Sunday, June 10, 2012

"Go Right Ahead"

There are times in this life when things get embarrassing.  When you're out for a run and a stranger in a slow moving car hears you scream to yourself "COME ON WOMAN! YOU CAN DO IT!"... and they give you a look... like you must be a hobo. These are the times when wearing a ski mask in public, seems like a good idea. But there are also times to be proud. Like when you figure out the answer to a problem that's been plaguing  you, and you want to do a happy dance.

I've experienced both of these feelings this week. 

My shame; yes I talk to myself in public, and no, this is not the first time I've been caught.
My pride; I have found the holy grail of dairy free baking. Home made sweetened condensed coconut milk. 
It will change your life. It'll give you pride and if you're like me, it'll make you scream "EUREKA!" while doing a happy dance (and you won't even care who's giving you the eye!).

I will however confess, that while it did provoke a happy dance, it took me three tries to get this right. It isn't hard to do if you know what to expect, but in the throws of whisking I kept doubting myself. Is it thick enough yet?*whisk whisk whisk* Am I burning it up?* sniff sniff whisk* If it gets thicker when it cools is this thick enough? * whisk whisk whisk*  My first try I kept the heat way too low, and after an hour it hadn't really changed consistency at all. I figured I was just stupid, tried to use it anyway and ended up with a sort of soupy mousse situation. Fail!

My second try was in the middle of the night, which should have been my first clue that this wouldn't work out. I used raw sugar because that's all I had in the house, and since I  was headed to bed once I got done with the cook stage I just stuck the whole thing in the fridge to use in the morning.

 Don't be like me and make either of these choices.

 The raw sugar tinted everything a brownish golden hue, and the fat separated from the milk in the refrigerator over night, making an floating iceberg of coconut oil. When creaming my batter together I thought to myself, eh it'll all come out in the wash but alas this was not the case and the finished product was speckled with islands of coconut oil. Ew. 

By my third try I was a seasoned pro. I got a nice comfortable bench to sit on, and set myself up with some wifi action. I nursed the creamy dreamy coconut milk while it simmered a full forty five minutes, until it left streaks in the pan when I ran my whisk through it, was the consistency of yogurt, and just the slightest bit nutty smelling.

I let it sit until it was room temperature, and from there ignored my lazy urge to deal with it later and made the pie filling right away. This time everything was perfect. All the aspects of a key lime pie that I love and remember, no sacrifices, no excuses. Perfect texture, perfect taste, total elation. 

Strangers of the world, warm up your stink eye, because you better believe that I'm causing a scene!

Dairy Free Key Lime Pie

This is admittedly a little labor intensive to produce, you have to stand over a hot sauce pan whisking every moment or two for forty five minutes, but the results are beyond worth it. It's an equal swap for  sweetened condensed cows milk, wonderfully undetectable, and look, it makes cream pies!

Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk

2 (13.5 ounce) cans of  unsweetened coconut milk ( I used Thai Kitchen brand)
1/2 cup caster sugar

Add two cans of coconut milk and a 1/2 cup of sugar to a heavy bottomed sauce pan, and simmer on medium low heat (whisking frequently to avoid any lumps) for about 45 minutes until the mixture thickens and has reduced in volume by about half. Trust yourself on this, there is a visible difference between what you started out with and and the finished very thick yogurt like end product. If after 45 minutes it still seems too runny, just keep on simmering until it reduces.

Let cool to room temperature before using.


12 whole graham crackers
5 tbsp shortening
4 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In the bowl of a food processor add 12 whole graham crackers and pulse until you have medium-small crumbs.

In a mixing bowl combine 5 tbsp shortening, 4 tbsp coconut oil, 3tbsp of light brown sugar and the graham cracker crumbs. Fold mixture together with a rubber spatula until the crumbs are evenly coated with the oil mixture. Press crust into the bottom and sides of a 9 1/2 inch pie plate, bake for 10 minutes until golden brown. Let cool to room temperature before filling. Leave oven on.


4 large egg yolks
the zest of one lime
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp key lime juice
Sweetened condensed coconut milk

In a large mixing bowl, cream together all ingredients, whisking well to smooth out any lumps.
Bake at 325 for 15 minutes, center will still be jiggly. Set on a cooling rack until the pie is cool to the touch ( about room temp).Chill in the fridge until set, at least four hours or overnight. Slice and enjoy!


  1. You are quiet the girl and so delightfully informative.

  2. thank you thank you! My 1 year old is allergic to milk and I was about to make a key lime pie when I realized that that would be so mean to eat in front of him without giving him a taste. I was wondering how to make one with coconut milk instead and found your instructions. (plus your writing made me smile- I love when people include what doesn't work)

  3. this was gorgeous, though i have to admit to an utter lack of patience in getting that coconut milk to reduce. i had pie soup until i put it in the freezer. then it became this exotic key lime custard pie, and was divine.

  4. what a great concept-coconut sweetened condensed milk! Have you thought about using coconut cream if you are in a hurry? Since you are just evaporating the water, and concentrating the fats and sugars, it may work in this recipe. However, you will not get the sight cooked note if going this route.


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