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Recipe: key lime pie ice cream

It’s snowing outside the house right now! In fact, there are a few storm tracks marching through to see the month of February out. I’ve been busting ass to get work done these past several non-snowy days so I can be ready if Ullr should bless our mountains with the pow pow. The weather dictates my work schedule (well, the weather and paying clients). Kaweah has been by my side the whole time. If I’m in the kitchen, she is a low and furry center island in the middle of the kitchen. If I’m shooting in the studio, she’s under the table, nearby, or walking in and out of the room onto the deck. If I’m in the office, she likes to curl up on a stack of her three dog beds. Don’t ask how we figured that one out.

she loves it

Tuesday morning, we spent a little time cuddling with Kaweah on our bed. She likes to be squashed between the two of us and lately we’ve been exchanging a few minutes of extra sleep for a few minutes of QT with the pup before we start our day. It was that Tuesday morning when we realized that she is going deaf. We did a lot of tests like calling “treat!” from around the corner only to have her come when it reached a certain volume. I had a good cry over that, but Kaweah has been spunky, happy, affectionate, and sweet. It doesn’t seem to faze her at all and her vision and especially her sense of smell are excellent. Most of our voice commands have been accompanied by hand signals, so the communication is fine as long as she can see us and as long as she feels like obeying.

pork adobado wet burrito at pica’s

So I had a business lunch meeting with Helliemae’s at Pica’s in Boulder earlier this week. There was a natural pause in the conversation after discussing business plans, business solutions, and flavors. My mind wandered to the next kitchen project I had in the queue. “You wanna know what I’m blogging next?” I asked Ellen. Her eyes got that Texan sparkle and the edges of her mouth curled up. “Yes,” she said leaning in, “tell me.” “Key lime pie ice cream.”

here’s what a bag of key limes looks like sans bag

Oh yes I did. I walked past the bagged Key limes in the grocery store a few weeks ago and all I could think about was key lime pie. Key lime pie. I’ve always made Key lime pie with regular limes – hence it was regular lime pie. When I finally got my grubby paws on Key limes, I didn’t feel like making a pie. I felt like making ice cream. Pie-ce cream?

key limes, sugar, eggs, salt, cream, milk, graham crackers

zest some limes

juice a dozen or so to get a half cup

mix the sugar, salt, juice, and zest together

Key limes are tiny little guys. When I ran them through my automatic juicer, I had to hold each half down with two thumbs and two index fingers so they wouldn’t spin away under my palm. Key limes will vary in size, but if you plan to do this, get at least a dozen. Of course, it’s perfectly fine to use regular limes. I’m guessing four average-sized limes would suffice.

temper the egg yolks with hot milk

whisk over medium heat until the custard thickens

strain the custard

When the custard is done, cool it down either in an ice bath or in the refrigerator. Once everything is completely chilled, mix it all together. I know that most think of “green” when they think of Key lime pie, but that requires artificial coloring. Feel free to add a few drops of green food coloring if that’s your aesthetic goal. I prefer to let mine be its natural pale yellow. Also, the organic cane sugar that I use is a slightly golden color. Yellow it is!

pouring the custard into the sugar-lime mixture

stirring in the whipping cream

Run the custard through your ice cream maker until it reaches soft-serve consistency. My ice cream canister was nearly overflowing when the ice cream was done (water expands when it becomes ice on the Earth’s surface – see phase diagram of water). I scooped it all out into a large bowl and mixed in the crushed graham crackers. You might be tempted to mix in graham cracker crumbs, but I think that the texture is too fine and sandy. My aim was for chunks of graham cracker to simulate the pie crust. When it’s mixed in, place it in the freezer to firm up.


mix in the graham crackers

It tastes like frozen key lime pie! Of course, the very nature of ice cream makes it more creamy than tart, but this flavor has a decent amount of tartness to it and the zest accentuates the lime. It’s nice and fruity! I like the crunch of the graham cracker bits, so I highly recommend not pulverizing the crackers too enthusiastically. The only thing left is a dollop of whipped cream (which I like on a slice of key lime pie). I realize there is an entire pint of whipping cream in the ice cream, but a little whipped cream for garnish cinches the deal.

key lime piescream?

ice cream!!!

