I first made these as part of a Key West-themed dinner party menu, but since then, I've made them a million times.
Why? First there is the shortbread cookie base, which succeeds in being buttery without being greasy and also has a nice snap at the edges while also having a little give that your teeth can sink into. (I hate bar cookies that shatter or crumble on first bite.)
The real star, though, is the key lime topping. I love the tart flavor of the key limes and how its perky citrus flavor seems made for the layer of airy, crackly meringue. Depending on how big you cut them, these bars can be both light one-bite treats or more substantial bar cookies. Perfect for a spring that's bound to be filled with warm weather picnics and parties.
Adapted from Down Home With the Neelys: A Southern Family Cookbook.
- Active time: 15 minutes
- Total time:1 hour
- For The Crust:
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- For Key Lime Topping:
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup plus two tablespoons key lime juice
- 2 teaspoons grated key lime zest
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 by 13 inch baking pan
In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add salt and flour and beat until well combined, about one minute. Dough will be slightly sticky. Dip your hands in flour then press dough evenly across bottom of baking pan. Bake until crust is just turning golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let crust cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl, beat together eggs and sugar until well combined, about two minutes. Beat in flour until evenly incorporated, then lime juice and zest. Pour topping over cooled crust.
Bake until the key lime mixture is set, about 25 minutes. The filling will continue to set as it cools. Let bars cool completely before cutting in squares.