Tomorrow is our labs annual cookoff. Everyone in my lab cooks something and we serve it to the department and they judge us on presentation and taste. I got stuck bringing a dessert dish. The food has to be homemade and feed at least 35 people. And did I mention I don’t feel like baking? (I feel nauseous and food is the last thing on my mind.) Last year I went all out and made Italian tortes with honey, apples, and lemon zest. A couple of months ago I baked 3 carrot-pineapple cakes to be sold at a bake sale to raise money for my grad group. Each piece was sold for 50c!? (They could have gone for $1.50 but whatever.) Needless to say, we sold out in about an hour and made over $30. Anyway, I’m done with spending time (and money) on my coworkers. So I settled on key lime bars. Because I was too lazy to make gram cracker crust, I poured the filling into pre-made (gasp) pie molds and called it a night. (And hopped on the interwebs to blog about it.) Including baking time, I finished in under an hour. =) And I ended up with four pies: 3 for work and 1 for my underfed and underloved bf J.
This recipe doesn’t look like much but it well worth making. I would definitely stick to its intended use: bars. Topped with coconut, whipped cream, or just eaten plain, they make a perfect dessert or afternoon snack.
***********Key Lime Bars from America’s Test Kitchen
The recipe can be found on the website. I also copied and pasted it below.
They are best with fresh lime juice. But once again, the laziness factor… Woops, I forgot to photograph the limes I used for zest.
OUT OF THE OVEN, COOLING
DECORATION IN PROGRESS…
Makes sixteen 2-inch bars
5 ounces animal crackers
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar (light or dark)
Pinch table salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly
2 ounces cream cheese , room temperature
1 tablespoon grated lime zest , minced
Pinch table salt
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup fresh lime juice , either Key lime or regular
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut , toasted until golden and crisp
Building Key Lime Bars
1. 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.
2. TO MAKE THE CRUST: In workbowl 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.
3. 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).
4. 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.
5. 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.)