KEY LIME BARS
- 5 oz. animal crackers
- 3 Tbsp. packed light or dark brown sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 Tbsp. grated lime zest (avoid the bitter white pith when grating)
- Pinch of salt
- 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 cup Key lime or fresh lime juice
- (DO NOT USE BOTTLED, use about 20 key limes or 3 Persian Limes)
- Garnish (optional)
- 3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, allowing the extra foil to hang over the edges of the pan. Lightly coat the foil-lined pan with vegetable cooking spray.
For the crust: Process the animal crackers in a food processor until finely ground, about 10 seconds (you should have about 1 1/4 cups crumbs). Add the brown sugar and salt and pulse to combine. Drizzle the butter over the crumbs and pulse until the crumbs are evenly moistened with the butter, about ten 1-second pulses. Press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until deep golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool the crust on a wire rack while making the filling. Do not turn off the oven.
For the filling: While the crust cools, combine the cream cheese, zest, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the condensed milk and whisk until incorporated and no lumps of cream cheese remain; whisk in the yolk. Add the lime juice and whisk gently until incorporated (the mixture will thickn slightly).
To assemble: Pour the filling into the cooled crust and smooth with a spatula. Bake until set and the edges begin to pull away slightly from the sides, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, 1 to 2 hours. Cover with foil and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours.
Loosen the edges with a paring knife and remove from pan by lifting the foil extensions. Using a chef's knife, cut into 16 squares. Sprinkle with the toasted coconut, if desired.
The bars can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days (The crust will soften slightly.) Let the bars stand at room temperature about 15 minutes before serving.
Makes 16 bars