I had my first taste of key lime pie when I was about two years old. Our family had moved to Pensacola, Florida for my dad's job and we quickly became acclimated to the sight, sounds, and flavors of the Gulf Coast, including this tropical dessert. Refreshingly tart and slightly sweet, with a cool dollop of whipped cream on top, this soon became my dessert of choice. Forget traditional birthday cakes, Elise was all about that key lime pie. While we only stayed in Pensacola for a short time, my love for this dessert has continued on today.
We set out to recreate a healthier, simpler, shortcut recipe that could live up to this classic dessert. We swapped out condensed milk for rich almond cheese and creamy avocado and replaced a traditional crust with nuts and naturally sweet dates. While the Compstons are not vegan or gluten-free, this recipe just happens to be 100% plant based and free of grains for those readers who are. That said, this recipe can be made with dairy and gluten-full ingredients for equally stellar results.
This recipe requires very few ingredients and can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. For best results we recommend planning several hours in advance as you will want to freeze (set) your tarts and then let them 'thaw' for a while in the fridge prior to serving. Of course, your tarts will be entirely edible when frozen, but nothing beats the creamy, dreamy final product when you have some time to spare. Trust us on this one.
So, are you ready to get started? 'Cause we are! First off, we need to prepare our pie 'crusts'. We found a 50/50 mixture of pecans and walnuts gave us just the right texture and flavor we were going for. Add nuts, dates, and a touch of salt to a food processor:
Pulse until mixture is even in size and well incorporated.
Slowly add small amounts of water and continue pulsing until you achieve a sticky, clumpy consistency.
Scoop mixture into mini muffin tins and press down firmly to create your crusts.
Don't be afraid to really smoosh these babies in there - it will make removing them much easier.
Next, it's on to our filling!
Add cream cheese, vanilla, key lime juice, and maple syrup a blender. Pro Tip: Use a lemon press to squeeze limes. You can probably fit up to 2 limes (4 halves) in at once which is a big time saver!
Blend away until smooth.
Add your avocado and blend again until completely smooth and creamy. The avocado helps give the filling its pretty green tint and light, fluffy texture. Yum!
Now, it's time to the our filling into our crusts. Place a generous spoonful onto each crust.
Time to pop these babies into the freezer to set! Give them 2-3 hours to firm up. Once set, remove from molds.
Now for the really hard part. Place them back into the fridge for several more hours to soften and thaw out. This is hard to do but soooo worth the wait.
Once thawed, you are ready to garnish and, our favorite part of course, EAT them!
8 oz. Kite Hill Almond Milk Cream Cheese or Regular Cream Cheese
1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
Juice of 8-12 small key limes*, approx. ¼ cup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ tbsp maple syrup or honey
1 cup raw, unsalted pecans
1 cup raw, unsalted walnuts
9 pitted dates
1-2 tbsp warm water
⅛ tsp salt
So Delicious CocoWhip! Topping
Key Lime Wedges, as garnish
*key limes can vary greatly in size. Start small and work your way up until you achieve the tartness you prefer
Add pecans, walnuts, and salt to a food processor. Pulse until well processed. Nuts should be broken down into even size. Add dates and pulse until well incorporated and mixture begins to clump. Add warm water, small amounts at a time and continue pulsing. Mixture should become more clumped together and sticky. Note: If mixture is too dry, crusts will crumble when removing pies. Be sure you add enough water to make a sticky mixture. Add mixture to mini muffin tins one tablespoon at a time. Using the back of the tablespoon, firmly press mixture into the mold to create an even 'crust' (should fill 24 mini muffin trays); set aside.
Add cream cheese, lime juice, vanilla, and syrup and blend until smooth. Next, add avocado and blend again until completely blended. Mixture should be creamy and free of lumps. Taste for tart/sweet balance and adjust as needed. Scoop filling onto pie 'crusts'. Place pies into the freezer for 2-3 hours to set.
Once pies are set, remove from trays and set onto a flat platter. If planning to serve on a later date, place back into the freezer. If serving same day, place into the fridge to allow your tarts to 'thaw' into their perfect pie texture; plan for a minimum of 3-5 more hours. Just prior to serving, top with whipped topping and garnish with wedges of key lime. Serve immediately.
Nutrition Facts - (makes 24 tarts)
Calories - 77 Fat - 4g Carbohydrates - 11g Protein - 1g Fiber - 1g