january citrus break: lime tart

key lime pie

My husband’s birthday is January 2nd and while I love my husband dearly, I’m not so keen on celebrating the day of his birth so close to the holidays. After a month of chocolates and sweets, I’m eager to get on with whole grains, raw vegetables and the like. But after years of birthday pie and cake making, I’ve discovered the solution to coping with sweets right after the holidays. And that answer, my friends, is citrus. Seriously, it’s light and bright and I think most deserts made with lemons and limes can’t be too heavy and cloying. Plus, it has the added advantage of making us look ahead towards summer and in the middle of winter that can only be a good thing.

stack o' limes

Previous January birthday treats for Cornelius have included lemon meringue pie, a coconut lime cake and a coconut-banana cream pie. Light and tropical! And then there were other birthdays that included a chocolate chip banana bread and ginger loaf and a red ale chocolate cake (yes, beer birthdays are the best). But I think this lime tart has been my favorite birthday baking treat so far and I’m just itching to make it again.

cut limes

When most people think of lime tarts, a key lime pie is the thing that comes to most minds. It’s got a lovely retro pull and it just sounds refreshing. But the thing about those itsy-bitsy tiny little limes is that you have to juice every single one of them. I’ve heard tales of people using garlic presses to make the juicing of those little green fruit easier, but for me, I like the plain ol’ limes. Every store has them and if you pick right, you can get some juicy little buggers. The trick is to let them come to room temperature and then press on them with your palm just before juicing. Some say use a microwave to heat them up first, but we got rid of ours ages ago, and a good press against the countertop does wonders.

key lime pie, unbaked

The truth is, I was a little worried because I goofed while mixing up the filling. I used my favorite recipe which calls for yolks only. But as I was whisking away the yolks and the condensed milk, I mistakenly tossed in the egg whites along with the lime juice. But you know what, despite my initial shock that I had done something terribly wrong, it ended up making the perfect pie! The photo above is the the pie just before going in the oven. It looked pretty dang wonderful. I was concerned that the pie filling would be too stiff but the resulting filling was soft and creamy with the added bonus of not wasting any egg whites! My plans on trying out a seven-minute frosting were shot to hell, but I remedied that with some rum-soaked whipping cream which I think made for a perfect dollop of sweetness to contrast against this tart lil’ tart.

key lime pie, slice

I tend to have a heavy hand when it comes to pouring booze. One of our friends who partook in this pie thought my whipped topping was pretty rummy indeed (I, however, thought it perfect). If you did want to make some sweet rum whipping cream, just whip most of a small container of heavy cream and add a tablespoon of powdered sugar (more if you like it sweet) and a glug of good dark rum (Goslings Black Seal is my fave). If free pouring scares you, start off with a teaspoon and taste – adding more if needed. And if you think like me, more is needed.

And the bonus of fluffy dollops of whipped cream is that it hides those tell-tale candle holes left in the pie. We do birthdays up right in our house. Thankfully, we only went with 6 candles instead of the 30-plus candles that would have been necessary for a proper birthday send-off!

key lime pie

elsewhere: Not interested in dessert just yet? Head over to Poppytalk where you’ll find a delicious recipe for Salsa & Black Bean Tortilla Soup. Perfect for warming up the endless January chill.

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34 comments to “january citrus break: lime tart”

  1. 1
    Julie   January 11, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Oooooh so divine!! I love lime.. we’re hooked on the key lime pie at SoBo out in Tofino! Love the idea of rum whipping cream. I’m making this soon!! Thanks for sharing!

  2. 2
    Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe   January 11, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    This looks wonderful. It doesn’t hurt that I have a serious crush on citrus desserts!

  3. 3
    Kate   January 11, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Now that I’ve overcome my shyness regarding key lime pie, I’ll have to give your recipe a whirl. I like that it doesn’t require the fussy step of separating the eggs. Happy New Year!

    Kate C

  4. 4
    Kate   January 11, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Also, your pictures of the juiced lime halves are so fun!

  5. 5
    Jacqui   January 11, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more about citrus desserts being perfect this time of year! I recently made a lemon tart, but I’ll have to try a lime one next time!

