Just Don’t Call Them Key Lime Squares

February 25, 2008

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After growing up in Minnesota and traveling only so far as Chicago for college, I didn’t expect that my early undergrad days would involve a language barrier. But barely hours into the orientation backpacking trip, I was informed that I said the words “bag” and “boat” wrong. I can only imagine the hilarity that would’ve ensued had I busted out a “yah, sure” or an innocent “you betcha.”

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Many of my other speech idiosyncrasies, according to my new fellow collegians, involved food. Not only did I pronounce several words “wrong” (e.g. bagel), but I also had downright hysterical words for some foods. For instance, the “casserole” is a foreign term in my homeland, where we make hot dishes (which involve at least two cans of cream of mushroom soup per 9×13 inch pan). And then I really had my new friends in stitches when I told them about the great Minnesota treat: bars.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

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Not “treats.” Not “squares.” No, sir, we make bars. There are the cereal variety: Rice Krispies Bars; Special K Bars. And those that feature produce: rhubarb bars; pumpkin bars. And, of course, the “fancy” bars: cheesecake bars; pecan pie bars.

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So, I’m very happy to introduce this recipe for Key Lime Bars into my repertoire. These will definitely make repeat performances in my rotation of baked goods. They’ve got all the best traits of key lime pie—a nearly-crumbly graham cracker crust cradling a velvety, cool, tart custard. But they’ve got the rustic, bite-sized appeal of a bar. It’s a good thing Ms. Stewart called them by their correct name, because I might have been a little conflicted about making key lime squares.

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Key Lime Bars
Martha Stewart Living

1 cup finely ground graham cracker crumbs
2 1/2 tablespoons finely ground graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
2/3 cup fresh Key lime juice , (about 23 Key limes total)
1 cup sweetened condensed milk, (14 ounces)
2 Key limes, thinly sliced into half-moons

Make crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a small bowl. Press evenly onto bottom of an 8-inch square glass baking dish. Bake until dry and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.(Leave oven on.)

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. Reduce speed to medium. Add condensed milk in a slow, steady stream, mixing constantly. Raise speed to high; mix until thick, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add lime juice; mix until just combined.

Spread filling evenly over crust using a spatula. Bake, rotating dish halfway through, until filling is just set, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Refrigerate at least 4 hours (or overnight).

Cut into 2-by-2-inch bars. Garnish bars with whipped cream and a slice of lime.

33 Responses to “Just Don’t Call Them Key Lime Squares”


  1. Oh. My. Goodness.

    Delicious-ness is junpming off your page! I want one!!!

  2. RecipeGirl Says:

    Wow, that’s a lot of lime squeezing you had to do! I’m assuming this was part of your Mexican feast- they look delicious! I made Margarita Cake last year for Cinco de Mayo that had little lime slices on top too- it was rather yummy. (It’s on RecipeGirl.com if you’re interested in that one). Another great post!!

  3. kellypea Says:

    These look really amazing. Great photographs…I can just imagine the flavor.


  4. Anything with lime has my undivided attention – these look divine!
    You can call them whatever you want and I’ll still be begging for some.🙂

  5. Erin Says:

    Gorgeous documentation! I don’t like key lime at all, but these are beautifully presented. I’m sure they were gobbled up in record time.

  6. rachel Says:

    These “bars” look great! Send me some!🙂

  7. michelle Says:

    i’m pretty sure those are “squares” but whatever you call ’em, they look great.

    i love the simplicity of key lime pie. and, of course, i love
    limesd
    .

  8. Deborah Says:

    These are gorgeous! I call these bars as well, but the rice krispie ones are treats!

  9. Zoe Francois Says:

    Hi,

    Great Minnesotan minds think alike! I just had a craving for Key Lime and made a cheese cake. These look great, I’ll try this recipe next time!

    Thanks, Zoë

  10. Allison Says:

    I’m sure Ren is beaming with Pride… as well as nudging mom to whip him up some! They look beautiful!!

  11. Brynn Says:

    You had me at key lime. yum.

  12. JEP Says:

    Beautiful & mouth-watering photos! Bite-size bars…ah, yes…portion contol:)

  13. eggsonsunday Says:

    Oh, wow, these look delicious! I’m going to have to give them a try…beautiful presentation and photos, too.🙂

  14. brilynn Says:

    No matter what you call them they look amazing!

