I haven’t made a lot of bar cookies on this blog, and I’m not sure why. They’re easy, delicious, and comforting, which describes a lot of the things I bake. But I’ve been a little obsessed with this bag of limes that I picked up on a whim at Giant last week (some of which have already appeared in my lime scones), and I decided that it was bar cookie time. Specifically, lime bar time.
I’ve been mulling over the idea of lime bars for quite awhile – a sweet and tart, creamy filling spread over a crunchy graham cracker crust sounded incredibly enticing. I looked through many lime bar recipes before settling on this one from Cook’s Illustrated, which uses sweetened condensed milk and a little bit of cream cheese for the filling. While the recipe originally calls for key limes, I substituted regular limes, and still found these lime bars absolutely delicious. The recipe also calls for animal crackers for the crust, which I thought was simply wrong – I used graham crackers instead.
The only bad thing about these lime bars is that I couldn’t stop eating them, which is a testament to their deliciousness. Usually I don’t have this problem with things that I bake – tasting and testing them kills my desire to eat them. But the salty, sweet, crunchy, citrusy combo of these lime bars defied all my will power. Needless to say, they’re all gone now. I don’t need to tell you how.
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
Makes sixteen one-inch squares
For the crust
5 oz graham crackers
3 tbs packed light or dark brown sugar
4 tbs (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
For the filling
2 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tbs grated lime zest
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (do not use bottled)
Preheat your oven to 325 °F.
Butter a 8 by 8 inch square baking pan and line the bottom with a strip of well-buttered foil (use enough foil so that it overhangs the sides – you will use the overhang to lift the finished lime bars out of the pan).
Place the graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until they are ground into fine crumbs. Add the brown sugar, salt, and melted butter and pulse until combined and all the crumbs are moistened. Pat the crumb mixture evenly and firmly into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the crumbs are golden brown.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese with lime zest and salt until combined. Add the condensed milk and beat until incorporated- there should be no lumps of cream cheese remaining. Add the egg yolk and mix until combined. Add the lime juice and mix until evenly combined.
Pour the filling over the crust, using a spatula to spread the filling evenly. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the filling is set. Let bars cool in the pan on a rack until room temperature – about 1 hour. Place in fridge and let chill for 2 hours before serving. To serve, lift the bars out of the pan using the foil and cut into 16 squares.