Key Lime Pie Cheesecake with Sky-High Meringue

by Julie Ruble on February 20, 2013 · 25 comments

Feet.

It occurred to me, lying in corpse pose and trying to slow the hamster wheel of my thoughts, that my yoga teacher probably touches hundreds of feet each week. Every breath in and breath out, I heard her move to the next mat and take up the next pair of feet.

Before long, the creak of the floorboards that joined with sound of my rhythmic breathing was in front of my own mat. I felt my own feet lifted, gently squeezed, swayed from side to side to loosen my tense hips, pulled into alignment, and set down again. I smiled, like I always do, and wondered if she knew this was my favorite part of her class. Probably. It’s probably everyone’s favorite part.

But is it hers? Touching all those feet, sweaty from practice, rough with callouses? I wondered, like I often do, if she had hand sanitizer waiting in her purse to apply as soon as the last person left, taking with them the last risk of offending anyone. But something about the way she sincerely thanked us for practicing with her made me think that serving us in this way was something she counted as an honor.

That’s when I started thinking about Jesus.

Jesus also knelt to nurture someone’s feet. The night before He knew He would be killed, He took a moment to wash His disciples’ feet. This has always seemed to me a very tender and sacrificial act of love. The man who was fully king of all the world was also fully servant of all the world — by choice.

Jesus later reveals His mindset to the disciples, saying, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”

I want to be like Jesus. So far, though, I’ve always been like Peter. When Jesus knelt to wash Peter’s feet, Peter tried to demonstrate his love for Christ by refusing to let Him do so, perhaps thinking he was protecting Jesus from an act of debasement. But Jesus corrected him, saying, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

Peter wasn’t a bad person; he was just trying to worship. I get it. In fact, I see myself in him so clearly. Just like Peter trying to serve or honor Jesus in a misguided way, sometimes I try to serve by controlling, organizing, and managing. I take charge of my acts of service so that they fulfill my own expectations instead of humbly listening to what God’s expectations are for me.

I still remember once in college when, to model service, a small group of Christians met together to wash each others’ feet. I had it all planned in my head: whose feet I wanted to wash, how I wanted to serve. Before the event even really started, I was on my knees getting ready to dip my washcloth in the water. But it turns out the organizers had an agenda for the event and by taking charge of how I wanted it to look, I was jumping the gun. Typical.

I wasn’t trying to be more holy than anyone else, and I wasn’t putting on a show — I was just trying to worship, like Peter. I just went about it the wrong way. Some people might need to step up to serve, but I sometimes need to sit back, let go, and listen. I can’t count how many times in my live I’ve been ready to take charge when God was telling me to surrender, to rest.

That humility is what washing feet — or even my post-yoga foot massage — is all about. Subordinating your impulses and desires to someone who, for that time, you’re putting ahead of yourself. Subordinating yourself so much, in fact, that you will take one of basest parts of their body, their lowly feet, in your hands.

I bet my yoga teacher touches hundreds of feet each week. I also think she probably treasures every pair.

One way I was excited to get to serve some awesome friends of mine recently is by making them this Key Lime Pie Cheesecake. My friend Steven loves key lime, so I made a creamy, plain cheesecake with a tangy, traditional key lime pie custard on top. The whole thing sits in a graham cracker crust and is topped with a huge traditional meringue. I had to prove I could do a meringue after, ahem, previous mishaps. This Key Lime Pie Cheesecake is definitely on the tangy side, so you may want to cut down on the key lime juice if you like a sweeter pie, but it struck the perfect note to me. I hope you have someone in mind to serve it to.

How have you served recently? How could you serve someone soon?

One year ago: Poppy Seed Ham & Swiss Slider Melts
Two years ago: Quick Rosemary, Fig, and Goat Cheese Tarts
Three years ago: Clementine Cake

Key Lime Pie Cheesecake with Sky-High Meringue



Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking, using Nellie & Joe’s Key Lime Pie filling recipe and this meringue.
Yield: 10 servings

Do you like cheesecakey or custardy key lime pie? No matter what your answer is, this recipe will satisfy your craving — because it combines both textures! A creamy cheesecake is topped with a tangy layer of key lime custard and then a traditional meringue. If you don’t want to make a meringue (or if you’re making this on a humid day, when meringues typically don’t fare well), feel free to top this pretty cheesecake with freshly whipped cream.

Cheesecake Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs

Key Lime Pie Ingredients:
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue)
1/2 cup of key lime juice (about 20 key limes)
1 tablespoon grated lime zest (for decorating)
lime slices (for decorating)

Meringue Ingredients:
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons white sugar

Directions:
Notes: Cheesecakes are simple and super customizable. New to cheesecake making? Watch my 6 minute Cheesecake Video Tutorial for visual assistance! This recipe can be divided up over several days — you can make the cheesecake one day, the key lime layer the next, and the meringue on the day you’re ready to serve. Try to start a few days early, because the key lime layer’s flavor is perfect after chilling for a couple of days.

