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Sunday, April 12, 2009

What To Bring for Dessert: Key Lime Squares

Last week, my younger brother asked me to make lemons squares for our family's Easter dinner. It is not everyday this man asks me for something, so I was happy to oblige. Truth be told, I have some residual guilt issues from when we were kids. He is six years younger than me, which is a lifetime when you're under the age of fifteen. Of course, like any little brother, we thought of him as a bit of a pest and a baby. He was always several steps behind following my sister and I around on his bike. Of course, my parents expected that we "watch" him and my dad threatened that we better be nice to our brother because one day he would take care of us. Ha! As if. Of course, we highly doubted that the little ankle biter could one day be in a position to help us outside of the times we conscripted him for spa mud mask nights and to do our household chores.

These days, my brother and I get along quite well. There are no more mud masks but he still does do the occasion household chore. (He shovelled the snow off our driveway during the winter when we were out of town. Yeah, he's a pretty good brother.)

I came across a bag of key limes and decided to modify the recipe a little. Key limes are tiny, tart limes made famous by that fluffy, cloud-like pie of the same name. Key limes are not the easiest to juice especially if you have large, clumsy hands, but a reamer with a pointed end and some patience will help. Of course, my intentions were good but as I juiced lime after tiny lime, I cursed my brother underneath my breath. It took about half an hour to juice enough limes for these squares, but based on the rave reviews I had last night, they were worth it. These key lime bars are smooth, tangy, sweet and crumbly. A perfect ending to a great meal.

Key Lime Squares

1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
4 tbsp butter, melted
1/4c icing sugar
1 tsp lime zest

1/2c + 2 tbsp key lime juice
1 can condensed milk
2 egg yolks

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 8" square baking pan. Place a sheet of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan allowing for a two inch over hang on both sides. (This will facilitate removing the squares from the pan for serving later.)
2. Mix the cookie crumbs, icing sugar, lime zest & melted butter. Mix well and pour mixture (bit by bit) into the prepared pan. Press down firmly and evenly including about half an inch to an inch on the sides. (I have found that I don't use all the crumbs and I prefer less crust to more.)
3. Bake for approximately fifteen minutes until golden. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for at least half an hour or entirely cool.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To make the filling, whisk the egg yolks and condensed milk together until fully incorporated. Add key lime juice and mix well.
5. Carefully pour mixture onto cooled crust, smooth surface with an offset spatula and bake for 20-25 minutes until the filling is set.
6. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. When completely cool, refrigerate until ready to serve.
7. To serve, lift both side of parchment and carefully pull the dessert away from the baking dish. Set on a sturdy cutting board and cut into squares and serve.
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