  15. Erica Says:

    I could have wrote this blog. I grew up (and now still live) in the Twin Cities. I attended school at Columbia in Chicago and my college roomate STILL makes me say “bagel” to this day. Great recipe, I can’t wait to make the bars!

  16. allyson Says:

    could you just use the key lime juice instead of all the squeezing?

  17. jeremy Says:

    Yeah, those photos are making me hungry for some bars. Mmmm. I once had a heated discussion about the word for a knit winter hat. We call them “beanies”, Ohioans call them “Toboggans”.

  18. ourkitchensink Says:

    Thank you, everyone!

    Gretchen: Thanks for the tag. I’ll hop to it!

    RecipeGirl: I’ve never loved my citrus reamer more.

    Zoe: Your cheesecake is gorgeous!

    Allyson: I’m sure you’re could use bottled juice, but the recipe does call for freshly-squeezed. Plus, I’m a sucker for using-and-abusing citrus (the more zesting and squeezing involved, the happier I am).

  19. Patti Says:

    They are delicious as well as beautiful “bars”. Thanks for the preview taste!

  20. Kristen Says:

    Wow. Those look fabulous. *adds to ‘to-make’ folder*

    And you’ll be happy to know, in Massachusetts, it’s bars as well.😉

  21. Hairy Weisenheimmer Says:

    Gotta try these this weekend, dontchaknow😉

  22. Jenny P Says:

    The bars look great! Of course 8 months pregnat anything with citrus looks good. I almost peed my pants laughing at the pronounciation of bag, and bagle. It brought back some of the best memories of my college roomate (listed above).

    Thanks for the smile!

  23. ourkitchensink Says:

    Patti: Thanks! You know you guys are always welcome to sneak peeks!

    Kristen: I always knew I like Massachusettsans.

    HW: Well played.

    Jenny P: You’re welcome. Thanks for the comment.

  24. Sara Says:

    Just reading this post on “bars” made me miss my home in North Dakota…just across the river! Every spring, I start to crave lime, lemon, and peach desserts. I am making this for dessert next weekend! Thanks.

  25. Bruce Anderson Says:

    I think I need to make these for tomorrow. We’re having a “dessert supper” for mother’s day, and I know a few folks (OK, me) who’ll enjoy an alternative to the heavy pies and cakes.

  26. Bruce Anderson Says:

    They turned out well, if a bit…ah…POTENT? I think the next time I make these I’ll cut the juice to half a cup and see how that works. I like lime, but I’ve got to drown these in whipped cream to make them edible.😦

  27. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink Says:

    Bruce: So sorry to hear that! I didn’t find them too tart at all. Did you use fresh key lime juice? If not, I wonder if the bottled is more potent?

  28. Pat Says:

    I made these last night for a bis party. Doubled the recipe and put in a 9×13 pan. Didn’t bother with the mixer and just used a whisk. I also used Nellie and Joe’s Key lime juice in the bottle, couldn’t find fresh key limes and this is better than using regular lime juice. Easy and delicious, went over very well. I think next time I will put the pan in the freezer for 15-20 minutes before serving and then cut into smaller bars. Just terrific on a tray with cookies and brownies. Everyone loved the sweet and tart refreshing treat.
    Can’t wait for another party!

  29. elizabeth Says:

    Hi, I know this is months past the post-date, but I had been looking and looking for an easy great recipe for month. It’s my favorite dessert and can’t be found ANYWHERE around here…So, this morning I am making the recipe for the fourth time in as many weeks. It’s so great, completely easy…I can’t ruin it and that’s saying alot…I appreciate you posting it.
    Best,
    Elizabeth


  30. elizabeth: Thank for your note! Glad you liked them.

  31. Lisa Says:

    I am trying this for the first time tonight. Tell me is the second ingredient suppose to be cinnamin?


  32. Lisa: No, it’s finely ground graham crumbs (as opposed to the ground graham crumbs in the first step). I am assuming that this is a texture thing. I would grind up all the crumbs at once, reserve 2 1/2 tablespoons and grind those up a little finer.


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