Tart lemons and saltines combine in this outstanding summer dessert
Citrus desserts? Mais oui! Especially Atlantic Beach Pie, which features creamy lemon filling in a saltine crust.
It’s a lot like Key Lime Pie. But the salty factor takes this dish on a seaside holiday.
Serve Atlantic Beach Pie at your next dinner party – and dream of strolling on the sand. Swimsuits optional.
Recipe: Atlantic Beach Pie
We learned about Atlantic Beach Pie from the New York Times. Mrs. Kitchen Riffs, the dessert maven in our household, adapted this dish from their recipe.
Prep time for this recipe is about 20 minutes. Total time, including baking, is about an hour.
This pie is best when served cold. So allow it to chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours (or longer) before serving.
For the crust:
- ~1½ sleeves saltine crackers
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1½ sticks unsalted butter, melted
- 5 egg yolks (preferably pasteurized; see Notes)
- 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- pinch of sea salt or kosher salt
- Make the crust: Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using a food processor, grind the saltines into small pieces. Add the sugar and mix well. Pour the ground saltines and sugar into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the melted butter, then stir by hand until the mixture holds together. Press the crust mixture along the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for about 12 minutes, until the crust just starts to brown. Remove the crust from the oven and allow it to cool on a rack while you make the filling.
- Make the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a medium-sized mixing bowl, using a hand mixer), whisk the egg yolks for about 1 minute. Add the sweetened condensed milk, then the lemon juice and salt. Mix until all the ingredients are well combined.
- Pour the filling mixture into the pie shell and bake for 15 to 18 minutes (or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the filling reads about 170 to 180 degrees F). Remove the pie from the oven and allow it to cool on a rack. Once it has cooled to room temperature, refrigerate the pie until ready to serve.
- You can make the entire crust (Step 1) in the food processor if you want (just pour in the melted butter and whirl). We prefer to mix the melted butter in by hand because we find it easier to control the texture of the crust that way.
- It’s easy to make this pie gluten free. Just use gluten-free saltines.
- You can substitute Ritz crackers for saltines if you want, but we much prefer the flavor of saltines.
- Alternatively, you could make a graham-cracker crust for this pie (though we think salty works better with lemons).
- You can substitute lime juice for some or all of the lemon juice.
- Eggs carry a slight (but real) risk of salmonella. So we suggest using pasteurized eggs in this pie filling (or anything else you’re going to taste before baking).
- You can serve this pie with whipped cream if desired (in fact, the original recipe calls for this). We prefer it neat, or garnished with just a lemon slice (or the zest from lemons and/or limes).
- You can also sprinkle some coarse sea salt on top of the pie before serving (the extra hit of salt works beautifully with the sweet flavor of the pie).
- This pie is fairly rich, so we usually cut smallish pieces. That means you can serve it for dinner, and still have enough left over for breakfast the next day. Win-win.
- Atlantic Beach Pie is a traditional North Carolina dessert that is well known in coastal restaurants. It became nationally famous through the efforts of Chapel Hill restaurateur and chef Bill Smith.
Life’s a Beach
“Yum,” I said. “This is my kind of lemon aid!”
“Well, lemons are my favorite squeeze,” said Mrs Kitchen Riffs. “After you, of course.”
“I’ll happily pucker up to you,” I said. “And this crust is definitely worth its salt.”
“Yup, when life gives you lemons,” said Mrs K R. “Make Atlantic Beach Pie.”
“This is a pretty small piece, though,” I said. “I wouldn’t be a sour puss if you offered me another.”
“OK,” said Mrs K R. “Be careful, though. You don’t want to end up like a beached whale.”
No worries. A rising tide lifts all Riffs.
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