Sweet Hacks: 10-Minute No-Bake Lime Cracker Pie

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[Photos: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

My wife doesn't bake much, but she's got a few tricks up her short sleeves. Let me explain with a story that is most likely true in fact if not in detail:

A couple Thanksgivings ago, I was doing my usual messing about in the kitchen, slicing brussels sprouts, mashing potatoes, simmering gravy, flipping birds both literal and figurative. While I was busying myself rolling out the pie crust and passing the sweet potatoes through the tamis to make my famously smooth and custardy sweet potato pie, the wife was sipping white wine, schmoozing with the in-laws, kicking her feet back, and acting generally unconcerned about the state of dessert.

It's ironic, then, that when the turkey was done eaten and dessert finally rolled around, my wife pulled out a pie that she'd not only somehow managed to make without setting foot in the kitchen, but that also somehow got completely downed before the sweet potato pie was even half gone.

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"What's this madness?" I asked her.

"You're just jealous because my dessert was better than yours."

"Silly wife! You've been married to me long enough to know that I never get jealous."

"True, but there is a first time for everything. If I want to make sure you never get jealous again, I'll have to remember never to make a dessert that's better than yours, while you have your back turned peeling sweet potatoes."

"Touché. Now give me the recipe, please."

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Turns out that it's a variant of a key lime pie—that is, a quick cheaty custard made by stirring together heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, and lime juice. The acid in the lime juice thickens the heavy cream while the high protein content of the condensed milk and its natural emulsifying properties prevent the whole thing from curdling. After she makes the cream, she layers it in a casserole dish (you can use a pie plate or maybe some margarita glasses if you want to be extra fancy) with alternating layers of Ducales crackers, a salty, buttery Colombian cracker similar to our Ritz. Just like an icebox cake, you let the whole thing sit, and it becomes a sliceable, tangy, sweet-and-salty pie. Magic.

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So to sum up: this is a four ingredient, ten minute, better-than-homemade-sweet-potato-pie dessert. Could you ask for anything more out of a recipe?

My wife says she learned the recipe from her aunt (they love condensed milk in Colombia), but is unsure where it originally came from (maybe her aunt invented it?) Has anyone else seen this one before?

Get the Recipe

10-Minute Lime Cracker Pie »

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