Well, summer is nearly over, but I've got a recipe that you might want to try before it completely hits the road. Have you ever been tempted to buy a bag of those key limes you see in the produce section this time of year just because they are so darn little and cute? Well, go ahead! Buy that bag of key limes and make these creamy and delicious key lime cheesecake bars. I was going to make a lime version of my mom's Lemon Bars, but then I thought, why not change it up a bit and do a cheesecake twist on it? This recipe is an adaptation of one I saw at Modern Comfort Food.
Key Lime Cheesecake Bars
¾ cup graham cracker crumbs (approx. 6 graham crackers)
½ cup sliced almonds
1 tbsp sugar
Dash of ground cinnamon
3 tbsp butter, melted
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp key lime zest, finely grated
½ cup fresh key lime juice (juice of 1 lb. key limes)
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a square 8” baking dish with parchment paper cut to fit.
In the container of a food processor, pulse the graham cracker crumbs, sliced almonds, sugar, and cinnamon until finely ground. Add the melted butter and pulse briefly until fully blended. Press the crumb mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared baking pan.
In a mixing bowl, whip the condensed milk, cheese, egg yolks, key lime zest, and key lime juice until smooth. Pour this filling over the crumb crust.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the filling is just set. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Chill for at least 3 hours before serving.
Makes 9 servings.
These are so good. Creamy and decadent, they are the perfect halfway point between sweet and tart.
So this recipe is really pretty easy except for one step. Juicing the key limes. If you found key lime juice at the store, I wouldn't blame you one bit for buying that instead of the actual key limes. To be honest, it is kind of labor intensive to juice all of those limes! They are too small to use a reamer or any other juicing implement, so you just have to use your fingers. They are quite firm so you really have to put some elbow grease into it. And of course, I had a hangnail that tore off earlier that day, which was quite uncomfortable when paired with lime juice! (I got halfway through the juicing process before I remembered that I had a box of plastic food service gloves in the kitchen. If you have those, I recommend using them even if you don't have a hangnail, because if you don't, the skin on your fingers will be all pruney from the juice.) So, if you can find key lime juice in a bottle, by all means, use that. You can still buy the key limes for the zest and garnish, but the bars would be just fine without those two things if you decide not to.
The zest was my addition to the recipe. Lime juice isn't green, so I thought it would be nice to have some kind of green element in there. I think it's really pretty with all the little green flecks running throughout.
I don't have a regular sized food processor, just a small 3-cup one, so I had to adjust how I made the crust. First I ground up the graham crackers, measured out the crumbs, and placed them in a bowl. Then I ground up the almonds and added them to the graham cracker crumbs. Then I sprinkled in the cinnamon and sugar and poured in the melted butter. Then I stirred it all up to thoroughly combine it. This works just as well as doing it all in the food processor at once. I really liked the addition of the almonds with the graham cracker. I wouldn't have thought to do that, but it's really good.
I also didn't do the parchment paper thing. I didn't feel like messing with it, so I just sprayed the pan with the cooking spray that has flour in it (Pam for Baking). They came out just fine for me. If you are making these for a special occasion you might want to use the parchment paper to get perfect little squares. Obviously the serving size will depend on how you cut them. Cutting them into 9 bars makes them a fairly good size, similar to a size you would see at a restaurant, I think. If you are making these for a party (I think they would be food for a baby shower brunch), I would suggest making them a bit smaller than that. You could probably get 16 little bars out of it. Just make sure they have been refrigerated for a good while before you cut them. If you are put off by the crumbly-looking edges in my pic above, don't worry. I cut them before I refrigerated them because I wanted to get a decent pic before it got dark. They will have much smoother edges if they are well chilled before cutting.
We enjoyed this little taste of summer here at the end. It won't be long until you start seeing lots of fall recipes!
Katrina at Baking and Boys chose to make this recipe (along with my Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies) when she was assigned my blog for the Secret Recipe Club in December 2011. Click on the button below to check out her post!
I linked this recipe up at Sweets for A Saturday at Sweet As Sugar Cookies and at the Country Potluck over at Country Cooks Across America.