Are you dreaming of a cool, refreshing dessert to counterbalance summer’s heat and humidity? The tangy, tropical twist of key lime pie bars just may be the exhilarating flavor you’re craving.
Katy Lentz, who became the coordinator for mission education for the St. Cloud Mission Office last March, served them at a recent diocesan event alongside her luscious lemon bars. Quite different from each other, both of these citrusy desserts tasted bright and summery.
I recently made Katy’s key lime pie bars and admit that obtaining the aromatic, tart juice of the diminutive key limes is more labor intensive than juicing fewer standard-size limes but it’s definitely worth the work for their bold, distinctive taste.
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
6 tbsp. butter, melted
1/3 cup granulated sugar
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup key lime juice
2 tbsp. key lime zest
Key lime and/or lemon zest (optional)
Powdered sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray an 8-inch or 9-inch square pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper.
Combine graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar in a small bowl. Press mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to firmly pack it together.
Bake the graham cracker crust at 375°F for 7 minutes. Remove crust from oven and fully cool.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Whisk sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, key lime juice and zest together in a medium bowl. Pour over cooled crust and bake at 350°F for 25 minutes. Chill the bars before serving.
To serve, sprinkle with additional zest or dust with powdered sugar, if desired, before cutting bars. (Store the bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)
Yield: 16 bars
A note from Katy:
I’ve been making these bars for about 10 years — they are super easy and fail-proof. If I can make them, anyone can.
Notes from Carol:
I purchased a two-pound bag of Mexican key limes. There were 38 in the bag. I found that 12 of them produced one-half cup of juice. I baked three pans of bars — one to give away, one to share at work and one to freeze for later. An 8-inch square pan yields 16 two-by-two-inch bars. (The bars can be cut smaller — their unique flavor is robust.)
Before starting at the Mission Office, Katy had 11 years of experience in education and parish ministry with children, youth, young adults and adults through faith formation, youth ministry, RCIA and the Central Minnesota TEC program. She worked at St. Andrew Parish in Elk River, St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Ramsey, Minnesota, and Mary of the Visitation in Big Lake and Becker. Katy and her husband, Mike, are the parents of five children.