Home of Economy-Herald pie recipes: Jill Hanson's key lime pie tastes as bright as it looks

Hanson entered this recipe for her third-round matchup in the head-to-head competition and it was good enough to push her into the championship round.

Jill Hanson Key Lime Pie .jpg
"Double Crust Luscious Key Lime Pie," by Jill Hanson.
Grand Forks Herald
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Sweet, tangy and – for some reason – “bright.” Those are the terms that some of the judges, reporters and bystanders used when they tasted Jill Hanson’s “Double Crust Luscious Key Lime Pie” earlier this year during the Home of Economy-Grand Forks Herald Pie Bake-off.

Jill Hanson, Newfolden.jpg
Jill Hanson, of Newfolden, Minnesota, is a finalist in the Home of Economy-Grand Forks Herald Pie Bake-off.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Hanson, who finished second overall in the 16-baker, four-week tournament, became known throughout the contest for her exceptional crusts. This lime pie used that crust as a base and then piled the citrusy, creamy filling past the brim, topped with whipped cream and decorative, lime-colored designs.

It was a delicious take on a classic recipe and, yes, it tastes as “bright” as it looks. Hanson entered this recipe for her third-round matchup in the head-to-head competition and it was good enough to push her into the championship round.

Following is Hanson’ recipe for “Double Crust Luscious Key Lime.” During the holiday season, the Herald will be publishing the recipes of all 30 pies entered in this year's Home of Economy-Grand Forks Herald Pie Bake-off.

Recipes will variously publish in print, e-editions and online and will be compiled on the Herald's website.


Double Crust Luscious Key Lime

Baker: Jill Hanson

Hometown: Newfolden, Minnesota

Business sponsor: Hugo’s Family Marketplace


1-⅛ cup flour

1 cup cold lard

1-½ tsp salt

6 to 7 Tbsp ice cold water


¾ cup crushed graham crackers

3 Tbsp butter, melted

1 Tbsp sugar

Mix flour and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in cold lard until firm and mealy. Add ice cold water, stir with a fork until you have large clumps. Use hands to form a ball, don’t overwork the dough. Put into zip lock bag or wrap in cling wrap, squish to form a disc. Refrigerate until ready to use, at least 30 minutes. While dough is chilling, crush graham crackers and measure out ¾ cup into small mix bowl and set aside.

Roll out chilled pie crust dough and put in 9” pie pan, trim, roll and crimp edge of crust. Price with fork and set aside.

Mix crushed graham crackers with melted butter and sugar. Mix well. * Carefully line inside of crust lined pie pan with graham cracker mix. Line just up to crimped edge. Line double crust with parchment or foil and fill with weights or dried beans, to hold crust from falling.

Bake in preheated 425° oven for 14 minutes, then turn oven down to 400°, bake 4 minutes more. Carefully remove foil/parchment and beans/pie weights and bake an additional 7 to 10 more minutes. *** If edge of crust is getting browned, cover with foil strips or edge shield. Remove and set on cooling rack while you make the filling.



14 ounces of sweetened condensed milk (I make mine homemade or you can use canned. The recipe for homemade is at the end).

4 large or 5 medium egg yolks

2 tsp grated fresh Key Lime zest (use regular lime if Key Lime not available)

½ cut Key Lime Juice (fresh or bottled, I use both. Can use regular limes)

Preheat oven to 350°, rack in center of oven.

With an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks until pale and fluffy (about 3 minutes)

Gradually add the sweetened condensed milk and beat until light and fluffy (about 4 to 5 minutes). Add the lime zest and lime juice, mix thoroughly. Pour into baked crust and bake for 20 minutes or until filling is set. ** May need to shield the crust edge so it doesn’t get too browned.

Remove from oven and cool completely on wire rack.

While pie is cooling, make the Lime Curd.

Lime Curd

3 large eggs

¾ cup granulated sugar

⅛ tsp salt

½ cup Key Lime Juice (fresh or bottled, I use both)

Zest of 2 Key Limes (or 1 large regular lime)

4 Tbsp butter

Put eggs, sugar, salt, key lime juice and zest in medium saucepan. Do not put on heat yet, whisk the ingredients together until smooth. Now place saucepan over low heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until mixture thickens, about 4 to 6 minutes. Cook 2 minutes longer, then turn all the way to low and add the butter. Stir until smooth. Pour through mesh sieve to remove any unwanted lumps.

Pour ⅔ of the curd over baked/cooling pie. *Save the remaining ⅓ of the curd for decorating and adding to the whipped cream. Allow pie to cool completely and then refrigerate, overnight is best.

When ready to serve, make the whipped topping.

Whipped Topping

1-½ tsp unflavored gelatin (Knox)

2 Tbsp cold water

1-½ cups cold heavy whipping cream plus 2 Tbsp, to temper gelatin

½ cup powdered sugar, rounded

1 tsp vanilla

¼ to ½ cup Key Lime Curd

Whisk the gelatin and the cold water in a small bowl until combined, set aside (Bloom gelatin).

In a large chilled mixing bowl, beat the heavy cream and powdered sugar until slightly thickened, but not to the soft peak stage.

Microwave the gelatin and water mixture for 5 to 10 seconds or until it returns to a liquid form, then add 2 Tbsp heavy cream to temper liquid gelatin.

Slowly drizzle the gelatin mixture into the whipping cream while beating on low speed. Increase speed to med-high until stiff peaks form. Stir in vanilla and fold in key lime curd.

Put in a piping bag and pipe onto cooled and chilled pie.

Use the remaining curd for decoration as well. I put it in a small zip lock and just cut off a small amount of one corner to pipe onto whipped topping.

Decorate as you like.

I use melting chocolate in multi colors to make piped flowers onto wax paper. When hardened, peel off and use for decor.

Recipe for Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

(I double the recipe to get 14 oz)

This is so much better than store bought canned, worth the hour it takes to make it.

2 cups whole milk

⅓ cup heavy cream

⅔ cup granulated sugar

½ tsp vanilla

Add milk, cream and sugar to a saucepan and heat over medium heat. Whisk to combine and dissolve sugar. Bring to a mild boil. Turn down heat slightly so that the mixture is at a gentle boil/strong simmer. Cook to reduce, checking on it and whisking it often. If it starts to boil over, give it a whisk, but don’t turn down the heat too much. Keep the heat at medium/medium low, but closer to medium. You need the heat to reduce the milk.

Once the mixture is thick and creamy, add vanilla and whisk to combine.

Pour into a bowl and let cool before using. Measure out what you need and store the rest in a small mason jar or airtight container. Refrigerate for up to a week or freeze up to 3 months.

** I double the batch and I use a large skillet so it doesn’t take quite an hour for a double batch.

Related Topics: GFH PIES
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