Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Splash of Summer

I love limes - the color, the flavor, the freshness. Their taste and smell definitely remind me of summer. I like lemons too, but prefer the flavor in savory dishes rather than in desserts (unlike my mom who is in love with Ina Garten's lemon cake and any other lemon dessert). I saw a bag of key limes in the grocery store the other day and just feel the need to take a break from winter's heavy food for something lighter. I usually try not to buy too many non-local produce items but it is so rare that we see key limes in our stores, I had to go for it.

Key limes are smaller in size (foreground in above photograph) than the more commercially-available Persian limes and tend to be more tart in flavor. Wikipedia has informed me that regular Persian limes became more popular in the United States after key lime orchards in the Florida Keys were wiped out by a hurricane in 1926 (Persian lime orchards took a subsequent hit by Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and now, most limes are imported to the US via Mexico).

This recipe is for a great lime square - similar to a lemon bar, except these are topped with a streusel-like crumb topping. Great as a snack. I even substituted 1/2 the white flour for whole wheat flour and could not tell the difference. I will say that juicing the key limes is a definite labor of love :) if you are crunched for time, use regular limes. It took me the entire bag of key limes to get the needed 1/2 cup of juice.

I really love this recipe, but it got mixed reviews on Cooking Light - likely because these bars are not super-sweet; they do have more of a tart flavor due to the key lime juice. If that is not what you are looking for, definitely go with the milder limes.

Streusel-topped Key Lime Squares (adapted from Cooking Light)


Cookie & streusel
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
1/8 teaspoon salt object
1/8 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
Cooking spray

2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup fresh key lime juice
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon powdered sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Place first 5 ingredients in a bowl and beat with a mixer at medium speed until creamy (about 2 minutes). Lightly spoon 1 cup flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Gradually add flour to butter mixture, beating at low speed until mixture resembles coarse meal.

3. Gently press two-thirds of mixture (about 1 1/3 cups) into bottom of an 8-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray; set remaining 2/3 cup flour mixture aside (will be used later as the streusel topping). Bake at 350° for 12 minutes or until just beginning to brown.

4. Combine 2/3 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, baking powder, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add lime juice and eggs, stirring until smooth. Pour mixture over crust and bake at 350° for 12 minutes.

5. Remove pan from oven (do not turn oven off); sprinkle remaining 2/3 cup flour mixture evenly over lime mixture. Bake an additional 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Remove from oven; cool in pan on a wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.


Katy said...

gorgeous photos, and yum! i especially love the photo of the juiced-out limes -- they look like little flower blossoms!

have to say, though, i am shocked that the recipe doesn't call for any lime zest. is there something about key limes that make them not as good for zesting? seems like such a waste to use that many limes, and no added punch of flavor with the zest!

KayKat said...

Whoa! You went through a lot of limes there :)

This looks delicious, I might try it with Meyer lemons instead - more of a sweet+tang flavour.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Jade, I would love to try this recipe. Limes are a hit here in Brazil - we don't use lemons much, we pretty much use limes instead for everything. :)

Deborah Dowd said...

These sound wonderful to me and I love the tar, rather than too sweet flavor. Can't wait to try this myself.