Make the cheesecake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a springform cheesecake pan. Combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter in a small bowl. Toss with a fork to moisten all of the crumbs. Using a flat-sided glass, press into an even layer covering the bottom and sides of your cheesecake pan (you want it to be tall —- try to get to about 2.5 inches high — and thin). Freeze the crust until the filling is ready.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed until well blended. Beat in the flour. Add in the vanilla and beat until well incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between each addition. Pour the filling into your crust very carefully, smoothing the top out.

Bake until the center moves only very slightly when the pan is lightly shaken (about 45 minutes). Check while baking periodically and put a pie shield (or strips of foil) around the top of your pan to protect the crust edges if they’re getting too dark. Just don’t let the shield/foil touch the crust — it’s delicate and might crumble. When you pull the cheesecake out, you can use a sharp knife to score a circle around the top of the cheesecake about an inch inside the crust so that as it cools and chills/sinks, it won’t pull the crust in too much. Don’t worry if it’s pretty, because you won’t be able to see it in the finished product! Let cheesecake cool on a wire rack while you prepare key lime filling. Keep oven preheated.

To make the key lime pie filling: Blend together the milk, egg yolks, and lime juice until smooth before pouring the filling onto your cheesecake. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes, keeping the crust shielded with foil. Let cool for about 10 minutes before chilling the cheesecake overnight — or two if you have the time; the flavor really matures and mellows with time. I left mine tented with foil instead of covered tightly with plastic wrap to avoid condensation that would affect the meringue.

Make meringue topping: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Stir water, 2 tablespoons sugar, and cornstarch over low heat in a saucepan for around 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In the very clean bowl of an electric stand mixer (I honestly wouldn’t attempt a meringue with a hand mixer), combine egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt. Whisk until mixture is foamy. Add vanilla and then gradually add the 6 tablespoons of sugar while whisking on medium-high speed. When the egg whites have soft peaks, very gradually drizzle in the cornstarch mixture (while still beating). Turn the mixer to high and beat the meringue to stiff peaks. The meringue should hold clear, firm peaks when you lift it with a spoon or with the whisk.

Very gently pile it onto your cheesecake, spreading it to the sides to seal it to the crust. Take a big glob of meringue and touch it to the top of the meringue on your cheesecake and pull away to form a “spike.” Continue doing this all around the top of the cake. Brown the meringue in the preheated oven. Sprinkle the cake with lime zest. You can also use thin slices of lime to garnish the cake. Serve the day you make the meringue for best results, or store tented in the fridge for no more than 1-2 days (the meringue will fall slightly with each day, but mine held up quite well!)

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

A_Boleyn February 20, 2013 at 11:54 pm

A nice life lesson to think on and a great recipe to enjoy afterwards. I love the tanginess of citrus to cut through the rich creaminess of the cheesecake. I paired a mixed citrus curd with some sweetened whipped cream and filled wonton cups today for dessert. The curd was great with caramel poached apples too. :)

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fallconsmate February 21, 2013 at 12:46 am

long ago, my mama belonged to a foot ministry offered through the church they attended.

the elderly and some homeless people came in once a month to get their feet tended to, toenails carefully clipped and smoothed, lotion applied. callouses were smothed as the person enjoyed a cup of tea or coffee, and the people doing the ministry….LISTENED to the people they were serving.

the preacher took notes as to who may need some support in illness, or in finding help through the county or state. i think THIS was what jesus wanted, for people to TEND to one another.

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Karly February 21, 2013 at 1:23 am

As someone who is spectacularly grossed out by feet, you should take it as a very real compliment that I loved everything about this post. I just love your writing. You always make me think.

Gorgeous pie, too!

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Robyn February 21, 2013 at 2:08 am

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul but let’s not forget the feet ’cause they keep us grounded. Great post and a beautiful dessert! Thanks Julie!

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linda February 21, 2013 at 3:16 am

Loved this post. Very introspective and thought provoking. Your students are very fortunate to have you guide them. I also can’t wait to try this; it looks absolutely delicious. Thank you.

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Vicki Bensinger February 21, 2013 at 4:46 am

This cheesecake is beautiful. I love key limes and with the spiked meringue it’s spectacular. Now to watch your video. Great recipe!

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Loretta | A Finn In The Kitchen February 21, 2013 at 5:04 am

These shots are so bright and beautiful. I feel like I’m on a tropical island just looking at them :) Gorgeous!

