Simple Simon’s Keylime Pie

Keylime Pie Tartlette with Mango Sorbet

& Salty Coconut Caramel

Every so often my wife brings a friend home from work for dinner. She asks if I’ll cook and tells me not to go overboard. “Keep it simple,” she says. Fair enough. But anybody who knows me, my wife included, knows I don’t just throw something, anything together and that’s that. I like to think through a menu, starting with the cuisine. Then I break it down to courses: appetizer, main, and dessert most commonly. Very seldom do I ever prepare more than three courses, and in many cases I’ll combine the appetizer and main by spreading a variety of different dishes out on the table so everyone can casually help themselves.

This week the cuisine of request was Thai food. Little did I know, my wife’s friend had been to Thailand. I, on the other hand, have not. My knowledge of Thai food only goes as deep as the books I’ve read, the television programs I’ve seen, or the handful of “authentic” restaurants I’ve dined in. This becomes a little stressful when I know my guests will be sizing up my culinary skills to their previous experiences. But as always, I figure even if it’s not absolutely authentic, then at least I can make it tastes good.

On the menu was Chicken Pad Thai, Crispy Prawn Springrolls with a dipping sauce, and a Mushroom and Lemongrass Coconut Soup. So far, so good. I hadn’t gone overboard, and I think I kept it quite simple. But then came dessert. Because of that perfect balance of flavors in Thai food, sweet, sour, salty, and spicy, very seldom is dessert ever required or expected. I however wanted to come up with a dessert that fit the same taste profile, minus the spicy. So I came up with a lime tart that would lend itself to sour, a mango ice cream for sweet, and a salty caramel for, yep you guessed it, salty. In hindsight, I think chili peppers would’ve worked really well in the ice cream.

Dinner was a success! Our guest confirmed it was right on spot with authentic Thai, and in some cases, better than what she had eaten in Thailand. I don’t need to tell you I was elated and relieved. In this post, I’d like to share with you my dessert. Though it isn’t technically authentic on account of excessive dairy use, it does go very well with Thai food.

Looks can be deceiving. This rather elegant looking dessert is pretty basic. Anyone with just a tiny amount of baking experience can pull this dish off without breaking a sweat. The only tricky element will be the caramel, as it is for most people. Cooked too little and it’s just sweet, cooked too much, it tastes burnt. It’s all about finding that perfect color, and as with anything else, it just takes some practice to get perfect. But don’t let that stop you from giving it a try, it’s well worth the effort.

Keylime Tartelette

  • Servings: 12 Tartlettes
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Print

For the Crust:

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp white sugar

For the Keylime Filling:

  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 4 limes, juiced
  • 1 tbsp lime zest
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

Prepare the crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. Line muffin tray of 12 with liners.
  3. Combine graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar.
  4. Drop roughly 1 tbsp of crumb mixture into each muffin liner and press firmly.
  5. Bake to 7-8 minutes.
  6. Let cool.

Prepare the Keylime Filling:

  1. Turn over down to 180°C.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the condensed milk, lime juice and zest, egg yolks, and basil.
  3. Pour into muffin tray with prepared crusts.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Let completely cool before storing them in the refrigerator.

Mango Sorbet

  • Servings: Makes about 1 Liter
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Print

  • 2 cups cream, around 20% fat
  • 2 large mangos, very ripe
  • ½ cup light syrup, corn syrup or honey
  • 1/8 tsp xanthan gum + 1 tsp oil to dissolve powder, optional step
  1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients and puree on high speed until there is no lumps from the mango.
  2. Pour through a sieve and discard any fibrous bits.
  3. Cool mixture in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Prepare ice cream according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Salty Coconut Caramel

  • Servings: Makes almost 2 Cups
  • Difficulty: Somewhat Advanced
  • Print

  • 1 cup fine white sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 50g butter
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup of dry shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  1. In a saucepan, add sugar and water. Turn on stove to medium-high heat and cover for 3 minutes. Do not stir, do not remove cover.
  2. After 3 minutes, remove the cover and let the sugar boil. Keep a close eye on it as it begins to darken. First it will go from clear to a pale yellow, then darken to an amber color.
  3. When it reaches a dark amber color and at the first sign of smoke, quickly remove from heat and whisk in the butter, cream, and salt. Continue whisking for a minute.
  4. Add the coconut, and continue stirring.
  5. Taste for saltiness. 1 tsp should be enough, but if you like it really salty then add more before it cools down.
  6. Store in fridge after it completely cools.


  1. On a dessert plate, spoon caramel in the center of the plate. You may have to soften the caramel in the microwave for 30 seconds, or remove from fridge an hour before using.
  2. Place a tart in the center of the caramel.
  3. Quenelle a spoonful of ice cream, and set on top of the tart.
  4. Sprinkle with chopped mint or basil for freshness.

And there you have it. A very simple, yet elegant dessert that can be prepared the day before.


key lime tart3

14 thoughts on “Simple Simon’s Keylime Pie

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