Have you heard of Atlantic Beach pie? It’s kind of like a cross between a key lime and lemon meringue…and also the only dessert we want to eat this summer. Refreshingly tart and ever so salty, serve it after a seafood feast on the back patio for the full effect.
And if you haven’t heard of the confection, here’s a little backstory: The sweet-and-salty riff on North Carolina lemon pie rose to prominence after chef Bill Smith’s rendition was featured on NPR. What makes it special is twofold: One, the crust is made from crushed saltine crackers, which balance the sweet-tart filling. And two, the pie takes almost no time to assemble and bake, making it ideal for beginner bakers.
1½ sleeves saltine crackers (about 60 crackers)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed, at room
4 large egg yolks
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (see note)
Pinch of kosher salt
Freshly whipped cream and lemon or lime zest, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Make the Crust: Using your clean hands or a food processor, crush or pulse the crackers until you have fine crumbs. (You don’t need the whole mixture to be superfine; small chunks are OK.)
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the saltine crumbs and sugar. Add the butter and use your fingertips to work it into the crumb mixture until evenly incorporated; the mixture should hold together when squeezed in your hands.
4. Press the crust evenly into a 9-inch pie plate, bringing it all the way up the side. Freeze for 10 minutes, then bake until the crust turns lightly golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside to cool while you make the filling.
5. Make the Filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and salt until combined. Pour the filling into the pie crust. Return to the oven and bake until the filling is set (it should jiggle just slightly), 13 to 15 minutes. Refrigerate until completely chilled, about 3 hours or ideally overnight.
6. To serve, top with freshly whipped cream and lemon or lime zest.
Note: You can use lemon juice alone or a mix of lemon and lime juice for a slightly floral, less tart filling.