Key Lime Bars

I have a few bar desserts to share. Great for a crowd, party or pot luck event. I have made all of these desserts on more than one occasion! Quite an endorsement. 🙂

These tart, tangy, and sweet bars were fabulous- the crust was absolute perfection. I made them off-season and used bottled Key lime juice. They are a must try with fresh Key lime juice! Fresh Key lime slices would also be a lovely garnish.

This recipe was adapted from the Key lime pie from Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami Beach, via Martha Stewart Living.

Yield: 16 bars

  • 1 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons finely ground graham cracker crumbs (8 full cracker sheets)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • finely grated zest of 1 lime (about 1 1/2 tsp)
  • 2/3 cup fresh or bottled Key lime juice (about 23 Key limes total)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, for garnish, optional
  • 2 Key limes, thinly sliced into half-moons, for garnish, optional
  • confectioner’s sugar, for garnish, optional
  1. Make crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Line a 8-inch square, or equivalent, baking dish with parchment paper, letting it hang over 2 sides.
  2. Using a food processor, pulse graham crackers into fine crumbs.
  3. Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a small bowl. Press evenly onto bottom of the prepared baking dish. (I used the bottom of a dry measuring cup.)
  4. Bake until dry and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. (Leave oven on.)
  5. Make filling: Put egg yolks and lime zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on high speed until very thick, about 5 minutes.
  6. Reduce speed to medium. Add condensed milk in a slow, steady stream, mixing constantly. Raise speed to high; mix until thick, about 3 minutes.
  7. Reduce speed to low. Add lime juice; mix until just combined.
  8. Spread filling evenly over crust using a spatula.
  9. Bake, rotating dish halfway through, until filling is just set, about 10 minutes.
  10. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Refrigerate at least 4 hours (or overnight).
  11. Cut into 2-by-2-inch bars.
  12. Put cream in the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the clean whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Garnish bars with confectioner’s sugar, whipped cream, and/or a slice of lime, as desired.
Note: The bars will keep, wrapped in plastic, in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Strawberry Graham Galette

My husband and I went strawberry picking without the kids this year. I’m so happy that he loves freshly picked strawberries enough to harvest them. 🙂 We brought home nine quarts!

My list of “must make” strawberry recipes seems to keep expanding, so I was lucky enough to have plenty of berries to fulfill the list (links below) and make one new dessert- this delicious galette. I loved the graham cracker crust.

This recipe is from Bon Appétit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. We ate it with vanilla ice cream instead of the lime-flavored whipped cream. Wonderful!

Yield: 8 servings

  • 7 graham crackers (about 3.7 ounces)
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅔ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled, & divided (I melted 6 T and 2 T separately)
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled & sliced
  • 1 lime, zested & juiced, divided
  • ½ cup very cold heavy cream, optional
  • vanilla ice cream, for serving, optional
  1. Place a rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 350°, preferably on convection.
  2. Place graham crackers in a large resealable plastic bag and zip it up, pressing out most of the air. Using a rolling pin, firmly roll over crackers several times, crushing them into fine crumbs (some larger crumbs are okay).
  3. Measure out 1 cup crumbs (which should be almost all of them) and transfer to a medium bowl. Add salt, ⅔ cup flour, and 2 T sugar. Mix with a fork to combine.
  4. Add 1 egg and 6 T melted butter.
  5. Mix with fork until dough forms, then knead with your hands inside of bowl until no floury spots remain and dough is smooth. It’ll be a little soft and slightly oily.
  6. Lightly flour a piece of parchment paper and place dough on top. Lightly flour top of dough, then cover with another piece of parchment or plastic wrap.
  7. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a round (it doesn’t have to be perfect!) about 12″ in diameter and ⅛” thick. (I used this amazing rolling pin that creates an 1/8″ thick crust.)
  8. Slide entire sheet of parchment paper onto a rimmed baking sheet. Remove the top layer or plastic wrap or parchment paper.
  9. Sprinkle 1 T sugar over surface of dough, leaving about a 2″ border.
  10. Pile strawberries into center of dough and arrange in an even layer, leaving the same 2″ border.
  11. Sprinkle strawberries with 1 T sugar and drizzle with remaining 2 T butter.
  12. Using a microplane or fine grater, grate zest of about one-half of lime over strawberries.
  13. Cut off half of lime with no zest and squeeze juice over strawberries. Save the other half for later, if making the whipped cream topping.
  14. Beat remaining egg in a small bowl with fork until no streaks remain. Brush egg wash around border of pastry (you won’t use it all). Using edges of parchment to help lift, fold empty border of dough up and over strawberries, working your way around in roughly 2″ sections, overlapping folds as needed. Press all the way around to secure folds and keep dough in place. It might crack or tear in places, just pinch it back together.
  15. Brush top of border with remaining egg wash and sprinkle with remaining 1 T sugar.
  16. Bake galette until crust is browned around the edges and juices from strawberries are syrupy and actively bubbling, 40–45 minutes. If some juices escape and end up on the parchment paper, the parchment will prevent the tart from sticking.
  17. Let cool at least 20 minutes.
  18. For the Optional Whipped Cream Topping: Beat cream with a large whisk in a medium bowl until voluminous, thick, and starts to hold tracks of whisk. Hold whisk upright and look for the “peak” of cream that forms on the end. It should droop and slump over- making “soft peaks.”
  19. Grate zest from remaining half of lime over cream and serve with tart.

