Awhile ago I was at the grocery story and needed one lime, but all they had were bags of limes. So I thought to myself, when life gives you limes, make dessert. I also happened to have graham crackers and some cream cheese, and thus was born the idea of a key lime style cheesecake bar.
Key lime pie is a ridiculously simple dessert that is basically sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, and a binder. I usually add sour cream to my key lime pies, but because I was making bars instead of a pie, I used cream cheese instead to add a slightly fluffier, more cheesecake-like texture.
I also threw in some eggs to act as a binder.
For the crust, I wanted to add other flavors so it wasn't just plain Graham crackers. (Fun fact: Graham crackers were invented by a minister because he thought bland food would suppress our sinful natures. The crackers we eat today are sweeter than what the good minister originally created, but still, no one has ever said, "These Graham crackers are bursting with flavor!") Lime goes beautifully with coconut and ginger, so I added ground ginger and shredded coconut to the crust to bring in some of those tropical flavors.
These bars are suuuuuper simple to make, and are a perfect summertime treat to take to a picnic or keep all to yourself.
Key Lime Pie Bars:
1 sleeve Graham crackers
3 T butter melted
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 c shredded coconut
1 T lime zest (or 1 lime)
1-14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c lime juice (about 6-8 limes)
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9x9 baking dish.
Put one sleeve of Graham crackers in a ziplock and crush with a rolling pin (or crushing utensil of your choice).
Put the crumbs in a bowl with the ginger, coconut, and the melted butter, and mix to combine.
You want the mixture to look crumbly and moist like Parmesan cheese, like this:
Dump your crust mixture into the prepared baking dish and press into an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes until it's golden, and then remove from oven and set aside.
While your crust bakes, put your cream cheese, eggs, lime zest, and condensed milk in a large bowl.
Beat with a hand mixer or your very strong arms. If you are having trouble getting the lumps out of the cream cheese, you can smooth the batter in a blender.
Juice the limes til you have half a cup of juice.
It will probably take 6-8 limes, depending on the juiciness of the limes. Add to the cream cheese mixture and stir to combine.
Pour the filling onto the crust, and if necessary, very gently jiggle the pan to even out the filling.
Bake for 20 minutes until the bars are set and just starting to brown around the edges.
Another way to tell they are down is little bubbles will appear on the surface of the bars.
Cool to room temperature and then chill for at least one hour before serving.
Tip: If you are trying to take artsy pictures of your finished key lime bars, don't let the condensation from your covering drip onto the bars.... Don't worry, they still taste delicious!