If you want to know the insider scoop on the perfect key lime pie, there’s probably nobody better to ask than the executive pastry chef for the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Florida. Chef Sebastien Thieffine talked to Food & Wine and shared his considerable expertise. Given the thousands of slices sold each week by the Ritz, Sebastien knows a thing or two.
One of Sebastien’s most interesting suggestions is to make the filling for the pie — which includes only egg yolks, key lime juice (he uses Nellie & Joe’s), and sweetened condensed milk — the day before you bake it. It’s critical not to incorporate too much air into the mixture, and letting that filling settle for at least 3-4 hours will ensure all the air works its way out, leaving the dense, silky, and rich texture you’re going for. While there are plenty of no-bake recipes for key lime pie, like The Pioneer Woman’s, which combines cream cheese, lime juice, and sweetened condensed milk for a filling that sets in the refrigerator, Sebastien takes a different tack, baking his completely smooth filling for about an hour at 200 degrees F. The result is a luscious, creamy perfection, whether you bake one single large pie or divvy it up into individual jars for a cute, sweet treat.