YaYa’s in the Kitchen: Key Lime Bars with Shortbread Crust

YaYa’s in the Kitchen: Key Lime Bars with Shortbread Crust

CELEBRATING SUMMER! As promised, I will be sharing recipes which you can easily prepare with your grand/children (no minimum age requirement), can be made with minimal supervision depending on each child’s age & “kitchen” experience, or if you are “sans” children, just for you! I have been baking & cooking, well let’s just say, for a long time. And I have incorporated this into my Speech-Language Pathology services since my early years as an SLP. So here goes, Recipe #2 prepared for a sweltering summer day, July 2015.

What does one bring to a BBQ where dessert is already covered by not one, but two, fabulous chocolate chip cookie ice cream pies?…hmmm, for me the answer had to be based on what was already here in the kitchen and a contrast to the pies to provide an additional dessert.

Okay, let’s think tart-tasting and bite size, but not the Key Lime mini tarts which this group has already enjoyed, something different. Perfect, let’s try a Key Lime Bar, Part I decided.

Now, what kind of crust? Thinking, I realized I always wanted to make shortbread…childhood filled with Lorna Doones in my great-grandmother’s pantry in those special glass jars, Pecan Sandies, a favorite of my Mom’s, and then Trefoils, my choice beginning as a Girl Scout.

Apparently, I was surrounded by shortbread cookies on many fronts but had not yet used the stored recipe tucked in the box. Part II decided.

Ready to check for ingredients and start baking. This recipe is an adaptation of many of my family recipes.

Key Lime Bars with Shortbread Crust Photo: LSG

Key Lime Bars with Shortbread Crust Photo: LSG

Before starting: Set the oven to 350 and prepare your baking pan. This recipe makes PLENTY so be prepared to share or freeze. 

 Tools Needed: 

  1. (2) bowls
  2. Electric hand mixer
  3. Spatula
  4. Measuring cups and spoon
  5. 13 x 9 baking pan (I used glass)
  6. Knives to cut the butter or another kitchen tool
  7. Zester or peeler
  8. Timer
  9. Cooling Rack
  10. Powdered sugar shaker, sifter, or a wire strainer to use as a sifter to dust the top.
  11. Clean hands!

Ingredients & Directions for the shortbread crust  

  • 2 cups of white whole wheat flour (you can use your favorite type)
  • scant 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter or margarine (this time I did not try substituting applesauce for half the butter, maybe next time.)
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 cup of shredded coconut, 1/2 cup of pistachios, pecans, or another nut coarsely chopped
  1. In a bowl, combine the flour and powdered sugar.
  2. Cut in the butter (I usually slice the butter into the flour and then “cut” it in the flour aiming for pea-sized chunks of butter.
  3. Add your optional additional ingredient(s).
  4. I actually used my hands to “cut” (incorporate) the butter more thoroughly into pea-sized pieces spread throughout. Do Not Over Mix!
  5. Press into a prepared (greased/floured or use baking spray) pan 9 x 13. It will stick to your hands or the hands of the helpers!
  6. Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes until lightly golden brown.
  7. Take out of the oven and now go to #5 below.

Ingredients & Directions for the Key Lime filling (updated 12/28/15)

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup slightly rounded of sugar (for tarter flavor) or 1 1/2 cups for sweeter
  • 2/3 – 3/4 cup fresh Key Lime juice (lime juice or bottled Key Lime juice
    • NOTE: Use a lime squeezer, especially to avoid juice stings on invisible cuts & keep the seeds out!!
  • Dash of salt
  • Additional powdered sugar to finish it off after it is baked
  • Optional: 1 tsp lime zest for filling for added tartness, best with the 1/3 cup of juice, and top for decoration, 1/2 cup coconut or 1/2 cup blueberries
  • NOTE: Zest the limes BEFORE you slice & juice them.
  1. Beat the eggs on high until light yellow in color (If your beater is an overachiever with many levels, try a bit lower)
  2. Gradually add the sugar, salt and lime juice (DO NOT add the lime juice too fast or the eggs may react)
  3. Continue beating on high till mixed (DO NOT over mix)
  4. Stir in your optional ingredient(s)
  5. Pour the filling over the hot baked crust
  6. Bake another 20-25 minutes until golden brown. (The top may have bubbles and forms a crust-like topping)
  7. Place on a cooling rack and sprinkle while hot with a dusting (or more) of powdered sugar.
  8. Allow to cool before cutting
  9. Cut into the size bars you prefer
  10. Chill in the fridge or serve at room temperature
  11. Freeze the extra and enjoy straight from the freezer! (A wise man was heard to say, “This is the bomb!” when served a freezer version)

Enjoy and please follow my YaYa’s in the Kitchen Series! 

YaYa (Lori




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