Bahama Breeze Key Lime Pie

Bahama Breeze Key Lime Pie
For the crust:
2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted

For the filling and meringue:
6 eggs, separated
2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup fresh Key lime juice (from about 16 Key limes)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lightly coat a 9-inch or 10-inch springform baking pan with cooking spray. To make the crust: In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and 3 tablespoons sugar. Pour the melted butter over the crumb mixture and stir with a spoon until evenly combined. Pour about 2 cups of the crumb mixture in the springform pan. Tilt the pan and press the mixture along the sides, turning the pan as you go, until the crumbs are evenly packed up the sides of the pan. Pour the remaining crumb mixture into the pan, and press evenly in the bottom. The entire pan should be coated with a 1/4-inch crust.

To make the filling:
Place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl and chill until needed. Meanwhile, in a separate mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks and condensed milk until well-combined. Slowly add the lime juice, then stir in the vanilla extract while continuing to whisk or beat the mixture until all ingredients are well-combined. Pour the filling into the crust and set aside (the filling will begin to set).

To make the meringue:
Whip the egg whites with a kitchen mixer until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and whip until well-combined. Add 1 1/2 cups sugar and beat on high until the egg whites are very stiff, 3 to 5 minutes. Drop the meringue by large spoonfuls over the filling. Working from the outside in, smooth the top of the filling with a spoon or offset spatula. Use a spoon to press down lightly into the meringue and pull up, forming peaks.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until meringue is lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes; transfer to refrigerator and chill for 3 to 4 hours before serving.

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