Sunday, May 10, 2009

Easy Make - Key Lime Cheesecake

My first job was waitressing at Howard Johnson's where the key lime pie was this color green. The pie made at HoJo's headquarters came frozen to the store. The pastry never came out of defrosting in anything other than a brick consistency. Meanwhile the meringue topping developed a semi-liquid viscosity between it and the pie. I ate a slice every day and if the boss wasn't looking I had two.

I made this with my neighbor, 8 year-old Alec. We overdid the green food coloring. But you have to admit, it makes a statement.

It's actually easy and fun to do with a child. They love the squeezing of limes (done outside of course and don't forget to wear eye protection), the hammering of graham crackers for the crust, and the supervision of the mixer while things get poured into it.

The crust almost looks as thick as the cheesecake part, but that's because Alec took a hammer to the entire box of graham crackers. He was so proud of doing it, I didn't want to not use the entire crushed contents of the package.

Key Lime Bite-Sized Cheesecakes
(makes about 24)

Graham Cracker Crust
1 cup finely pounded graham crackers
3 tablespoons melted butter

1.5 8 oz. packages of cream cheese
5 egg yolks
7 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1 cup key lime juice (buy the key limes by the bag and use the leftovers for ice tea and fish)
1/8 cup sugar
3 drop green food coloring, if you dare. 1 to 2 drops gets you a green you wouldn't mind paintingur kitchen with, go bold 3 drops maybe more.

Whipped topping
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract


  1. Preheat over to 325 degrees. Pull out all ingredients to get to room temperatures.

  2. Make it easy, use one of the new flexible 8x8 baking dishes. Spray with non-stick spray and then line with parchment paper, leaving plenty of paper at the ends to lift out the cake when done.

  3. Combine crushed graham crackers with butter. For kid cooks, use a potato masher to get the work started.

  4. Press mixture into the baking dish until the bottom is covered.

  5. Bake the crust for about 10 minutes.

  6. For the filling, get out a big bowl and cream the cream cheese to a non-lumpy consistency through-out.

  7. Add the egg yolks, condensed milk, and sugar.

  8. Add the lime juice.

  9. Pour the filling into the prepared pan and bake about 30 minutes. If it jiggles like gelatin, it's done.

  10. Allow to cool.

  11. Gently pull away the flexible sides of the baking dish (if necessary use a knife). Have your kitchen helper hold down an end of the dish while you lift up an inch or two on both sides of the parchment paper. Move the cheesecake sideways over the flattened dish side onto a cutting board. Cut into squares.

  12. Whip whipping cream until tufts form.

  13. Add sugar and almond extract and whip.

  14. Add a dollop to every square with a thin slice of key lime to top.

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