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Amanda @ The Dormestic Goddess February 21, 2013 at 12:40 pm

I’ve been praying about the exact issue of control for weeks now! I had never thought of it this way before though, and certainly never thought to pair any kind of dessert with feet ;)

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Cheryl P February 21, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Thank you so much for this post. What you wrote about service, control, the humility of service, and Christ spoke so much to me – I didn’t even need the recipe. :) I shared this post on my Facebook page, hoping even the non-foody people will read it.
May the Lord bless you today!

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Michele West February 21, 2013 at 9:11 pm

This post completely resonated with me! I absolutely loved it and the gorgeous dessert at the end is a wonderful perk;) Beautiful!

Have a blessed day!

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Mari @ Oh, Sweet & Savory February 22, 2013 at 6:59 pm

It’s such perfect timing for me to stumble upon this recipe! I’m just back from a trip to Orlando where I changed my mind about key lime pie. I’d never been a fan before, but I tasted a really scrumptious key lime pie at — of all places — a supermarket (Publix) bakery!

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Sally February 25, 2013 at 10:23 pm

Key Lime flavored anything is my favorite and it was a bit unsettling for the first word of your recipe to be feet, but your insightful reflection on the humility of true worship was every bit as satisfying as your delicious Key Lime Pie Cheesecake!

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Heather February 26, 2013 at 2:38 am

I have made several of your cheesecakes and I have a hard time getting the crust to stay put and not stick to the springform. And yes, I use a warm towel to try to loosen the sides, but then they come “crumbling” down and I try to glue it together with frosting or ganache or whatever I’m decorating with. haha. Any tips? I’m following the recipe exact so I am not sure what the problem is really.
Anyways, great post and I cannot wait to try to make this for my Mother in Law who has requested a Key lime cheesecake from me just the other day. Hopefully this will satisfy her craving. :-)

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking February 26, 2013 at 3:26 am

Hey Heather! Let me help you try to troubleshoot this. I never have this problem, and I’ve even kind of stopped using the warm towel trick! Let me ask some questions: do other cheesecake crusts stay put in your pan? If not (or if you haven’t tried any), it may be the pan. Maybe try spraying it with cooking spray. Another question is do you chill the cheesecake for the full time before depanning? That could change the outcome — the warm crust will almost certainly crumble, but after it chills, it doesn’t really. Let me know!

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Heather February 26, 2013 at 3:35 pm

I’ve mainly only tried the crust this way with the red velvet cheesecake with Oreo crust. I’ve sprayed the Pan and cooled overnight. Now it’s usually not the entire sides that fall but a few small sections and it’s just irritating when you slowly open the springform and see them stick. :-( ugh. My next step is to try to line the sides with wax paper but I know that will be pretty tricky. It very could be my pans, but it worked out great the very first time but every time after…. Sides started sticking. Anyway I guess it’s just practice practice practice. Thanks for the tip! I’ll keep trying :-)

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Heather February 26, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Oh and with all of my cheesecakes, I always line the bottom with wax paper for easy removal off the base.

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Heather February 27, 2013 at 4:17 am

Ok so I think I may have figured out the problem….I bake my cheesecake in a water bath, I believe the moisture is making it hard to remove from the pan. I will have to try not using it and see how that goes

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Debbie Burns March 4, 2013 at 1:25 pm

What size pan are you using for this recipe?

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking March 4, 2013 at 1:26 pm

9-inch springform.

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Hannah C June 29, 2013 at 2:05 am

How long do you have to let the cheesecake cool before you put the key lime pie filling layer on? I had sQueezed all my limes before hand, so I fear that I did not let it cool long enough.

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Julie Ruble July 3, 2013 at 10:46 pm

I don’t think I let it cool too long! Did it work out okay for you?

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Hannah C July 3, 2013 at 11:24 pm

It worked out wonderful. A big hit at the party…everyone LOVED it!

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Julie Ruble July 3, 2013 at 11:27 pm

HOORAY!!

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Shelda Randall April 15, 2014 at 8:21 pm

As I started reading (and kept seeing these gorgeous pictures of cheesecake), I began to wonder if a scripture lesson had mistakenly been placed instead of the recipe………..then I GOT IT! That’s what you do! How wonderful! Had never been on your site before. Enjoyed thoroughly. Our church has an annual footwashing service around the first of the year. God truly knows what we need! My son LOVES Key Lime Pie. Will surely try this one.

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Vickie S. April 17, 2014 at 8:02 am

I lived in the Florida Keys for many years, and had key limes coming out the ears! Learned to use them in many recipes, including a very good one for cheesecake, but yours looks even better! Can’t wait to make this one so thank you!

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