Key Lime Custard

4 Servings
25 min

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Key Lime Custard is the tart, creamy, and sweet, end-of-summer dessert that’s perfect for an ‘End-Of-Summer’ barbecue. This dessert uses ingredients you probably already have on hand, looks impressive, and is ready in less than thirty minutes.

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Make this a cool and creamy finish to a Floribbean-style barbecue to wrap up summer. Grilled Chili Lime Shrimp, Sweet Corn Fritters, Tropical Slaw With Pineapple, Southern Potato Salad, and Southern Hushpuppies make up a delicious menu that’s full of flavor.

What are Key Limes and How Do They Differ from Persian Limes

Key limes are a small, thin-skinned, citrus hybrid that’s native to Southeast Asia. It’s also referred to as a Florida key lime, West Indies lime, Mexican lime, or bartender’s lime. They’re no longer grown in the Florida Keys. The key lime crop was decimated by a hurricane in the 1920s. Farmer replaced the key lime with the heartier Persian lime. But what’s the difference between the two types of limes?

  • Key limes have more seeds and are more aromatic than Persian limes.
  • Key limes have a thin, bright green rind that becomes more yellow as it ripens.
  • Key limes are less acidic and tart than their Persian cousin. It has a floral aroma and the juice of the key lime tastes more bitter than the Persian lime.
  • Because of its smaller size, you’ll need almost double the number of key limes to yield the same amount of juice as a Persian lime.

How Many Limes Are Needed For ½ cup of juice?

The number of limes needed will vary on the type of lime, the freshness of the lime (fresher limes will produce more juice), and the method of extraction.

For my comparison, I used roughly a pound of each lime (Persian and Key) and a citrus reamer to extract the juice.

So, for ½ cup of juice, you will need about 12 Key limes versus 6 medium Persian limes.

Also, did you know that buying limes that feel heavier will produce more juice, and microwaving the lime for about 7-10 seconds will also produce more juice?

What About Bottled Lime Juice?

If you read this blog, you know that I believe that fresher is always better. Using fresh lime juice produces a more flavorful, fresher tasting final product. This is why a lot of recipes that call for lime, use the bigger Persian limes.

However, it takes a lot of energy and time to juice the number of key limes to get the amount of juice needed. It’s well worth the effort, but a lot of us don’t have the time to spare.

There are some good bottled key lime juice products out there. I like Nellie’s Key Lime Juice in a pinch and it can be found in almost any grocery store.

Ingredients Needed

  • Limes – Key lime or Persian.
  • Bottled Key lime juice – if you don’t want to squeeze the limes. You’ll still need at least a couple of key limes or 1 Persian lime for the zest.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Extra large eggs
  • Butter – I like using salted butter, but if you are using sweet or unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt to the recipe to enhance the flavors of the custard.
  • Heavy whipping cream – there aren’t any substitutions here. You need to use full-fat, heavy whipping cream.
  • Vanilla
  • Powdered sugar

Steps To Make This Recipe

  1. Combine the lime zest, juice, sugar, and eggs in a saucepan.
  2. Stir in the butter and cook the custard until it begins to thicken.
  3. Remove from heat and allow it to cool.
  4. Push the custard through a fine mesh sieve to ensure that its silky smooth.
  5. Stir together the heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla.
  6. Whip the cream until stiff peaks form when the beaters are lifted out of the bowl.
  7. Fold the whipped cream into the lime custard.
  8. Cover and chill.
  9. Spoon into serving bowls and sprinkle a bit more lime zest on top.
Recipe details
  • 4  Servings
  • Prep time: 10 Minutes Cook time: 15 Minutes Total time: 25 min
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  • 1 tablespoon lime zest
  • 1 cup key lime juice
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 extra-large eggs, room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, very cold
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup powdered sugar

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stir together the lime zest, lime juice, sugar, and eggs until well combined.
Add the butter and bring the mixture up to a slow simmer, stirring constantly.
Once the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, remove the pot from the heat.
Place a fine mesh sieve over a medium size bowl.
Pour the lime mixture into the sieve and use a spoon to push the pudding through the sieve.
Place plastic wrap directly on the top of the pudding.
Place an additional piece of plastic wrap on top of the bowl and chill for at least 2 hours.
While the pudding chills, place the bowl of a stand mixer and the beaters into the freezer.
After the pudding chills, remove the chilled bowl and beaters from the freezer.
Add the cold cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar to the bowl.
Whip the cream mixture until stiff peaks form.
Carefully fold the cream into the lime pudding until completely combined and no streaks remain.
Spoon the pudding into small serving bowls. 
If desired, sprinkle additional lime zest on top of each bowl.
Serve cold
Eats By The Beach (Millie Brinkley)
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