06 May 2011

Double Take: Key Lime Bars with Graham-Cracker Pistachio Crust

Key Lime Bars with Pistachio Graham-Cracker Crust
Photo courtesy of Holly Ballenger

Remember my disastrous lemon meringue pie? Remember the solution recipe I gave you? Well, take the delicious lemon pie, make it lime, put it in a different crust (rectangular rather than pie-shaped) and you get Lime Bars with Pistachio Graham-Cracker Crust. Many thanks to Culinary in the Country for bringing this recipe to my attention!

This recipe was so close to my lemon meringue pie recipe that I knew it had to be good. I've frequently turned my lemon meringue pies into key lime meringue pies, so I knew the lime would be perfect. And adding pistachios to the crust? Oh my. I love graham-cracker crusts, I love pistachios. Match made in heaven! And so darn easy to make! Just read the directions before you start or things will take longer than needed.

Things to remember before you start cooking:
1. You need to melt butter before you start!
2. The crust has to bake (8-12 min) and cool (30 min) before you put the filling together. 

very minimally adapted from Martha Stewart (check out the video too!)

For the crust:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup shelled pistachios (salted works well even though the guy on the video will tell you otherwise)
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh grated lime zest

For the filling:
2 large egg yolks
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (I used bottled key lime juice… and said oops as I poured in an extra ¼ cup)

To prepare the crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush an 8-inch square baking dish (see note below) with melted butter. Line bottom with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides.

In a food processor, finely grind pistachios with graham-cracker crumbs, sugar, and zest. Blend in butter. Press mixture into bottom and 1 inch up sides of prepared pan. Bake until lightly browned, 8 to 12 minutes. Cool crust, 30 minutes.

To make the filling:
In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and condensed milk. Add lime juice; whisk until smooth. Pour filling into cooled crust; carefully spread to edges.

Bake until set, about 15 minutes. Cool in pan on rack; then chill at least 1 hour before serving. Using parchment paper overhang, lift out of pan, and transfer to a cutting board. With a serrated knife, cut into 16 squares, wiping knife with a damp kitchen towel between each cut. Add 3 shelled pistachios to each piece before serving. To store in refrigerator, cover with plastic wrap.

My note: I originally put the crust into and 8x8 pyrex glass dish, but it was too small to hold the crust well. I switched to an 8x8 cake pan and it fit perfectly. 

Cook's Note from Martha
LINING THE PAN Cut parchment 8 inches wide and at least 12 inches long. Place parchment in buttered pan (butter will hold paper in place) so it hangs over the sides. This will help you lift the bars out easily.

The crust just out of the oven? You're gonna have a heavenly smell! 

Look at that beautiful crust!
Photo courtesy of  Holly Ballenger 

I didn't read the recipe immediately before I started making it because I'd read it several times before. Oops. Culinary in the Country had the butter listed last in the ingredient list because that's the order in which it is added. However, because I didn't read through the ingredients first I ended up with everything in the food processor and then had to stop to melt and cool the butter. Quite annoying. So I rewrote the ingredient list, only to figure out that it was the order in which the recipe was written by Martha Stewart. Oh well. When that woman is on, she is on.

Overall, the recipe is super easy to throw together and makes a great light dessert for the spring and summer. I served this for Easter and it was the perfect end to our meal on the screened-in porch. For those who were too chicken to try it, we had macerated strawberries with pound cake and vanilla ice cream. (The macerated strawberries are also great on the leftover key lime bars!) If you don't want to go to the trouble of making two desserts so the wimps have one they can eat, I'm sure the bars would be great with the original amount of lime juice! 

Oh, and the extra-delicious pistachio garnish? Totally Momma's idea. :)

Please-give-the-recipe-to-my-keeper-of-recipes: 1 vote!
It-was-strong-enough-for-my-extreme-love-of-key-lime-tartness,-but-the-pistachio-garnish-and-the-pistachio-crust-helped-give-it-a-mellowness-as-well: 2 votes!
Oh-my-that's-too-tart-for-me: 1 vote
If-Momma-thinks-it's-too-tart-then-there-is-no-way-I'm-gonna-try-it: 7 votes (yep, they're all wimps!)

To see Tabitha's take on Lime Bars with Pistachio Graham-Cracker Crust, head on over to Double the Garlic! (Don't worry, she's not a wimp either!)

Nom. Nom. Nom.
Photo courtesy of Holly Ballenger


  1. The pistachios on top are a nice touch! I'm glad you all (at least the brave ones) tried it and enjoyed it.

  2. I love the new pictures at the top of your blog! I got use to the extra tartness after my second one and looked forward to it by my third!! (I know--oink oink!)

  3. @ FoodLovers: Thanks!

    @ Tabitha: I think the pistachios took it up a notch on the pretty scale since I was missing the meringue!

    @ Momma: So glad you learned to like them! (And I'm also grateful the leftovers didn't go to waste!)

  4. What a wonderful use of pistachios! It seems as if they will compliment the taste of the pie filling beautifully.


  6. Hi Melanie!
    I chose this recipe for August's SRC! It was delicious and a big hit with my family! It was really easy too. Thanks for sharing it. I enjoyed looking through all your recipes a whole lot too!!!
    Renee - Kudos Kitchen

  7. Hi Melanie!
    I chose this recipe for August's SRC. It was super easy and so yummy! My family loved it a lot!
    I enjoyed looking through your blog at all your wonderful recipes too. Thanks so much for sharing your Key Lime Square recipe :)
    Renee - Kudos Kitchen


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