  6. 6
    Lydia   January 11, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    Yum. We’re going to Florida next month, so I’m going to have some key lime pie there! Matt Bites just did a post all about citrus recipes and I wanted to make everything, so I am with you on the citrus train.

    I agree about letting the citrus come to room temperature, you gotta do that. I use a reamer from IKEA to get all the juice out. Also, you mentioned wasting egg whites- don’t you freeze them? I find freezing egg yolks never works, but whites freeze and thaw like a dream.

  7. 7
    Amy (Savory Moments)   January 11, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    I love citrus tarts. Yours looks delicious and lovely!

  8. 8
    Joanne (Bijoux)   January 11, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Great minds think alike. I have been craving a citrus-based dessert lately and was thinking to make some lemon curd tarts. This pie looks divine and I love the sound of the whipped cream, with or without the boozy essence. Sending happy belated birthday wishes to C!

  9. 9
    Molly   January 11, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    Something about the bright citrus in this post made the whole world seem more cheerful. It’s amazing how the universe just knows that the perfect balance to cold, snowy days, are sweet little balls of citrus sunshine.

    I honestly thought that lime tart was so much more complicated, but you make it look so easy!

  10. 10
    Kidnurse Cindy   January 12, 2012 at 1:18 am

    This sounds yummy. I live in Southern California and have good sources for local citrus. My probably dumb question- what is the difference between a pie pan and a tart pan?

  11. 11
    Joanne   January 12, 2012 at 3:23 am

    Maybe THAT’S why I’ve been so into citrusy desserts lately…kind of recovery dessert from the holidays. Hmm.

    I love lime-flavored anything and this tart looks fabulous!

    Happy birthday to Cornelius!

  12. 12
    Clare   January 12, 2012 at 3:26 am

    Citrus is definitely the way forward – sometimes it feels like I might have scurvy after the festive period and I could just eat raw lemons. Putting this on the make list for this month, or possibly my Dad’s birthday in Feb.

  13. 13
    SixBalloons   January 12, 2012 at 9:32 am

    You had me at Hello!

    I love the lemony/lime flavours and this recipe reminded me of your lemon meringue pie one. I am really tempted to make a batch of lemon meringue (maybe with some lime juice added in) and take the shortcut of spooning them into those frozen mini tarts.

  14. 14
    kickpleat   January 12, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Thanks Julie! I’m so going to have to try out those pies next summer!

    Amanda, I know that crush all too well.

    No fuss, no muss, Kate! Enjoy.

    Jacqui, lemon tarts are great, but I think I might like limes a little bit better. I may have to do a taste-off!

    Lydia, have a great trip! And enjoy the pie :) I tried a reamer at a friend’s place for the first time in December but I wasn’t a fan. I love my old-fashioned juicer (well, it’s from Nigella’s line) and it works really well and separates the pulp. And no, I’ve never frozen egg whites! I just would try to throw them into scrambled eggs….if I remembered! Thanks for the tip!

    Thanks Amy!

    I’ll pass along your wishes, Joanne! And go make some tarts :)

    Molly, I do hope you give this a try. It’s an easy recipe and perfect for this winter.

    Kidnurse Cindy, not dumb at all! You can make this in a regular pie pan, but I used a tart pan which has a removable bottom so that you can remove the tart from the pan once it’s cooled down. It all has to do with looks, so use whatever you’ve got.

    Thanks Joanne! I hope you’ve recovered!

    Haha, thanks Clare. Stave off that scurvy!!!

    SixBalloons, I’m all for shortcuts! Enjoy.

  15. 15
    Piper   January 12, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Limes, limes… I love limes! I am SO going to make this. I just made Maida Heatter’s Lemon Cake… isn’t it strange how happy citrus makes people? I’ve been thinking of making it with limes.

  16. 16
    NicoleD   January 13, 2012 at 11:43 am

    I would definitely be happy with this for my birthday and extra rummy whipped cream, YES!! Looks divine.

