If you’ve been following me on Instagram, and/or have seen my previous post about the “Key Lime Pie FAIL” then you will know how proud I am of this recipe.
I love baking, but I don’t know the science behind a lot of it, so when I try to “veganize” a baking recipe, it usually doesn’t turn out great – at least the first time it doesn’t. This recipe took me the longest and I had made a total of 4 pies to try to get the right taste, texture, and a crust that stayed in place.
I love graham cracker crust, but apparently I still need to work on my graham cracker skills. WHY??? I gave up finally and just bought a crust because I was too lazy to make a simple one out of flour, earth balance butter, and cold water. After 3 pies I wanted it to be as quick and simple as possible!
I then remembered when I had made vegan lemon bars and I used arrowroot as the thickener and it needed to set overnight – well this is pretty much a lemon bar but lime… so why not? And it worked! I’m so glad it worked! But then I wondered how arrowroot worked as a thickener and why heat was needed…
So how do starches work as thickeners?
I read this article, but basically this is what it was saying as far as basic thickener science and specifically arrowroot:
Starch (flour, corn starch, arrowroot, tapioca) is a carbohydrate that has high amounts of glucose held together by glycosidic bonds. Got that? Starches thicken by gelatinization. It’s a process that breaks down the bonds of starch molecules in water AND heat, which causes hydrogen bonds – which allows more water… because water is hydrogen and oxygen… I hope I’m describing this right, or at least close. This dissolves the starch into the water/liquid.
So basically the starch absorbs the liquid. Once the liquid is heated the starch granules burst releasing starch into the liquid, becoming a gelatinous mass.
A lot of people are familiar with using corn starch, but since I am allergic to corn, I learned I can use arrowroot instead! Awesome! But come to find out, the lemon bar recipe I remembered used arrowroot for a reason – and thank goodness I remembered it. Arrowroot thickens at a lower temperature and is not weakened by acidic ingredients, like lemon or lime juice (point #1 for arrowroot!). It has a neutral taste (point #2!), and is not affected by freezing (why not, point #3!).
Note: Mix arrowroot with a cool liquid before adding to hot liquid. The mixture should only be heated until the mixture starts to thicken and then removed immediately. Overheating breaks down the thickening process.
So, now that I have this recipe, and fully understand the process of why it worked, I’m so very proud of it! It’s one of the easiest, quickest dessert recipes I have – other than cooling time. I hope you enjoy it!
Key Lime Pie
- 1 frozen pie crust (most are vegan)
- 2/3 c lime juice
- 3-4 tbsp arrowroot, depending on the thickness you want (pictures are 3 tbsp)
- 2 cans Nature’s Charm Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk
- 2 tsp lime zest
- 1/3 c yogurt
- Cook pie crust to directions, usually about 10 minutes at 350 degrees F.
- In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice and arrowroot.
- Blend together the lime juice mixture, sweetened condensed milk, lime zest, and yogurt until creamy.
- Add mixture to the stove in a medium pot on medium-high heat. Whisk continually until it starts to boil. The second it starts boiling it will activate and start to thicken. Turn off heat. Remove from heat. Add to the baked pie crust. Once it has cooled for about 10-20 minutes, add to the fridge for at least 6-8 hours, if not overnight to firm in the fridge.
- Enjoy the next day!