National Key Lime Pie Day: 5 places to celebrate at the Jersey Shore
Think National Key Lime Pie Day is one of those food "holidays" worth skipping?
(We're looking at you, National Gazpacho Day.)
It's not. The day, Sept. 26, is a celebration of the temptingly tangy confection made from the tiny limes – about the size of a Ping-Pong ball – that grow throughout the Florida Keys.
What's so special about Key limes? The fruit is a little more tart than its larger cousin, and more floral in taste. To make the pie that bears its name, lime juice – and zest, if the pastry chef knows their stuff – is mixed with egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk, then baked in a crust and topped with meringue or whipped cream.
It's a simple dessert, yes. But the pie, in all its tropically tart glory, is worthy of a day all its own. To celebrate, here are five desserts worth trying.
Key Lime Pie at Skipper's Seafood Market, Barnegat
Did we expect to find an award-winning Key Lime Pie at a roadside seafood market in the Pine Barrens? No. But that's the most exciting thing about food, isn't it? Delicious dishes are anywhere and everywhere, just waiting to be discovered.
"We'll steal your hearts with our signature Florida-style Key Lime Pies," proclaims Skipper's, which has been making the dessert since 1990, owner Bree Schoeneberg said. She owns the market and adjoining seasonal restaurant, Sea Dogs Grille, with her husband, Darren, and they inherited the recipe six years ago when they purchased Skipper's from its original owners, Frank and Sherri Rebmann.
The recipe for the pie originated in Bonita Springs, Florida, Schoeneberg said, which is where the Rebmanns lived while the market was closed for the season. In the summers, the Schoenebergs make between 500 and 600 pies per week, in mini, half and whole sizes ($1.99 to $12.99).
To get a taste of their secret recipe, you'll need to hurry: Skipper's will close for the season Oct. 26. Both the market and restaurant (which is already closed), will reopen Mother's Day weekend 2020. But Schoeneberg said the pies freeze well, adding that is how it is served – frozen and by the slice – at her restaurant.
Go: 647 Route 72; 609-698-4430, skippersseafoodmarketnj.com.
Key Lime Pie and Pops at 502 Baking Co., Brick
You know a bakery makes good pie when customers call to reserve theirs in advance.
"I've been making the Key Lime Pies for years," said Toni Marie, who last fall opened 502 Baking Co. with fellow baker Judy Celeste. "It's the perfect blend of tart and sweet, and everyone raves about the graham crust, too."
The pair's Key Lime Pies are made fresh daily at the bakery, which also sells them to local restaurants, including Atlantic Offshore Fishery and The Food Shack in Point Pleasant Beach. They come in three sizes: mini ($10), large ($20) and extra-large ($30).
"Their popularity has increased at the farmers markets, restaurants, and especially at the bakery," Marie said. "Customers usually call ahead to reserve them to be sure they get one before we run out."
The bakery also makes Key Lime Pie Pops, which are tiny pies dipped in dark chocolate on a stick ($6).
Go: 502 Brick Blvd.; 732-477-4502, 502bakingcompany.com.
Gluten-free, vegan Key lime treats at Papa Ganache, Matawan
Think you can't enjoy Key Lime Pie because you are vegan or follow a gluten-free diet? You can at Papa Ganache, a small-batch bakery that uses vegan ingredients and has a dedicated gluten-free kitchen.
For National Key Lime Pie Day, try a traditional pie or cupcakes, cake pops, mini Bundt cakes and cheesecake cups ($3 to $15). In place of the sweetened condensed milk that is traditional in Key Lime Pie, the bakery uses a curd made from coconut milk.
Papa Ganache, which will celebrate a decade in business in March, is more than desserts (and breakfast and savory items): The bakery is an extension of owner Lisa D Siroti's social services agency, Papa Ganache Project, which provides clinical and therapeutic services to children and families. Pretty sweet.
Go: 106 Main St.; 732-217-1750, papaganache.com.
Key Lime Pie at Big Apple Bakery, Stafford
Classic baked goods are the heart of Big Apple Bakery, a decades-old shop owner Joe Urciuoli describes as "an old-school, traditional bakery."
There's black and white cookies, pastries, coffee rings and rugelah of all kinds, plus pizza rustica – an Italian meat and cheese pie – in the spring, apple dumplings in the fall and stollen at Christmas.
Tradition continues with Urciuloi's Key Lime Pie ($12.55), which is made with Key lime juice imported from Key West, Florida. The pie is topped with whipped cream and a slice of lime and ringed with toasted coconut.
Go: 595 E. Bay Ave., Manahawkin section of Stafford; 609-597-7802; thebigapplebakery.com.
Key Lime Pie Gelato at Amici Gelato & Caffe, Asbury Park
It may not be pie in the traditional sense, but the Key Lime Pie Gelato at Amici Gelato & Caffe hits all the right notes.
The flavor was featured over the summer at the new shop, which opened in March. Swirled with lime zest and topped with graham cracker crumbs, grab one scoop for $4, two scoops for $5.50 and three for $6.75, and for a little extra flavor, choose one of the shop's more than 30 toppings.
Go: 630 Mattison Ave.; 848-226-3700, amiciasburypark.com.
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Sarah Griesemer joined the USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey more than 15 years ago and has held a variety of positions since, but the work she does now is her favorite: food writing. Her favorite stories to write are the ones that make a difference for the Shore’s mom and pop restaurants. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @jersey.shore.eats.