Key Lime Pie Ice Cream
[print recipe]
based on this lemon ice cream

1 tbsp key lime zest (about 4 key limes)
1/2 cup key lime juice (about 12 limes)
3/4 cups sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup milk
4 egg yolks
2 cups cream
1/2 cup graham crackers, crushed

Mix the zest, juice, sugar, and salt together in a bowl. Let sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Heat the milk until it is just boiling. Remove from heat. Whisk a quarter cup of the hot milk into the egg yolks (to temper the yolks). Whisk in a little more. Scrape the yolk-milk mixture back into the rest of the milk and whisk together. Place over medium heat and whisk constantly until the custard has thickened (should coat the back of a spoon). Place the custard on ice or in the refrigerator until it is chilled completely. Mix the sugar-lime mixture, the custard, and the cream together in a large bowl. Churn the ice cream in your ice cream maker according to the ice cream maker instructions. Stir the graham crackers into the soft ice cream. Freeze. Makes about 1.75 quarts.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

lime sorbet lime-raspberry petits fours lime cheesecake ginger limeade

33 nibbles at “piescream”

  1. Ainhoa says:

    This looks fantastic. I love the idea of mixing in graham crackers, thanks!

  2. Michael says:

    I have to recommend one of my favorite ice cream mix-ins: Graham Cracker Toffee. I found it at this website:

    It’s one of those recipes that you might refer to as “crack”, i.e. dangerously addictive. I normally stir graham cracker crumbs straight into the saucepan (instead of graham cracker pieces) and it turns out splendidly.

  3. pumpkin says:

    A tip I learned from the ‘net before recently zesting/juicing 25 key limes to make a pie…use a garlic press to squeeze the limes. Worked like a charm! =)

  4. debbie says:

    A great idea. I love key lime pie and can only imagine how great this must taste……

  5. Kristin says:

    Oh wow…will have to mark this one to make when my daughter is home from college. She looooooves limes. Kaweah’s hearing…sniff. It’s so hard that our pets age so much more quickly than we do. I guess the upside is that we get to love many more pets & give many more animals good home.

  6. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says:

    This sounds fabulous!!

  7. Cindi says:

    I crave ice cream year ’round and this has me almost licking my monitor… Oh yum!!

  8. megan says:

    this looks so good!!!! I will have to make this once I figure out why my ice cream freezer bowl (cuisinart) won’t freeze..

    (Has it ever taken over 24 hours for the bowl to freeze, for you? It used to freeze fine..)

    Kaweah is so adorable!! she doesn’t look her age ;)

  9. Eva @ Eva Bakes says:

    This looks phenomenal. I make ice cream year-round and love key lime flavored things. This is getting added to my list to make soon!

  10. Mari @ Once Upon a Plate says:

    7:09am on the west coast and you’ve got me craving Key Lime Piescream! Looks delicious . . .

  11. Abbe@This is How I Cook says:

    That’s funny because my daughter loves key lime pie! And she will be home next week for a few days. Maybe we will try this! Thanks for the great idea!

  12. jenjenk says:

    God love you, woman. I had a bag of key limes a few years ago and the thought of zesting & juicing those little suckers fell me before I could even get up to go.

    however, I will concede that this ice cream looks good enough to try it again…

  13. Melissa says:

    You can’t have too much whipped cream. Especially not with lime. Love this so much. Come make me some. ;)

    I’m sorry about your dear old girl’s ears. At least she seems to be taking it in stride. ♥

  14. amanda says:

    OT: but I have been thinking of you as I watch these storms roll through Colorado and leave DC just cold a wet. I hope you get out in the snow and make some track for those of us who are stuck with mid-atlantic mud.

  15. John says:

    I had a cat who lived to be 18 and a half years old. Somewhere along the line, as he aged, he lost his hearing. I did not realize it until the last year or so. Affected him not one bit, because as you noted, other senses compensated. Like him, Kaweah will feel your love, whether she can hear it or not. Senior pets are rare and to be treasured.

  16. Bernadette @ Now Stir It Up says:

    Piescream. LOVE IT. I think there should be an entire cookbook devoted to this. I will have to make this ASAP and eat it… probably by myself.

    I have to say that Kaweah is adorable. I love your blog for the amazing food/adorable pup pictures.

  17. Jaclyn says:

    I absolutely love your site. Everything you makes looks amazing! I’ve loved following along – thanks for creating such an awesome blog!

