I’m always on the hunt for new guinea pigs to feed my latest and greatest recipes to. This week, I found some willing volunteers while I was taking a training class for work. I’ve taken training classes for work in the past, so most of the instructors know me by now. And if they don’t know my name, they know me as “that engineer girl that always brings baked goods,” and as far as I’m concerned that’s not a bad reputation to have.
I asked my classmates what sort of dessert they would want to have, and no one had any real opinions or suggestions. So I used my handy dandy Pinterest app to look up potential recipes. It came down to a vote, but we eventually decided on Key Lime Cheesecake Bars. I found the recipe on Confessions of a Cookbook Queen, in a guest post by one of my all-time favorite food bloggers, Heather Baird from SprinkleBakes!
I have to say, I’ve tried many of Heather’s recipes over the years, and I’ve been consistently happy with the results. In fact, her chocolate cake recipe (with delicious American buttercream) is my go-to cake recipe for big parties and events. You can find those recipes in her cookbook, SprinkleBakes.
Now, on to the cooking task at hand! These bars are meant to be made in a 10×10 baking dish. I decided to increase the recipe, since I was planning on feeding a crowd. I multiplied by 1.5 and upgraded to a 9×13 pan. This made my bars a little thicker than the original recipe, but they were still slim enough to be bite sized!
Time to get down to business!
There are three basic steps here. Making lime curd, making the graham cracker crust, and baking the cheesecake. I definitely recommend starting with the lime curd, since it has to cool in the fridge before use. I also found that the original recipe for lime curd was more than enough to make this recipe, so I did not increase the ratios for this portion of the dish.
Lime Curd Notes:
The lime curd recipe calls for just over 1/3 of a cup of lime juice. And, if you’re like me, you have no clue how many limes that is. Google tells me it’s about 5 limes, but I bought 10 just to be sure (they were small anyway). I don’t have a juicer, so I squeezed them all by hand – and if you’re looking for an arm workout, I highly recommend this! It took about 7 hand-squeezed limes to reach the required amount. Not saying Google is wrong (more likely my arms are just weak) but I would recommend buying a few extra limes, just in case. I also ran the juice through a strainer, to catch stray seeds and remove the pulp.
Graham Cracker Crust Notes:
After finishing your lime curd, make sure it’s well covered and place it in the fridge to cool. Next up is the graham cracker crust. This is one of my favorite kitchen tasks, mostly because I just like to beat the crackers with a hammer until they are completely pulverized. You’ll need three cups of crumbs, which is a little over half of a box of graham crackers. Make sure that they are crushed very fine, or else the crust will be crumbly and liable to fall apart. You can use the hammer method like I do, pulse them in a food processor, or just buy the crumbs at the grocery store (but what fun is that?).
Be sure to line your baking pan with parchment paper to prevent headaches later! I always coat my pans with butter, then lay parchment paper down (the butter helps the parchment stick to the pan).
After your crust has baked for the allotted 5 minutes, place the pan on a wire rack to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the cheesecake!
The first step in making the cheesecake is to tint the lime curd green. I used a ratio of 13 green drops and 6 yellow drops. This turned the curd to a crazy neon green, which I was worried about at first, but my fears turned out to be unfounded when the final result was taken out of the oven!
Because I multiplied the recipe by 1.5x, it requires the use of half of an egg white. Of course you could eyeball this measurement, but in case you wanted to get scientific about it, half of an egg white is about 15-20 grams.
After mixing the batter, remove 1.5 cups of it and place into a separate bowl. Pour the rest of the batter onto the cooled crust. Make sure to spread it out evenly across the whole pan.
Mix ¾ cup of the neon-green lime curd with the 1.5 cups of batter you reserved, then spoon it randomly over top of the batter in the pan. Then spoon the remaining 3/8 cup lime curd haphazardly into the pan. You should have globs of neon and muted greens covering most of the white batter. Use a skewer (preferably something more substantial than a toothpick) to swirl the mixture to whatever degree you would like. This creates the desired marbleized effect. I tried to swirl mine enough to make a mostly even surface across the whole cheesecake, but you can swirl any way you want! That’s the beauty of cooking, isn’t it?
Once baked and completely cooled, lift the cheesecake from pan and slice into bars, or triangles, or squares, or ovals, or whatever your heart desires.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did!
- 8 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- ⅓ cup plus 4 Tbsp fresh lime juice (about 7 limes)
- 3 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 12 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 24 ounces (3 bricks) cream cheese, softened
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1½ egg whites (1 egg white plus 15-20g)
- ¾ cup sour cream
- 1½ tsp vanilla
- 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1⅛ cup prepared lime curd, divided
- Liquid green food coloring
- Liquid yellow food coloring
- Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl using an electric mixer. Add the eggs and yolks, one at a time. Pour in lime juice and mix again. The mixture will look curdled, this is normal.
- Pour into a medium skillet and cook over medium heat until the mixture becomes smooth. Increase the heat and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened. If you have a kitchen thermometer, cook to 170° F. If not, cook for 6-8 minutes.
- Remove curd from heat, transfer to a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Cover so that the plastic wrap is touching the surface of the curd; this will prevent a skin from forming. Transfer the curd to the refrigerator to cool.
- Preheat oven to 325° F. Butter or grease a 9x13 baking pan, then line with parchment paper. Mix the butter and graham crackers together and press firmly into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 5 minutes, then remove pan to wire rack and allow to cool completely.
- Remove the lime curd from the refrigerator, tint with the liquid food coloring until neon, lime green. I used 13 green drops and 6 yellow drops to achieve this. Set lime curd aside.
- In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until smooth. Beat in eggs and egg whites on low speed, 1 at a time. Add sour cream and vanilla, then flour, and beat until just blended. Remove 1.5 cups of batter and reserve in a separate bowl. Pour the rest of the batter over the crust. Use a spatula or another utensil to spread the batter evenly in the pan.
- Mix ¾ cup of the lime curd with the reserved batter. Use a spoon to place dollops of this mixture on top of the plain batter in the pan in a random fashion. Then dollop the remaining ¼ + ⅛ cup of lime curd across the previous mixture. Finally, use a skewer (something larger than a toothpick, preferably) to swirl the surface of the cake to the desired degree.
- Bake for 35 minutes at 325° F. Let cool completely in pan, then refrigerate overnight (or at least several hours). Remove from fridge and lift from pan by grabbing parchment paper. Cut into bars (or triangles, or octagons, or zig zags) before serving.