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Atlantic Beach Pie

by Staff
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PHOTO: ANDREW BUI; FOOD STYLING: BROOKE CAISON

Key lime and lemon meringue pie lovers, gather around! Perfected by Chef Bill Smith at his iconic restaurant, Crook’s Corner in North Carolina, Atlantic beach pie is a twist on a North Carolina dessert staple. He took the pies he remembered from his youth and swapped the meringue topping for a much easier whipped cream. What makes this cool, creamy dessert truly unique is the cracker pie crust. Crackers are crushed in a food processor and combined with butter and sugar (we went for light brown!), similar to a graham cracker or cookie pie crust. For extra butteriness, we used butter crackers instead of the traditional Ritz crackers.

Cracker Crust 101 

Cracker crust is by no means complicated, but there is a right way to do it. 
—Get the right crumb size: The smaller you blitz the crumbs, the easier it will be to evenly press the crust into the pie pan. But don’t go so far that the crumbs turn into dust. 
—Fixing a sliding crust: If you find that your pie crust starts to slide down the sides of the pan, allow it to finish baking and press it back into shape with a glass or a measuring cup while it’s still warm. As the crust cools, it will hold the proper shape. 

Whole Egg Vs. Egg Yolk Custard 

Like Key lime and lemon meringue pies, Atlantic beach pie is a baked custard pie. Custard pies are made from a base of egg yolks, milk, sugar, and some sort of flavoring. Egg yolks make the custard super smooth and creamy, but too much can make your custard taste a bit eggy and heavy. Adding two whole eggs will help you get that perfect texture without a ton of eggy flavor. 

This pie is the ultimate way to end a hearty Southern feast or satisfy a late-night snack craving. Keep any leftover slices in the pie plate, cover with plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

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Yields:

12


servings

Prep Time:

1

hour

10

mins

Total Time:

4

hours

0

mins

Cracker Crust

2 1/2


sleeves butter crackers (about 75 crackers/250 g.)

1/2
c.

butter, softened 

1/4
c.

packed light brown sugar

Lemon-Lime Custard Filling

1


(14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

1/3
c.

fresh lemon juice (from about 2 large lemons)

1/3
c.

fresh lime juice (from 3 to 4 large limes)

Whipped Cream Topping And Assembly

3
tbsp.

light brown sugar 

1
tsp.

finely grated lemon zest

1
tsp.

finely grated lime zest

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Cracker Crust

  1. In a food processor, pulse crackers until finely ground with a few pea-size pieces remaining, 25 to 30 pulses. Add butter and brown sugar and continue to pulse until butter is incorporated and a crumbly dough starts to form, about 15 pulses.
  2. Transfer cracker mixture to a 9″ glass pie pan. Press into an even layer in bottom and up sides of pan. Freeze 10 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake crust until deep golden brown and smells nutty and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

Lemon-Lime Custard Filling

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks, eggs, and milk until combined. Add lemon juice and lime juice and whisk until smooth.
  2. Pour custard into pie shell. Continue to bake until center of pie is set but still slightly jiggly, about 18 minutes. 
  3. Transfer pie plate to a wire rack and let cool 1 hour. Place in refrigerator and chill until cold, about 2 hours. 

Whipped Cream Topping And Assembly

  1. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed or a whisk, in a medium bowl, beat cream and brown sugar until stiff peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes. Using a piping bag or spatula, top cooled pie with whipped cream.
  2. Sprinkle with lemon zest and lime zest and a pinch of sea salt.
  3. Make Ahead: Pie can be made 4 days ahead. Cover pie plate with plastic and chill.

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atlantic beach pie

PHOTO: ANDREW BUI; FOOD STYLING: BROOKE CAISON

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