This recipe was born out of my love for Key lime pie but over the years has transitioned into something else entirely due to my love for Southwest textures and flavors. When I have freshly milled Tamaya blue corn flour in the fridge and two shrubs bursting with purple blooms, I am unable to resist the urge to find a place for their practical use and extraordinary beauty, even in unexpected ways.
If you love Key lime pie, I think you will also love this version. The biggest way I venture out from the traditional method is by baking the pie in the oven to set the filling. It has long been understood that the acid from the limes is strong enough to technically cook the egg yolks, so normally the pie is filled and refrigerated. Because the quality of widely available egg yolks varies, however, I prefer to bake the pie for a short time, which I find creates both a structured and silky texture.
Now it’s time to talk about the crust, which I believe takes this pie to the next level. The first step, which can be done days ahead of time, is to make the blue corn crisps. These cookies stay delicious and crisp for up to a week, and this is what we use instead of graham crackers to make the crust. The recipe below is for about double the cookies you will need for the pie because it just seems a little cruel to only make enough cookies for crushing, especially if there are little eyes and little mouths watching and waiting for cookies to come out of the oven.
The whipped topping adds a creamy, dreamy lightness to the rich lime filling, and the lavender plays off the blue corn in such a way where it feels like together they create a new take on an old favorite that somehow tastes like home.
Lime pie with blue corn and lavender
Makes: 10-12 servings;
total time: 5 hours
For the blue corn crisps:
1 cup sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1½ cup all purpose flour
1½ cup blue cornmeal
2 teaspoons dried ground ginger
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
For the filling:
6 large egg yolks
2 (14 oz) cans of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
For the topping:
1½ cups heavy cream
zest of 1 lime
1 teaspoons ground culinary lavender
2 tablespoons honey
For the crust:
1½ cups crushed blue corn crisps
4 tablespoons melted butter
Preparation: Start by making the cookies. Preheat the oven to 350. Line two sheet trays with parchment paper or a nonstick Silpat liner. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, butter and egg until light and creamy. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, ginger, salt and baking powder. Add the dry mixture into the butter mixture. It will resemble wet sand. Lay out a large piece of plastic wrap and place half of the cookie dough in a log shape across the piece of plastic wrap. Roll tightly into a log. Repeat with the remaining dough, making another log, and put both in the fridge for 45 minutes. Remove the logs of dough from the plastic wrap and slice in ¼-inch rounds. Place 2 inches apart on sheet trays and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
Make the filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk and lime juice. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Make the topping: Whisk together the heavy cream until it forms peaks that still look silky and not overly stiff. Whisk in the lime zest, lavender and honey. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Make the crust: With oven preheated to 350, mix together the crushed blue corn crisps and melted butter. Press mixture in the bottom and up the sides of a pie dish or a tart shell. Bake for 10 minutes.
Make the pie: Pour the lime filling into the baked crust and carefully transfer back into the oven for 20 minutes. Let pie cool to room temperature before transferring the fridge for 3 hours.
To serve: Spread the whipped cream topping over the pie before slicing and serving.