One of the most popular desserts enjoyed by people who visit the coastal regions of the USA has to be the key lime pie. The lightly sweet graham cracker crust is filled with a custard made from those refreshingly tart, thin skinned key limes, egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk. The pie is easy to make if you have a reliable recipe and know the basic principles on how to put it together — it comes out perfect each and every time, and is always a crowd pleaser.
Most of the time, you will find the pie served with either meringue or freshly whipped cream…but what if you chose to turn things around and add another popular ingredient?
You must be thinking that I just may have lost my mind – but give me a minute of your time, and hear me out — you’ll be glad you did….
In the early 1990’s I owned a bakery called Premier Pastries. The hardest part of owning the company was keeping our dessert menu interesting by adding new items every six months or so.
My sales rep’s job was not only to sell our products, but to also bring back interesting samples of desserts she would come across to inspire us into creating new items for our new dessert menus.
One day after her sales calls, she showed up with a piece of pie that consisted of a lime green filling in a chocolate crust. We all thought it was mint, but she clarified that it was indeed lime. Everyone there that day looked around questionably at each other, and you could just about hear the comments that were racing through their minds. I can safely say that we were all thinking, this definitely does NOT look like something that is going to taste good…Really? lime and chocolate?
We grabbed our forks and plowed into the pie. For a moment it was silent, as our brain connected with our taste buds. Our grimacing expressions soon turned to agreeable nods as we savored this interesting new flavor.
We all decided that lime and chocolate made for a damn good flavor combination — what a surprise that was. The question remained, how were we going to incorporate it all together to make it look and taste good?
A short time afterwards, a local caterer called to ask us about some desserts she needed for an upcoming event. She was serving a Chesapeake Bay themed menu, and wanted something traditional but with a bit of a twist.
Enter my idea for a Dirty Key Lime Pie…
The idea was to swirl some dark chocolate into our delicious key lime pie filling then switch out the graham cracker crust with a chocolate wafer crust. The simple and delicious flavor combination was going to be everything she was looking for. We scored big points with this dessert, and people still ask me about it today.
This simple but delicious twist on a traditional and very beloved dessert, elevates it to another level. I will tell you that it very nearly, brings grown people to tears each and every time I serve it.
Dirty Key Lime Pie (makes 1-10”pie)
1 recipe traditional key lime pie
2-3 tablespoons dark chocolate, melted
For chocolate crust
1 stick butter, melted
2-3 cups chocolate hydrox wafers or oreo cookies with cream removed
OR you can use 16 chocolate graham crackers
NOTE: If you would prefer to use what you already have, you can use regular graham cracker crumbs with 3 level tablespoons of cocoa powder plus 2 level tablespoons of granulated sugar mixed together with the melted butter. You will get something very close to a chocolate graham cracker crust.
For the dirty key lime pie, I prefer to use the chocolate Hydrox cookie wafers or oreo cookie wafers for a more intense chocolate flavor. My last choice is using chocolate graham crackers if you can’t find the others. When I made it this time around, I did not have any hydrox cookies or oreos, so I chose to use what I had — which was plain graham wafers. I ground up 16 plain wafers into crumbs then added the melted butter, 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder and 2 tablespoons of sugar. This works fine in a pinch…
Prepare the pie crust as you would the traditional key lime pie…click on the key lime pie link above for step by step details…
While the crust is cooling, prepare the key lime pie filling the same way…
Look at all of that beautiful key lime zest…
Once the filling has been made, melt the 3 tablespoons of dark chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, and once it is melted and smooth, combine it with 6 tablespoons of the prepared key lime filling and set aside.
First, pour the plain filling into the cooled crust and then spoon on the chocolate key lime all over the top of the pie. Use a knife to swirl in the chocolate filling, but do not over mix this or it will look muddy and not swirled…
Bake this for about 15 minutes in a pre-heated 350 degree F oven until the filling is completely set. Make sure that the center is as firm as the edges, because the filling will cook from the outside in. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
I do not like to cover this pie on top completely with meringue or whipped cream, because the swirl design is so pretty (if done well) and can serve as part of the decoration. Use a hot knife (knife dipped in hot water and wiped each time you slice) for clean, beautiful slices of the pie. Serve this simply with a dollop of whipped cream.