  17. 17
    Jen   January 14, 2012 at 7:01 am

    I made this for my husband’s birthday yesterday and it was perfect. Thanks Jeannette!

  18. 18
    Gretchen @ flowercityfoodie.com   January 14, 2012 at 7:37 am

    Thanks for the list of citrus desserts–they all sound lovely and perfect while I’m sitting indoors in the middle of a snowstorm. Here’s an idea thaat we use in our family for birthday candles: use one color for “tens” and another color for “ones.” So, 3 green candles plus 5 blue candles = 35, for example.

  19. 19
    silvia   January 14, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    I make a similar pie but add a tablespoon or two of tequila and call it a margarita pie.

    Yours looks fabulous and is making me a bit hungry.

  20. 20
    Dana   January 14, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    I always forget about lime pie. It’s such a refreshing dessert, especially after a heavy or heavily spiced meal, and I’m a total sucker for a graham cracker crust. Thanks for the reminder!

  21. 21
    kickpleat   January 14, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    PIper, I think citrus is a boost of sunshine & it totally helps make people happier, I think!

    Thank you, NicoleD! Love the rummy whipped :)

    Jen, so glad you both loved it!! Probably nice on a snowy day.

    Ha, snowstorm be damned! Love your candle tradition. I love it.

    Silvia, I love it! I’ll so be trying that out next time…maybe with a little salt too?

    Thanks Dana, that crust is a fave (& of course, the tart pan came from you – so thank you, especially!)

  22. 22
    Tommy   January 14, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    So many things I love about this: my birthday is also in early January so I totally understand the feeling of wanting to escape the holiday treats, i love limes and i’m already hoping winter zooms by myself. Really great stuff.

  23. 23
    Beth   January 15, 2012 at 2:58 am

    I make my key lime pie with regular limes too, and it’s one of my favorite desserts. I think you’ve inspired me to bake one today!

  24. 24
    Tahoe Treasure Chest   January 15, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Thanks for the great recipe, It’s a great change up from the same winter recipes year after year!

  25. 25
    achowlife   January 16, 2012 at 10:08 am

    My best to your husband! I know what its like to want to take a break from the heaviness of holidays. Both Maeve and Kirk have birthdays within a week of xmas. Eek! I love the idea of a citrus tart. It’s so clean and fresh. And, of course, you make it look amazingly delicious! Happy new year! xoxo

  26. 26
    Dramatic Pancake   January 19, 2012 at 9:44 am

    I love that you mix things up and celebrate with something other than the traditional birthday cake! And I agree, this tart is just the sort of refreshing, not-too-heavy dessert this time of year calls for. And really, how can you wrong with lime and rum?! Can’t.

  27. 27
    Ashley   January 19, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Cornelius is so lucky! Great discovery about how adding the egg whites worked out well. I always have trouble finding a good use for leftover egg yolks or whites.

  28. 28
    DessertForTwo   January 23, 2012 at 11:53 am

    I would eat this for my birthday in September! I love citrus :)

  29. 29
    kickpleat   January 27, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Aw thank you Tommy, and I hope you had a great January birthday too!

    I’m so glad, Beth!

    Thanks, Tahoe, it’s a great pie.

    Yikes, that’s a lot of birthdays and holidays in such a short span, achowlife! But citrus makes it all better, I’m sure :)

    Agreed, Dramatic Pancake! As for cakes vs pies, my husband always votes for pies.

    Me too, Ashley & this recipe solves the problem nicely :)

    Who wouldn’t, DfT :)

  30. 30
    Sandi   July 20, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    Hey there! I have been reading your blog for years, but don’t think I’ve ever commented. On Friday, I wanted to make a dessert, and thought for once I’d make something that was not a fruit crumble or CHOCOLATE. Lo and behold, I had everything to make this tart, and it was great! After putting it in the oven, I accidentally bumped the temperature dial back to 275, and didn’t realize until it had been in for about half an hour — I kept wondering why the filling was taking so long to set! Happily, the tart was none the worse for wear. Thanks for (another) great recipe!

  31. 31
    kickpleat   July 22, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Sandi, thanks for finally commenting :) Glad you loved this tart!

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