I've had my eye on Nellie and Joe's Key West lime juice for years but had never bought it. Until a week ago. I didn't have a reason for buying it. I wanted to have it, just in case.
Well, the awesome people at America's Test Kitchen must have known I was in the market for a recipe to use it on, so they sent me a link to their Key Lime Bars. Granted, probably a million other people got this link via their newsletter, but I still felt like it was directed at me. And I was co-hosting a baby shower that needed some serious delicious desserts. Perfect.
These bars tasted so fresh and creamy! I loved the addition of cream cheese to the filling. There was just the right amount so that it didn't overpower the lime flavor, and the toasted coconut added such great texture. (You'll just have to imagine my pictures with toasted coconut because I took these pictures before it was added). The perfect summer treat!
Key Lime Bars
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated and Joy of Baking
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1 1/4 c graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 tbsp grated lime zest
pinch table salt
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg yolk
1/2 c fresh lime juice, either Key lime or regular
3/4 c sweetened shredded coconut , toasted until golden and crisp
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut about 12-inch length extra-wide heavy-duty foil; fold cut edges back to form 7 1/2-inch width. With folded sides facing down, fit foil securely into bottom and up sides of 8-inch-square baking pan, allowing excess to overhang pan sides. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.
To make the crust: Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake for about 10 minutes or until set and lightly browned. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool while you make the filling
To make the filling: While crust cools, in medium bowl, stir cream cheese, zest, and salt with rubber spatula until softened, creamy, and thoroughly combined. Add sweetened condensed milk and whisk vigorously until incorporated and no lumps of cream cheese remain; whisk in egg yolk. Add lime juice and whisk gently until incorporated (mixture will thicken slightly).
To assemble and bake: Pour filling into crust; spread to corners and smooth surface with rubber spatula. Bake until set and edges begin to pull away slightly from sides, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Cover with foil and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours.
Loosen edges with paring knife and lift bars from baking pan using foil extensions; cut bars into 16 squares. Sprinkle with toasted coconut, if using, and serve. (Leftovers can be refrigerated up to 2 days; crust will soften slightly. Let bars stand at room temperature about 15 minutes before serving.)