Do Ahead: Tart can be made several hours ahead. Let sit at room temperature. Once fully cooled, droop a piece of plastic over top. (I kept the leftover slices in the refrigerator.)

Essential Freshly Picked Strawberry Recipes (in my house):

Fourth of July S’mores Bars with Marshmallow Meringue

IMG_4822

I love the 4th of July. Love fireworks. Love celebrating with friends. Love all-American desserts and an excuse to make them too! 🙂

This morning we ate breakfast outside listening to Pandora’s Patriotic station courtesy of my son. The music inspired my kids to come in and play patriotic music- my son on the cello and my daughter on the piano. Great! The celebration begins…

But now we may have a new July 4th tradition in my house… this dessert! A graham cracker crust topped with a rich Valrhona chocolate layer and then fluffy (and pretty!) marshmallow meringue- a genius upgrade of all-American s’mores! This recipe was adapted from a Food and Wine “staff-favorite” recipe, contributed by Cheryl and Griffith Day.

I’m sharing this deliciousness at Fiesta Friday #75‘s J & J show this week which I am co-hosting with Julie of Hostess at Heart. Happy Independence Day!!

Yield: 30 bars (or up to 60 bites!)


For the Crust:

  • 3 cups graham cracker crumbs (12 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the Brownie Filling:

  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped (I used Valrhona 71% Cacao Dark Bittersweet Chocolate)
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature (I put in a bowl of warm water)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

For the Meringue:

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

To Make the Crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° (on convection, if possible).
  2. Line a 9-inch-square baking pan with foil, allowing 2 inches of overhang on two sides.
  3. In a medium bowl, using a fork, mix all of the ingredients until evenly moistened. Press the crumbs evenly into 
the bottom of the prepared pan. (I used the bottom of a dry measuring cup.)
  4. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, just until lightly browned. Let cool completely. Leave the oven on.

To Make the Filling:

  1. In a heatproof medium bowl set over 
a saucepan of simmering water, melt the butter with the chocolate over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar, vanilla and salt. Whisk in the eggs until smooth, then stir in the flour until just incorporated. Spread the batter evenly over the cooled crust. Bake for about 22 minutes on convection or up to 25 minutes in a standard oven, until the edge is set but the center is still slightly jiggly. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.

To Make the Meringue:

  1. Preheat the broiler, if using (I used a kitchen torch.).
  2. In a heatproof medium bowl (I used my stand mixer bowl) set over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk the egg whites with the sugar until the whites are warm and the sugar is dissolved, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Transfer the egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk. Add the vanilla and cream of tartar and beat at medium speed until firm.
  4. Increase the speed to high and beat the meringue until stiff and glossy, 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Mound the meringue on top of the filling, swirling it decoratively. Broil the meringue 8 inches from the heat until lightly browned at the tips, about 1 minute. (or use a mini kitchen torch instead.)
  6. Cut into bars and serve.

Note: The bars can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

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Vanilla Bean Birthday Cheesecake

IMG_3532 - Version 2

My husband spends a lot of time planning his birthday dinner menu, but every year I make him a birthday cheesecake. I try a new recipe almost every year. I made this cheesecake last year for the first time and it was the best I’ve ever made. Super creamy with great vanilla flavor. Nothing beats vanilla bean in a cheesecake! 🙂 I have made cheesecakes in the past with various types of crust- we definitely prefer a graham-cracker crust; this one is great. This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. We enjoyed it after a meal of Mustard Chicken with roasted asparagus and baby red potatoes. DELISH.

  • Yield: Makes one 9-inch cake
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups graham-cracker crumbs (about 11 crackers)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Pinch of coarse salt
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a microwave safe dish, melt 5 tablespoons butter. In the bowl of a food processor, chop graham-crackers into crumbs. Then combine graham-cracker crumbs and 1/4 cup sugar. Pulse in melted butter until the crumbs are moist. Pour mixture into a 9-inch springform pan; using the bottom of a dry measuring cup, press firmly, forming a 1/2-inch crust up sides of pan. Bake until set, 10 (convection) to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack.
  2. Reduce temperature to 275 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese until smooth. Slowly add remaining cup sugar. Scrape in vanilla seeds; reserve pod for another use. Beat until well combined, about 3 minutes.
  3. Drizzle in eggs, one at a time, stopping occasionally to scrape down bowl. Beat in sour cream and salt. Pour batter into crust.
  4. Bake cheesecake until sides have set but center appears soft, about 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes, on convection, 1 hour 45 minutes in a conventional oven. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool. Run a paring knife around the outside of crust, loosening it from pan. When cool, cover tightly with plastic; let set at least 4 hours or overnight.

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