Tahoe recipe: Jen Hodder’s delicious Key Lime Pie | SierraSun.com

Tahoe recipe: Jen Hodder’s delicious Key Lime Pie

Simone Grandmain
Special to the Sun-Bonanza
This key lime pie is a family favorite in the Hodder household, but I like it too.
Courtesy Jen Hodder |

TAHOE-TRUCKEE, Calif. — I don’t mind if someone is a better cook than me. I really don’t. Take, for instance, Peter Ganaire (France), Alan Ducasse (Monaco) and Seiji Yamamoto (Japan). They are all great “chefs” and probably cook better than me, but I don’t care, because they live far, far away.

Susur Lee, also great chef, probably cooks better than me, and does live a little closer to the US (Canada), but I don’t care because once he cooked for me at the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe — like one chef cooking for another — so we are cool. Homies, in fact.

Mark Estee, who owns a bunch of award-winning restaurants, used to do his chef thing in Truckee, but then he moved to Reno, so that left me to carry the torch, and I was cool with that.

Alice Waters does some “chefing” but she is all about Slow Food and that just would not fly in my household of down and dirty fast eaters, so no problem there. She does her thing, I do mine. Very different.

I am so OK with other people cooking better than me that I ask, at the end of each of “Simone Appetit” column, in my tag-line, for readers to “send in your recipes!” Yes I do. Bring ‘em, on! I can handle it. It’s not like I can chef for the entire world, right?

So when Jen Hodder sent me her recipe for key lime pie, I greeted it warmly, not even the least bit threatened by another chef in proximity.

I warmly responded that due to the color of the pie (green), I would not be able to run her recipe until St. Patrick’s Day. Then I decided to try the recipe. Pretty darn tasty.

I guess I can go green more than once a year. Plus, the picture she sent of her pie was a little better than mine. (Beginner’s luck.) Is there anything I would change? Yes. Jen needs to move. This town is not big enough for the two of us.


Graham Cracker Crust*

One and 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (12 whole crackers)

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

6.5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Big pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9’ pie plate and set aside.

Combine graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Mix briefly with your fingers. Add the butter and incorporate well, mixing first with a fork, and then using your hands to make sure all the butter is evenly distributed amongst the crumbs.

If using a food processor, mix graham crackers until they are fine crumbs, add all dry ingredients and mix briefly, then add butter and mix well until incorporated. Spread the crumbs evenly and loosely in the pie plate, pressing them into the bottom and up the side.

Refrigerate for 10 minutes. Place on the center oven rack and bake for 7-8 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

*If using a store bought crust follow package directions.

Filling ingredients:

6 large egg yolks

3 teaspoons finely grated lime zest

Two 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk

1 cup lime juice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl and using an electric mixer on high speed, beat together the egg yolks and lime zest for about 1 minute.

Add the condensed milk and mix again until incorporated. Reduce the speed to medium and in a steady stream, add the lime juice.

Mix for 1 more minute until thoroughly combined. Pour the filling into the pie shell. Place the pie plate onto the center oven rack and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pie is firm in the middle but still soft to the touch.

Allow pie to cool and set on a wire rack for 45 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 1 more hour before serving.

Once ready to serve, top the pie with store bought or homemade whipped cream.

Homemade Whipped Cream ingredients:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2-3 tablespoons powdered or granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


About 10 minutes before you plan to make the whipped cream, place a medium to large bowl and the beaters from your electric mixer in the freezer.

When you’re ready, add all ingredients into the bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. Make sure not to overbeat, or the whipped cream will begin to once again fall flat.

Cover the pie as you wish; in a large middle dollop, smoothed across with an offset spatula, or with a pastry bag and tip into a design of the heart! Garnish with one lime sliced any way you wish.

Tip: If using fresh limes, the key to getting the most juice is to microwave them for about 15 seconds, then roll them on the counter before juicing them.

Simone Grandmain is an internationally published travel and food writer who currently calls Truckee-Tahoe home. She welcomes your recipes, kitchen “must-haves” and food news at simonegrandmain@gmail.com.

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