I am very excited about today's recipe. I have been very into baking lately, embracing all the lovely summer fruits. Normally, I just eat all the berries and stone fruits raw but this year, I decided to try my hand at developing desserts. People are always asking me, "what would you make with so and so?". Well if you are ever in need of a berry dessert recipe, I am your girl. So far this year, I have made a blackberry almond galette, strawberry poppyseed cinnamon rolls, and caramelized banana raspberry swirl muffins. Returning to strawberries, today's treat is insanely delicious strawberry key lime pie bars. Wanting to make a different type of key lime pie, I took the basic idea and added strawberries to the filling. In addition to that, these have a gingersnap crust AND are topped with meringue! Can you see why I was so excited?
Strawberry Key Lime Pie Bars
- 1 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs
- ¼ cup butter melted
- ¼ cup brown sugar
Strawberry key lime filling
- 1 cup strawberry puree about 1 lb strawberries
- ⅔ cup key lime juice about 1 ½ lb key limes
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 teaspoon lime zest
- 14 ounces condensed milk
- 6 large egg whites
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 8x8 baking dish.
- Combine the gingersnap cookie crumbs with melted butter and brown sugar. Press the crumbs into the prepared baking dish into one even layer to form the crust. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool completely.
- Make the filling. Blend the strawberries until smooth to make the strawberry puree and combine with the lime juice.
- Beat together the egg yolks with lime zest until frothy, about 5 minutes. Slowly add the condensed milk, beating constantly. Add the lime juice and strawberry puree, mixing until well combined. Pour the filling into the pan with the crust and bake for 10 minutes or until the edges have set. The center will be a little jiggly but it should not be runny. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. Continue to cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Meanwhile, make the meringue. Whip together the egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually add the sugar, whipping until stiff peaks form. Top the strawberry key lime bars with the meringue. Use a blow torch to torch the top of the meringue. Cut into 9 bars and serve.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
I am a little embarrassed to say that up until now I have never had a key lime. I've only associated it with key lime pie and I've never made the pie before (another small confession). Well, it was time to change things up. Although these strawberry key lime bars are not your typical key lime pie, it is so, so good. Trust me.
Let's start with the key limes. What is the difference between these and regular limes? Key limes are smaller, more aromatic, and have higher acidity. Can you substitute regular limes for this recipe? Well then it wouldn't be a key lime bar now, would it? If you can't find them fresh, bottled key lime juice is another alternative. I will admit, juicing these tiny fruits were a pain!
To make the strawberry puree, just blend up the strawberries. Beat the egg yolks with lime zest until it becomes frothy and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Add the condensed milk slowly, stirring constantly. I used a stand mixer to make the process easier. Mix in the lime juice and strawberry puree until well combined and there you have your filling.
To make the gingersnap crust, just combine the cookie crumbs with melted butter and sugar. The easiest way to make the crumbs is to use a food processor. For 1 ½ cups of crumbs, you will need about 10 ounces of ginger snap cookies.
Pour in the filling in the cooled crust and bake for 10 minutes (yes only 10 minutes!). The pie looks a little like pink jello at this point. Don't worry if it jiggles around a little since it will firm up as it chills overnight.
Meanwhile, make the meringue. Since you used only the egg yolks for the filling, I thought it only made sense to use the whites to make a meringue. Whip the egg whites with cream of tartar until the mixture becomes foamy. The cream of tartar will help stabilize the egg whites and assist in making those signature meringue peaks. Slowly add the sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
Top the strawberry key lime pie bars with meringue and use a torch to brown the tops. Have fun with the meringue since the swirls are what makes the bars look beautiful.
It helps to use a clean sharp knife to cut the bars since the meringue can be delicate. Cut into bars and get ready to be blown away. That might be an exaggeration but then again, who am I kidding? I loved these bars and I got the stamp of approval from my foodie friends! The tart but slightly sweet filling with the gingersnap crust and marshmallowy meringue is really just heaven.
Excuse me while I return to my plate of strawberry key lime pie bars...
For more strawberry inspiration check out these strawberry poppy seed cinnamon rolls!