Posted by: njbrown | October 26, 2009

Lovely “Key lime” pots de creme

October 26, 2009

A number of years ago, our family spent a week in the Florida Keys.  Having always loved Key lime pie, I decided to use the opportunity to find the very best Key lime dessert.  For seven days at lunch, at dinner and for snacks, I had Key lime pie, tarts, cookies and cake.

Unfortunately, once back in Ontario, real Key limes and Key lime juice weren’t available.  Although our produce store sold what they called Key limes, they bore only the faintest resemblance to what I’d eaten in Florida, and the juice was almost impossible to extract.  Outside of Florida, the best Key lime pie I had found to date was – surprisingly – the one served at Red Lobster restaurants, but they guard that recipe more closely than the nuclear code.  Many searches on the Web yielded numerous recipes for Key lime pie, but none was just right.  My perfect Key lime pie is more tart than sweet, and you would think that any dessert that has only 3 ingredients (4 if you count zest) wouldn’t have many different recipes.  However, Ina’s was different from Emeril’s that was different from Paula’s, and there were a number of other variations.  Finally, I homed in on one that calls for the highest ratio of lime juice to sweetened condensed milk, and includes zest.  Because I’ve never been enthusiastic about graham cracker crust, I made mine as pots de creme.   I think this recipe is superior to Red Lobster’s.  It is even better eaten the day after it is made.  The zest makes little explosions of lime flavor in your mouth – really delightful.

Key Lime Pots de Creme – adapted from recipe by Barbara Bowman

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2/3 c. lime juice – ideally real Key lime juice
  • Grated zest of one regular lime (or approximately 2 Key limes)
  • Whipping cream (sweetened with sugar and vanilla to taste) and sprigs of mint for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Beat egg yolks with electric mixer until they are thick and turn to light yellow.
  3. With mixer off, add condensed milk, and at low speed, mix in half of lime juice.  After the juice is mixed in, add the other half and continue until thoroughly mixed.
  4. Turn off mixer, and add zest and mix in by hand.
  5. Pour into six 1/2 c. pots de creme or ramekins in a deep baking dish.
  6. Pour hot tap water into the baking dish up to 1/2 inch of top of pots, being careful not to get any water into the pots.
  7. Cover dish with foil, and put baking dish into oven.
  8. Bake until the custards are just set – about 15 minutes.
  9. Remove baking dish from oven, and remove pots.  Let cool, and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set – at least 3 hours.
  10. To serve, garnish with a rosette of sweetened whipped cream and a sprig of mint.

I hope you enjoy them as much as we have.



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