There are few desserts that speak to summer as strongly as Key Lime Pie. The light refreshing citrus blend is the perfect end to summer barbeques. Traditional recipes call for sour cream and condensed milk, two big no-nos for anyone trying to avoid dairy. In my search for making dairy and gluten free sweets, I’ve experimented quite a bit, and this one was a hit.
The secret here lies in Haupia; a coconut based Hawaiian dessert often served at luaus. It is incredibly easy to make and creates an excellent base for Key Lime Pie (and other pie fillings as well). To make Haupia, start with two 14-ounce cans of coconut milk. I opted for 365 Organic Light Coconut Milk from Whole Foods, which saves about 80 calories per quarter of a cup. Combine 3 cups of coconut milk with 2/3 cup of sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Drizzle 12 tablespoons of cornstarch into the mixture and whisk continuously until the mix is thick. Add ¼ teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Be careful not to burn bottom layers closest to heat. Cook until very thick and remove from heat.
Once off the stove, I chilled the Haupia for about an hour before adding a ½ cup of fresh lime juice. Small, tart Key Limes are very hard to find in New York and often come at a high price. Fresh squeezed limes are a better alternative to bottled lime juice, offering a bit more tartness. Mix lime juice into Haupia mixture and allow to chill.
There are several options for a crust. Traditional Key Lime Pie recipes often use variations of graham cracker crusts. To eliminate gluten and dairy, finely chop 2 cups of raw, unsalted almonds, a tablespoon of coconut milk, and half a teaspoon of dried ginger. Bake for about 15 minutes on 325 until the edges are brown and crisp. Once the pie shell is cool, pour Haupia mix onto the nut crust and spread evenly. For an extra topping and edible flair, try browning coconut flakes and sprinkling over the top.
For best results, cool the entire pie overnight. The extra time to chill makes it easier to cut and serve.
Not in the mood for Key Lime Pie? The mild coconut flavor of Haupia creates a great base for other pies as well. Try adding half a cup of cocoa for a chocolate pie, or half a cup of lemon juice for a twist on .