I know that you purists out there might be rolling your eyes and gagging at the thought of bottled key lime juice but in my defense, I have never seen fresh key limes up here in central New York, so... a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do for that distinctively tart sensation. I can't haul myself down south to pick some up, so I'm afraid that my next best bet is bottled juice.
Then, I thought, what to make? I didn't really feel like pie, so I thought I'd try making key lime bars using my standard recipe for lemon bars. These are exceptionally tart, which I happen to like. I don't care for lemon/lime bars which are too sweet - what makes them a refreshing treat to me is their eye-opening tartness.
TweetKey Lime Bars
For the shortbread base:
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar (or 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the custard:
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup key lime juice
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In a food processor process the butter, confectioner's sugar, flour and salt until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs and can hold together when pressed up against the side of the food processor bowl.
- Sprinkle the crumb mixture into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan and press down onto the bottom of the pan as evenly as possible. If necessary, flatten it with the flat blade of a sturdy spatula, smoothing it out.
- Bake the shortbread crust about 20 minutes, until it starts to turn golden.
- While the shortbread is baking, prepare the custard.
- In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and granulated sugar. Stir in key lime juice and flour, mixing very well with a whisk.
- Pour the custard mixture over the hot shortbread.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F and bake until it is set, about 30 minutes.
- Let it cool completely in the pan, then sift some confectioner sugar over bars before cutting and serving.