Chocolate key lime pie

October 8, 2011 § 16 Comments

While looking through my cookbooks a few weeks ago, it occurred to me that I haven’t baked a pie in a really, really long time. I love pie, but for some reason got bogged down in baking cakes and cookies and forgot all about the joys of sweet filling nestled in a crumbly or flaky crust.

Admittedly I was drawn to this recipe for chocolate key lime pie because I adore citrus and, alright, because it’s a no-bake pie, I ended up making it now because I needed to use up some graham crackers thanks to having bought a box this summer for snacking. It turns out though that I really prefer graham crackers when combined with butter, chilled, and then piled high with a pretty swirl of tangy lime filling, which I made after stumbling across the recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, the trusty Nigella Kitchen.

Key lime pie might seem a strange recipe to get from a British author, seeing as it’s an American original, but the ever-reliable Nigella Lawson puts her own twist on our classic key lime pie by adding chocolate. It sounds a bit strange, but I promise the taste is heavenly, and apparently not as weird as I first thought on reading the title ages ago: the flavor combination is based on an English candy called Choco-limes, and who knows candy better than the Brits? The rich darkness of the bittersweet chocolate in the crust adds some depth and acts as a counterbalance to what could’ve been a cloyingly over-sweet fluffy lime filling, creating a slightly more sophisticated air. But don’t worry, it’s still just as easy to eat as the original.

The pie is also fantastically easy to assemble; clearing some room in the refrigerator to hold the pie while it chills is most of the work done. The funny thing is, since this pie is chilled and not baked, technically I still haven’t baked a pie in almost two years. Well, as Thanksgiving is coming upon us soon, I think I can remedy that problem with a few pies baked for practice beforehand. I’m sure you all won’t complain, unless you’re on Team Cake…and even then, after trying this pie, your loyalties may shift!

Chocolate key lime pie

Adapted from Nigella Kitchen

Serves eight to ten


  • Fifteen sheets graham crackers (about three cups crushed)
  • One tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Four tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, diced
  • 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • One fourteen-ounce can sweetened condensed milk, chilled at least a few hours or preferably overnight
  • Four limes, to get approximately two tablespoons finely grated zest and 3/4 cup lime juice (preferably key limes, see note)
  • One and 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • One square best-quality bittersweet chocolate (I used Scharffen Berger)

1. In a food processor, pulse together the graham crackers, cocoa powder, butter, and chocolate chips until fully blended and compactable if pressed. Transfer loose crumb base to a removable-bottom fluted tart pan that is approximately nine inches across and two inches deep. Press crumbs down into the bottom and up the edges of the tart pan. Chill the graham crust in the refrigerator.

2. While the graham crust is chilling, zest the limes into a small bowl, cover, refrigerate, and reserve. Squeeze the lime juice into a large mixing bowl and then pour in the condensed milk. Stir; the mixture may appear curdled briefly but it is fine.

3. Pour in the heavy cream and using a whisk or a handheld/standing mixer, whip to increase the volume and thickness. Remove the chilled pie base from the refrigerator and fill with the pie filling. Chill again to set the pie, at least four hours or ideally overnight, loosely tented with aluminum foil.

4. Dust the top of the pie with the lime zest, and then grate over the bittersweet chocolate. (If you like, you may unmold the pie before slicing and serving, but I was worried that my pie would crumble apart so I did not, I just sliced and served directly from the tart pan.) Serve immediately, ideally within a day or so of making it, though the pie will still taste as good, if not appear as attractive, over the course of the next few days.

Note: be sure to store any leftovers in the refrigerator as there is cream in the pie. Also, sometimes limes can be rather stingy in their juice production, so I recommend purchasing extra limes — the key limes I used were especially generous, but that seems to be unusual in my experience.


Lawson, Nigella. “Chocolate Key Lime Pie.” Nigella Kitchen. New York: Hyperion, 2010 (158-60).


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