We are all stuck in our homes…some of us in warm and tropical locations…but for others (myself included) we are (im)patiently waiting for spring, temperatures over 60 degrees and some vitamin D! Instead, we get late spring snow showers and chilly weather. To infuse some spring spirit into my household, I decided to make something tropical! I know that some pantry items are in low supply/high demand, so I wanted to try and make something that didn’t require flour or white sugar. Queue this Key Lime Bar recipe!
I love this recipe because it features an animal cracker crust which is a little lighter and crunchier than a traditional graham cracker crust.
Key Lime Bars (courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen)
5 oz animal crackers
3 tbsp packed brown sugar (light or dark, whatever you have)
pinch of table salt
4 tbsp butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 tbsp grated lime zest
pinch of table salt
1 (14-oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (Key Lime or regular)
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut about 12-inch length extra-wide heavy-duty foil (HINT: I didn’t have heavy-duty foil, so I doubled up regular ol’ tin 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: In work bowl of food processor, pulse animal crackers until broken down, about ten 1-second pulses; process crumbs until evenly fine, about 10 seconds (you should have about 1 1/4 cups crumbs). Add brown sugar and salt; process to combine, ten to twelve 1-second pulses (if large sugar lumps remain, break them apart with fingers). Drizzle butter over crumbs and pulse until crumbs are evenly moistened with butter, about ten 1-second pulses. Press crumbs evenly and firmly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake until deep golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling. Do not turn off oven.
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 lime zest if you’d like 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.)