NUTS for pie

A few weeks ago my family came to town for a little visit. It was the first time since moving to Chicago that they came to town. I was so excited for them to see our new place and our new city.

Growing up, whenever guests would come to visit, my mom always made sure to have their favorite foods stocked in our pantry. It was her way of making people feel at home in our home. And while our apartment is way too small to host my 3 sisters and my parents for 3 nights, I wanted them to feel the same way at our place. To say I'm my mother's daughter would be the understatement of the year.

My dad goes CRAZY for macadamia nuts. My mom can never keep a can in our house without him finding and depleting her entire supply. She even hides the container deep in the pantry. It's like my dad has a super mac nut radar. One year my dad found the can and left an IOU note inside the empty canister. When my mom went to bake her fully-loaded cookies she was short 2 cups of nuts, left only with a cheeky note from my dad. He is a piece of work... and I love him for it!

I knew when my family came to visit that I wanted to make something special for him. I decided to combine 2 of my dad's favorite things and make him his dream dessert (more like what I imagined his dream dessert to be)! He has a weakness for key lime pie so I combined the custard of a key lime pie with a macadamia nut crust, HELLO!

The look on his face when he ate that dessert was priceless. THIS is why I love to cook. To bring smiles to peoples faces and joy to their bellies. I had such an amazing time while my family was in town. I wish they could have stayed longer! 

Key Lime Pie with Macadamia Nut Crust
from alton brown and cooking weekends
for the crust
1 ¼ c. toasted macadamia nuts
½ c. panko bread crumbs
¼ c. sugar
2 T. flour
¼ t. salt
4 T melted butter

for the filling
¾ c. key lime juice (about 10-12 limes)
1 T. lime zest (from 2 limes)
4 egg yolks
1 - 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

for the topping
1 c. whipping cream
2 T. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375º. For the crust, lightly toast your nuts in a pan on the stovetop or in an oven. Be careful not to burn your nuts! Set them aside and let them cool. Once cooled, place in a food processor and pulse until they're a fine powder. Add panko, sugar, flour, and salt - give it a few pulses until combined. Pour the melted butter over the mixture and dump in a pie dish (you can use a spring form or tart pan also). Press the mixture into an even layer that comes half way up the side of the dish.  Bake for 10 minutes. Note the crust won't be fully cooked, that's ok. It will finish cooking once you place the custard in it and bake it off!

While the tart is baking, you can assemble your filling. Squeeze juice from about 10 limes until you have ¾ c. of lime juice. In a medium bowl, whisk condensed milk and egg yolks together. Then add zest and lime juice. I like my filling really tart. If you like yours on the sweeter side you can use less lime juice. I find the zest adds a lot of flavor to the tart. If you don't like the consistency, you can definitely leave it out.

Pour the mixture into the baked crust and cook for an additional 15 minutes until the custard is set. It's done when the filling is firm but still jiggles. Let cool for an hour and then place in fridge for at least 4 hours (you want it to get cold... if it's cold enough for you after 1, 2... you get the idea). You can even make this the day before and add the whipped topping right before serving.

For the whipped topping, place heavy cream in a bowl and beat on high until soft peaks form. Add sugar and vanilla extract and continue whipping until firm peaks form. Place in a piping bag or ziplock bag with a hole cut in the corner and pipe onto the outer edge of the pie. You want to make sure your pie is all the way chilled or the whipped topping will just melt onto the tart. 

improv style:
the first place to change this recipe is the crust. you can do a traditional graham cracker crust, use vanilla wafers, or substitute the macadamia nuts for your favorite nut. i'm not a big fan of graham crackers so i'm always looking for new crusts to make. I took a crust recipe from one pie and combined it with the filling of another. BAKING IS NOT WRITTEN IN STONE, you can alter it any way you like! all you have to do is use common sense... keep the liquid equal and keep the dry ingredients equal. 

the second place you can improvise is with the filling. i actually cheated and used regular limes because my grocery store didn't have any key limes. it turned out just the same to me! you can leave out the zest or use less if the texture bothers you. i like A LOT of lime flavor to come through and the zest makes all the difference in the world for that. if you like your pie on the sweeter side, you can use ½ c. lime juice instead. also, you don't have to use fresh limes. you can buy the bottled juice and it will still turn out. i prefer fresh but that's how i like to cook. if you can't be bothered to squeeze limes, don't! 


  1. THIS WAS ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS. The crust was sooo good. I can't believe how yum it was. The pictures look great too Morgan. One day I'm going to have to use this as a cooking aid when my new roommate and I move into the apartment!

  2. thanks lexi. i'm glad you enjoyed it! you'll have to tell me all about your cooking adventures in your new place!

  3. RR
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  4. RR
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