Key Lime Pie is all about the layers. A layer of crust, a layer of lime curd, and a heaping layer of whipped cream. What more could you want? Well, all of the right ingredients first.
Back in April when groceries were still sparse, I attempted to make a key lime pie for my brother’s birthday. What sounded like an easy task turned out to be a curdled mess.
I didn’t have all of the ingredients and tried my best to make some substitutions. Turns out that swapping evaporated milk for sweetened condensed milk isn’t the same thing, even when following a recipe about the right subs to make.
After a curdled mess, I put the pie on hold until I could get the proper ingredients. Fast forward a few months later, I had all of the proper ingredients to give the dessert another shot. This time around, nothing was curdled, and the layers were all pretty irresistible.
After the pie debacle, I opted to make key lime pie bars. Even though I ditched the pie, I still went with the same classic formula for the dessert. A layer of crust, curd, and whipped cream. So, let’s talk about those layers.
The bottom layer of the key lime pie bars started with a graham cracker and Nilla Wafer mix. Next, the was the lime layer. I opted to use regular limes instead of key limes. Key limes can be difficult to find and regular limes tend to give off a similar enough flavor. Sure, you could use the juice from a bottle, but it tends to be super sweet and has a bunch of extra sugar in it. The zest and juice from a fresh lime work just as well and keeps the curd from being overly sweet. Finally, the layer of whipped cream. Now if you are short on time, you could use store-bought whipped cream. However, fresh and homemade whipped cream pushes the bars to the next level.
The Key Lime Pie Bars don’t take long to make. However, they do require some time in the fridge in order to get the layers to stay together. While it might be annoying to wait, it will be well worth it.
While Key Lime is a pretty classic flavor, these bars could definitely be made with any other citrus. Just think lemon curd or blood oranges in the winter.
Check out the recipe below! Hopefully, you won’t have any trouble finding all the ingredients!
- 2 cups crushed vanilla wafer cookies
- 1 cup crush graham cracker
- 5 tbsp melted butter
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened
- 4 large egg yolks
- 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
- zest of lime
- 1/2 cup lime juice
- 1 pint heavy whipping cream
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 4- 6 tbsp powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare an 8x8 baking dish with parchment and set aside.
- In a food processor, blend the vanilla wafers and graham crackers until they resembled a sandy texture. Once combined slowly add the melted butter. The cookies should come together, but still be sandy.
- Add the cookie mixture to the pan and press firmly to form an even crust. You can do this using the bottom of your palms, or with an additional piece of parchment. You want the crust to be flat and even. If the crust looks a little too sandy, you can add in more melted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Place the pan with the crust in the oven while you make the filling. The crust should cook about 10-12 minutes and should start to turn a golden brown.
- Make the filling. In a medium-sized bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the cream cheese until it is fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the egg yolks and beat until combined. Next, add in the sweetened condensed milk, lime zest, and lime juice. Beat all ingredients together until combined. Pour the mixture over the crust and place back in the oven. Bake the bars for about 16-18 minutes, or until the edges of the bars start to turn a golden brown.
- While the bars are cooling, make the whipped cream. In a medium-sized bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, add the heavy whipping cream. Beat on low until bubbles start to form, then increase the speed of the mixer to medium-high. Beat the mixture until stiff peaks start to form. Once the peaks are formed, add in the vanilla and half of the powdered sugar. Beat for about another minute, or until your desired texture is formed. Gradually fold in the remaining powdered sugar until the desired sweetness is reached. Place whipped cream in the refrigerator to chill until needed.
- Once the bars are cooled, let them cool completely, for about 30 minutes. Once they are completely cool, place the bars in the refrigerator to chill for 2 hours. You can also chill the bars overnight.
- Once the chilling process is complete, add the whipped cream. You may have to mix the whipped cream for a minute or so if it fell during the chilling process. Top bars with a heaping spoonful of whipped cream and smooth until flat. Place the bars back in the fridge to chill for an hour.
- Once the chilling is complete, take the bars out and cut into small squares. Store the bars in an air-tight container in the fridge. They should last for about 1 week.