Pie filling with yogurt is hard to argue with

Credit: Photo by Rebecca Firkser

Key lime pie is one of those summer staples that I don't get tired of. It's pretty easy to put together, doesn't require any fussy pastry making, and you can have the oven on for a minimal amount of time. It's a perfect thing to bring to a vacation house or a cookout. The bright-tart-sweet combo pairs well with berries, and cuts through the fattiness of grilled meats. But the truth is that I don't always want the rigmarole of the pie—sometimes I just want three good bites of key lime pie filling. Maybe with yogurt, maybe with cream, always with whatever fruit is beckoning at the farmer's market. And as is so often the case in my breakfast-centric job, I started thinking about how I could adapt key lime pie to be for breakfast.

Don't get me wrong—a slice of key lime pie for breakfast is wonderful. But sometimes it's too much. So I found myself experimenting with making key lime curd, in the model of lemon curd. Key limes, like every other citrus fruit, lend themselves well to the format, and having a tub of key lime curd in the fridge allowed me to dollop some atop a bowl of strawberries and blackberries in the morning, stir it into yogurt, or dish it out alongside ice cream fro dessert. It's versatile, vaguely tropical, and very beachy. Sometimes I crumble a graham cracker or cookie on top of it for the complete deconstructed key lime pie thing, other times I just leave it be.

Because I've been too lazy to bring out my stand mixer and want to minimize my kitchen work, I've taken a sort of loose-cannon approach to curd lately: For the key lime curd, I combine a cup of key lime juice (I regret to tell you that fresh is much better, but if key limes aren't around, regular ones will work just perfectly), four whole eggs, four egg whites, a half cup of sugar, and 12 tablespoons of butter, cubed, into a 4-quart saucepan and set it over low heat. Whisk constantly until the butter is melted, bump up the heat to medium, and keep whisking until the mixture thickens to the consistency of slightly runny pudding, enough to coat the back of a spoon. (It happens pretty quickly.) Strain it if you have the patience and hate tiny bits of egg white, then dump it into a container and stick it in the fridge to cool. Once it's set, you can use it as a spread, cake filling, dip for cookies, or just loose on fruit. Jimmy Buffet would be proud.