on a wire rack. Remove the paper and weights and let the tart shells cool.
Key Lime Filling: In the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, (or with a hand mixer) beat the egg yolks until pale and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Gradually add the condensed milk and beat until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and then beat in the lime juice and zest.
Fill each tart shell about 3/4 full with the filling and bake for about 10 - 15 minutes, or until the filling is just set (the center of the filling will still look a little wet). Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once they have completely cooled, refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
Whipped Cream: Once the tarts have chilled, in the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the whipping cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Either pipe or place mounds of whipping cream on top of the filling. Can be stored in the refrigerator for a 2-3 days.
Makes 6 - 4 inch (10 cm) tarts
A Key Lime Pie was first made in the Florida Keys, which is also where Key limes are grown. John Mariani in 'The Dictionary of American Food and Drink' tells us that the recipe for Key Lime Pie came after the 1856 invention of sweetened condensed milk.
A Key Lime Pie can have a graham cracker crust or a pastry crust. Since there is already a Key Lime Pie recipe on the site that uses a graham cracker crust, for this recipe we are using a pastry crust. And instead of one large pie, we are making six - four inch (10 cm) tarts. However, you can make this recipe in an 8 or 9 inch (20 or 23 cm) tart or pie pan. If using a large tart or pie pan, the baking times for both the crust and filling will be about the same as for individual tarts.
A few notes on ingredients. Key limes are a small, round, hard, yellow and green colored, acidic fruit. They are instantly recognizable as they are so much smaller than a regular Persian lime. It takes about 25-35 Key limes to get 1/2 cup (120 ml) of lime juice whereas you need only about 4 to 5 Persian limes to get the same amount of juice. If you cannot buy Key limes in your area, then you could use regular Persian limes or even bottled Key lime juice. Besides lime juice, the filling also contains sweetened condensed milk which is a thick, sticky and very sweet mixture that makes a wonderful Key lime filling. It is made from whole milk and sugar that are heated until most of the water has evaporated.