I like to call Shavuot the “No meat? No problem!” holiday. When brainstorming a recipe for this post, I learned a lot about the history of this holiday, particularly why we focus on dairy dishes instead of meat. Or, more to the point: What’s with all the blintzes?
What I learned is that Jews are resourceful when they’re hungry. So when we were given the Torah on that fateful Shabbat atop Mount Sinai and instructed to start eating kosher, we didn’t wait until we were allowed to “kasher” our meat and cooking utensils. Instead, we decided to make our first kosher meal a dairy one, using the milk we’d set aside for the animals.
I’m always looking for more opportunities to eat dairy desserts like cheesecake and ice cream, and acknowledging the origin of our religion’s dietary laws is as good a reason as any. Key lime bars are one of my favorite dairy desserts because of their bracing, bright flavor and smooth filling, layered to make a tidy, portable cheesecake. These little squares are so good you’ll want to shout it from the rooftop—or mountaintop, as the case may be.
Key Lime Bars
Makes about 16
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely ground graham crackers
5 tablespoons butter, melted
⅓ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon grated lime zest
Pinch table salt
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg yolk
½ cup fresh lime juice
1. FOR THE CRUST: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper and spray generously with cooking spray.
2. Combine graham crackers, butter, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Combine until graham cracker crumbs are evenly moistened. Transfer to prepared baking pan and press firmly into bottom of pan. Bake until deeper in color and dry, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely.
3. FOR THE FILLING: In large bowl, combine cream cheese, zest, condensed milk, and yolk. Whisk vigorously until smooth. Add lime juice and stir until well combined.
4. Pour filling into crust and use spatula to spread into even layer that reaches to corners of pan. Bake until filling is just set, rotating pan halfway through, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature on wire rack, then cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
5. Remove from pan, cut into squares, and serve.