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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Key Lime Pie Cupcakes - Two ways!

Yum.  Yum yum yum.  Yum.

Key Lime Pie has been a favorite in this household since before I was born.  Its my mom's FAVORITE dessert, its been one of my FAVORITE desserts, its my Mother in Law's FAVORITE dessert and wouldn't you know it, after having my key lime pie, it soon became my Sister In Law's FAVORITE dessert.

Needless to say, we have a great tried and true recipe that has been copied down, traded hands, and shared so many times I've lost count!  After our success with cheesecake cupcakes last week I just had to try my hand at making my famous (at least around these parts) key lime pie in cupcake form.  Just in case though, I tried out a new recipe as well which I hoped would hold the cupcake shape a little better in case mine didn't. They both turned out really well but very differently to suit two different palates.

I'll tell you more about each recipe at the end when I share them both, and I'll give you tips on how I made the cupcakes but what steps you could cut out if you're pressed for time, but first some pictures to show you how it all went down:




 J'aimes Key Lime Pie Cupcakes

Source: Recipe 1 is my tried and true recipe, its been with me for at least 10 years but I think it started from the back of a can of Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk.  Recipe 2 is the recipe you will currently find on the back of Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk.
Serves: Exactly 12 cupcakes
Prep Time: 15 Min - 45 Min depending
Cook time: 30 Min
Chill Time: Overnight

Ingredients for Crust:

2 Cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
4 Tbsp Melted Butter (salted)
2 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Lime Zest (optional)

Ingredients for Whipped Cream Topping:

4 Ounces Cream Cheese (room temp - IMPORTANT)
1 Cup Whipping Cream (chilled)
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
3 Ounces Sour Cream (room temp - IMPORTANT)
2 tbsp lime zest (optional)

Ingredients for Filling (recipe 1) 

 3 egg yolks
1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 tbsp lime zest
3 ounces sour cream
2/3 cup lime juice

Ingredients for Filling (recipe 2)

2 cans sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup lime juice
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tbsp lime zest

Total limes for any recipe?  About 7 medium Persian limes. 8 if you want to use some for garnish.

Tips and Tricks

(1) Recipe 1 vs Recipe 2:

Recipe 1 makes a terrific full sized pie, its my absolute favorite.  Its a bit more tart and a little less firm.  This makes it a little harder to make into a cupcake because a cupcake doesn't hold as much whipped cream topping as a traditional pie does so there isn't as much sweet cream to cut the tartness.  Its also a little less first so it absolutely must be refrigerated for at least 4 hours prior to serving unless you want your guests to eat it with a spork. That said, if you have the time to properly chill it, this was my focus group's (i.e. my family) favorite cupcake, they preferred the flavor to recipe 2.

Recipe 2 is a bit sweeter, my taste testers preferred the flavor of recipe 1 but we all like sour things so that might be a bit skewed.  Recipe 2 will suit people that prefer sweeter things, it also holds its shape more readily and can be eaten after only an hour or two of refrigeration although it does benefit from being chilled overnight.

Bake times on both recipes are about the same.

(2) Where to cut corners:

You can easily sub store bought whipped cream for my whipped topping, just top it with a bit of lime zest and none will be the wiser.

You can generally skip the lime zest all together if you hate zesting, it ties the flavors together and gives a more prominent flavor but its not required by any means.

Any brand of limes will do, I've used key limes, Persian limes and Chilean limes without noticing much difference.

I would NOT recommend using bottled lime juice.  I've tried a variety of them including many highly recommended brands, while they will do in a pinch and will certainly yield a pie or a cupcake worthy of eating, I find the flavor to be too tart and to scream "shelf stable."  If you don't believe me, grab a lime when you buy your lime juice, juice the lime and compare the flavors.  You will find the bottled lime juice to be much darker and yellower in color (reminiscent of an old or rotten lime) it will be much stronger in flavor but also taste "less fresh" similar to the difference between fresh squeezed orange juice and bottled stuff.  The flavor is still there but in a dessert featuring limes, I think the real stuff needs to be used.


  1. Turn on oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. Juice and zest all 7 limes or until you get 2/3 cup of juice.  
  3. Combine graham cracker ingredients in a bowl and mix with fingers or fork until crumbly and well combine.
  4. Divide equally into 12 muffin cups, lined with muffin liners.
  5. Tamp down with a muddler, your fingers, or the back of a spoon.
  6. Bake for 7 minutes.
  7. Mix filling ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment.  Mix on medium high until well combined, mix an additional 4 minutes to add some air to mixture. 
  8. Once crusts are done, remove from oven and fill with filling. Return tray to oven for 25 - 30 minutes or until mixture begins to bubble and is clearly set.  You'd rather overcook than under cook here, the condensed milk will keep your cupcakes from getting too dry from overcooking but under cooking will result in a mushy cupcake that won't tolerate being unwrapped and eaten without falling apart. 
  9. Cool cupcakes on wire rack then chill overnight or at least 2 hrs for recipe 2, and 4 hrs for recipe 1.  Do not make the topping ahead of time, it doesn't store well. 
  10. Fit an electric mixer with a whisk, add room temp cream cheese and sour cream, whisk for 5 minutes or until fluffy, smooth, and consistent in texture.  If the cream cheese does not completely break down it will not smoothly incorporate into your whipping cream leaving unpleasant lumps. 
  11. Once cream cheese is smooth and fluffy, add all other ingredients, whip until stiff peaks form.  
  12. Transfer into piping bag and pipe onto cupcakes.
  13. Enjoy!

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