  18. Loretta says:

    This looks incredible! I love homemade ice cream with custard…

  19. hungry dog says:

    Sorry to hear about Kaweah’s going deaf, although having had our last dog go deaf (a chocolate lab) I’m not sure it was particularly traumatic for her. I think it’s harder for the people! By the way, have looked at your blog on and off for a long time, I really enjoy it. And recently I started making those pumpkin/pb dog cookies–just posted about them on my own blog! So, thanks for posting. Big pats to your girl!

  20. Phoebe says:

    So I have a story about the time I made key lime pie ice cream (actually just lime pie ice cream but anyway). I spent a Sunday morning in July a couple years ago mixing up a batch, and then while the ice cream hardened a bit in the freezer I decided to go for a swim. I was in the sun for less than an hour. The next day I had itchy, red, raised patches on my hands. Turns out the oils found in lime peel plus sun can equal an allergic reaction in some people*. Also, for the graham cracker crust part I crushed the crackers, added a bit of melted butter and sugar to form a crumbly dough, smushed it flat and baked for 10 min in my toaster oven. Then broke it up and added to the ice cream. I liked the extra crunch :)


  21. Rocky Mountain Woman says:

    that looks perfect! it’s snowing here also, it’s supposed to be a really snowy weekend (come on Spring!)

    my sweet old boy was deaf for years but it never stopped him from enjoying life! he also eventually went blind, but as long as I didn’t move anything around the house, he was just fine…

    great photos…

  22. jill says:

    Oh mannnn, my tastebuds are in overdrive looking at this! yum….

    I think you said it all when you said….but Kaweah has been spunky, happy, affectionate, and sweet. Isn’t that what matters? Cuddle a lot!

    xo, j

  23. jenyu says:

    Michael – wow, that pretty much sounds like crack.

    pumpkin – ah well, I don’t have a garlic press ;)

    Kristin – it is hard, I think in part because Kaweah is my first dog. But she’s a good sport and happy and comfortable. I can’t really ask for more xo

    Cindi – ;)

    megan – Oh, that doesn’t sound good. Perhaps it might be time to get a replacement bowl? I wonder if the liquid inside can go bad/lose its freezing capacity?

    Abbe – I hope she likes it!

    jenjenk – hee hee ;)

    Melissa – it’s like the perfect combo, no? Kaweah is fine. She’s a trooper ;)

    amanda – we’re doing our best!

    John – <3

    Bernadette - I know someone has got to have either done it or must be doing it now. Let's hope!

    Jaclyn - thank you.

    hungry dog - thanks!

    Phoebe - wow, that's crazy! I'll keep it in mind if I ever mix citrus oils and sun :)

    Rocky Mountain Woman - we're just trying to enjoy the pup and make sure she's having a good day, each day :)

    Jill - xxoo

  24. Annie says:

    That looks amazing
    I will try it sometime when it gets warmer here!

  25. Rachel says:

    Just discovered your blog….love it! This ice cream looks amazing….I need to go get anime cream maker now! ;) love your dog, so cute! How old is she? Our black lab is nearly deaf too, but she is no worse for the wear.

  26. jenyu says:

    Rachel – oh, she’s 14+ now :) Still a happy girl.

  27. Key Lime Pie Ice Cream | HUNGRY, MOSTLY says:

    […] Key Lime Pie Ice Cream (adapted from this blog) […]

  28. Key Lime Pie Ice Cream | Jack of all Trades says:

    […] of my recipes. Considering the hot weather we’ve been having down here in FL, Key Lime Pie Ice Cream seemed like a good choice. Fresh key lime zest and juice, a little graham cracker… […]

  29. Louise says:

    Did you use 1%, 2%, or whole milk?

  30. jenyu says:

    Louise – I only use whole milk.

  31. Kate says:

    My uncle adores key lime pie, and I’ve made him an assortment of desserts honoring these tiny key limes (which, by the way have a distinct and more mellow flavor than regular limes, and worth using them any time they’re in a recipe). So this Father’s Day, my uncle will get his own container of this lovely, creamy ice cream. I made it last month for a friend, and she was speechless. I use a hand-held lemon squeezer, which works perfectly to get all the juice out of the key limes. Thank you for this delicious recipe.

  32. Ana says:

    Hi! i loved your recipe! What brand of icecream maker do you use? :) Thanks!

  33. jenyu says:

    Ana – I use a cuisinart ice cream machine.

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