Now that I’m done with this detox, let’s talk about why I had to go on a detox in the first place. It’s officially that point of summer when it’s too hot to even contemplate turning on the stove, much less the oven. So I went ahead and did everyone a favor, making a no-bake dessert that is so friggin’ good I couldn’t stop eating it, thus sending me into a no-sugar-no-dairy-no-gluten tailspin.
But seriously. Let’s talk about these no-bake macadamia key lime pie bars. I’m pretty sure my first and last exposure to key lime pie had too much to do with lime jell-o and was weirdly green and just bad. But when I was home a few weeks ago, my parents had a huge bag of key limes, which are smaller and more acidic than regular Persian limes, and all I could think about was recreating this Florida dessert staple.
Traditional key lime pie is made with a graham cracker crust, sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks and plenty of key lime juice (often with a meringue topping). While that sounded intriguing, there was that whole “oh my gahhh it’s hot and what do you mean you’re going to turn on the oven” thing, so I sought out a no-bake version instead. Alyssa at The Recipe Critic had a gorgeous version with the added bonus of macadamia nuts, and I took her macadamia key lime pie and transformed it into macadamia key lime pie bars because my god do I love a good bar cookie.
These bars use a shortbread cookie and macadamia nut base, then a filling of cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk and key lime juice. Topped with clouds of whipped cream and more chopped nuts, they are dreamy and light, cool and refreshing, their mouth-puckering tartness cut with a bit of sweet. The fact that they require little effort, no oven time and are pretty portable might make them the perfect summer dessert, especially for picnics and barbecues. But then you’d have to share and … #notintothat.
No-Bake Macadamia Key Lime Pie Bars
Adapted from The Recipe Critic
– 1-1/4 cups crushed shortbread cookies
– 1/2 cup finely chopped + 1/3 cup coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
– 1/3 cup butter, melted
– 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
– 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
– 1/2 cup key lime juice (I needed 13 limes for this) or regular lime juice
– 1 cup heavy whipping cream
– grated lime zest, optional
1) Butter an 11-x-7-inch baking pan. Mix the cookie crumbs and macadamia nuts together in the pan, then add the melted butter. Mix well, then press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Freeze for 30 minutes.
2) Using a handheld mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sweetened condensed milk and lime juice, and beat until blended, 2-4 minutes. Pour the filling onto the crust in an even layer. Freeze, covered, for 3 hours.
3) In a large bowl, beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Spoon the whipped cream on top of the key lime pie bars. Scatter the remaining macadamia nuts, then grate the lime zest on top (if desired). Refrigerate for 15 minutes, then serve.