Key Lime Pie Bars

Tomorrow is Independence Day holiday. It sucks because it falls on the middle of the week this year, so no trip planned for this time. Besides, the weather is now a bit odd. I would expect mid 80s to low 90s by this time of the year but it has been staying around 75 F - 80 F, at the most. For some of you it might be the perfect weather, and it is, but I just want a few hot days and cool breeze at night. Here in northern California, no matter how warm the daytime is, you will most likely need a jacket at night.

I am not going to post any Independence Day post today. I am having a small 4th of July dinner tomorrow though. It is only 3 people (including me) but it might be one of the most difficult menu planning ever. One eats whatever (me), M is a real picky eater who loves bread and carbs, but has developed an allergy toward steak (more like food poisoning symptoms everytime he eats steak. Go figure), no seafood, no spicy, no veggie (except artichoke), among many things. J however will eat anything, but he is on a carb diet. There is no grill available, so it will have to be a sit-down, indoor kind-of dinner, which is fine, if I have a set of menu planned that will satisfy everyone. In the end, I have decided on a menu, everyone will just have to sacrifice a bit, it is impossible to make everyone happy.

Moving on o the non-4th of July topic, today's post is somewhat nostalgic to me. This dessert is one of the first desserts I made over and over during my college years, when I was just starting to get interested into the baking world. I started cooking before baking and I still cook, just not as much as baking and not as fancy :). When I first started baking, the desserts I made over and over again includes brownies, lemon meringue pie, and key lime pie. These three are the most frequent desserts I made. Cheesecakes and muffins are probably the second most frequent ones. I can't even begin to count how many different recipes I tried to find out which one I liked best for each dessert type.

There are a lot of variation on brownies and lemon pie, but there seems to be one recipe for key lime pie. I have read so many blogs and recipes online and most of them are still using the same classic recipe, which is also what I used a long time ago. I still remember when I would go to the computer lab in between classes and I would browse foodnetwork website for many many recipes of different kinds of lemon meringue pie and brownies. Foodnetwork was pretty much the only website I knew back then. I wasn't introduced to blog yet (I was a bit late in this game). Then I would print them and "studied" them at home, and eventually, made each one of them. I would put some notes on all of the observations I saw for future reference. Ah... the old times... I still have the binder that contains these print outs. I also have the same thing for cooking binder, they are all categorized based on categories (for example, brownies, lemon pie, cookies, cakes, etc).

Fast forward 5-6 years after, now I rarely make classic American desserts like this. My interest has been shifted to French pastry, entremets, and all that. It is a challenge for me and there is a satisfaction whenever you make somewhat complicated cake and it would come out just the way you wanted (or better!). I still make brownies quite often, but that's pretty much the only thing that I would bake as far as the classic American dessert goes. I moved from lemon meringue pie to Pierre Herme fancy lemon tart, from plain cheesecake to all different kinds of flavors, methods, textures, you got the point. But once in a while, all I wanted is just a plain good old dessert like this key lime pie.

Key limes are available all year round in Asian grocery stores. It comes in a bag with probably 20 of them inside. They are more tart and more fragrant than its cousin limes. in Indonesian cooking, we actually use them more for cooking instead of baking.

So I got myself a bag of this a few weeks ago and I only used 3 of them for cooking. I was left with the rest of them, waiting to be used up soon and I finally did. Juicing and zesting them will take longer then regular lemons or limes, but it is so worth it. I LOVE the smell of any kind of citrus in my kitchen. This pie also uses condensed milk, which I use a lot for my baking and for making avocado smoothie. When I was a kid, I used to stick my fingers inside and lick them, it is so good!

I made the pie into bars instead of one big pie so that I can portion it better and can serve it easier than the wedges. Nothing fancy for the decoration, all I did was serving this up with sweetened whipped cream on top. I used 8" square cake ring to bake this and I had to multiplied the filling by 1.5 to get a decent height. I am writing this recipe in its original measurement.

Key Lime Pie

The Crust
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • Preheat oven to 325 F
  • Mix all ingredients together and press it against 8-9" round pie pan, up to the sides. 
  • Bake the crust for about 12 minutes (or until fragrant and slightly brown)
  • Let cool
  • Leave the oven on at 325 F
The Filling
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup fresh key lime juice
4 tsp. key lime zests
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
  • Whisk the egg yolks and the zest together for a few minutes until the color turns green a little. You don't need to incorporate too much air into it.
  • Add the condensed milk, mix together
  • Lastly, pour in the key lime juice, mix well.
  • Pour this mixture onto the cooled crust and bake for 15-20 minutes
  • Let cool on a cooling rack and refrigerate until firm (overnight)
  • Serve with sweetened whipped cream


UJTR said...

i am soooo glad you are back. I have been reading your blog for a while now really missed it during your time away last year. You are so creative and the images of your beautiful patisserie are so inspiring. You should consider starting a business or writing a book. I only wish you would post more frequently but completely understand how time consuming it all is.

Bertha said...

Coconilla: Thanks! I am planning to post more frequently. In fact, I am so proud that now I have made 3 draft posts to post soon :)

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