Key lime pie might seem exotic due to its tropical origins and bright perfumey flavor. But like the humble Tollhouse cookie, it’s an American classic that ranks high on most people’s favorites-list. And like that unintimidating little fail-safe, the Tollhouse cookie, key lime bars can be incredibly quick and simple to prepare. God bless America.
Key limes are more tart and bitter than Persian limes so they really pack the pucker. It is also an act in mild masochism to juice them. The secret to my key lime effortlessness is a store bought product available in most markets, called Nellie & Joe’s. As a fresh-food-enthusiast, it is with a whiff of shame that I confess to relying on a packaged concentrate. But it’s a consistent product and it’s available without preservatives. So leave the reamer in the drawer, get a manicure, keep your rings on, and make some plans for the afternoon, because this recipe is the stuff that retro cookout dreams were made of.
Key Lime Coconut Bar Recipe
makes 28 2” bars, or 1 9”x13” pan
These bars are rich, so I cut 4 pieces by 7 pieces from a 9”x13’ pan, as opposed to my usual 4 by 6 for that pan size. I also like to use salted butter in this crust. You can use what you like.
crust (adapted from Barefoot Contessa Parties!):
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350F.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the coconut and flour and continue to slowly beat until everything is well combined.
Turm to the dough out into the pan and press it into a smooth even layer.
Bake for 28-32 minutes until the crust is golden brown.
Remove crust from oven and allow pan to cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes.
Leave the oven.
filling (adapted from the Nellie & Joe’s key lime juice bottle):
1 cup key lime juice
6 egg yolks
2 14oz cans sweetened condensed milk
Whisk all ingredients together and pour the filling over the cooled crust.
Bake in a 350F oven for 15 minutes. Remove bars from oven and allow them to cool for 10 minutes on a cooling rack before putting them in the refrigerator.
When bars are thoroughly chilled, cut them into squares.
Can be made 2 days in advance.
*Be sure to prepare this filling just at the moment you are about to put it into the crust. If you combine the ingredients even a bit ahead of time, the sugar and citrus will begin to cook the yolks, and the filling will begin to set in the bowl.