Strawberry Key-Lime Bars

I know! This looks more like a wedge than a bar. It was a corner piece…….

This cool and cooling dessert fulfills TWO functions on my blog today!
First, it represents June (just in the nick of time!) for my Twelve Cookies of Christmas series.
Second, it pays homage to the Mass Farmers Markets Strawberry Dessert Festival, which will run through July 4 at 50 locations throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Chefs in restaurants and markets are getting creative with strawberries and donating a portion of the desserts’ revenues to the Federation of Massachusetts Farmers Markets, which supports farmers and markets statewide. 

The closest participating restaurants are in Northampton, about an hour away from me. So I’m contributing to the festivities with a homemade (and home enjoyed) strawberry dessert.

The idea for this particular dessert came from the manufacturers of my go-to key-lime juice, Nellie & Joe’s.
I have to admit that I’m ambivalent about whipped topping (a.k.a. Cool Whip). Part of me loves the idea of eating something that resembles whipped cream (sort of) and getting by with very few calories.
Another part of me thinks about the ingredients and shudders. Basically, as you probably know, the stuff contains corn syrup, chemicals, and air.
I compromise with my principles by not eating it very often. My mother (who likes these bars very much, by the way) taught me to follow a path of moderation whenever possible.
Someday I may try making a key-lime pie with fresh strawberries and eschew the whipped topping.
In warm weather it was very handy to make this no-bake dessert, however.
So here are the bare bars. 

One word of warning: Be careful during the folding process not to hold anything slippery. As I was attempting to take a photo of the folding process, my little pink camera slid right in. SO FAR it appears to have survived. Luckily, the bars are pink so any staining that might have occurred is not discernible.

The Bars
2 cups cut-up strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 smidgeon butter
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups crushed graham crackers or pretzels (If you choose to use the pretzels—which give the bars a nice salty crunch—be sure to crush these pesky critters in a food processor; you need to get them as fine as possible. You can also use a Gluten Free Soft Pretzel Baking Mix if you’re allergic to gluten. I may actually have quit a little early!)
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/ 2 cup key-lime juice
8 ounces whipped topping, cold but not frozen
The day before you want to make the bars combine the strawberries and sugar in a saucepan. Let them sit until they juice up (an hour will probably do).
Bring the strawberry mixture to a boil, and stir in the butter. Reduce the heat and simmer until the strawberries are jam-like but not completely solid, stirring from time to time. The time needed will depend on the juiciness of your strawberries and the degree of heat your stove emits on “low”; my fairly firm berries and gas stove took about half an hour.
Remove the mixture from the heat and stir for five minutes, breaking up pieces of strawberry if they remain. Refrigerate the mixture overnight.
The next day line a 9-by-13-inch pan with foil. Melt the butter. Add the sugar and cracker or pretzel crumbs, and press the mixture into the pan. Set aside.
Beat together the strawberry mixture, condensed milk, and key-lime juice. Fold in the whipped topping. Mix thoroughly but gently.
Use a spatula to spread the strawberry mixture on top of the crumb crust. Cover the pan carefully (avoid hitting the top of the bars with your cover!) and freeze the mixture for 6 hours or overnight. 

Let the bars stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Makes 24 or more bars, depending on how small you slice them. 

It pains me to admit it, but my young friend Audrey looked much cuter holding the bars than I did.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider taking out an email subscription to my blog. Just click on the link below!

Subscribe to In Our Grandmothers’ Kitchens by Email.

Tags: ,

4 Responses to “Strawberry Key-Lime Bars”

  1. Oh, now you’ve got me Tinky. These look fabulous and our key lime tree is straining under the weight of all the limes. I think my Audrey would love these bars. I’m not a big Cool Whip fan either…maybe substitute real whipped cream stabilized with some gelatin?

  2. Oh Tinky, these look and sound great! I grew up eating Cool Whip on occasion and I have some in my freezer right now..I love the convenience of it but choose to not think about the fake stuff inside! I also grew up eating key lime pie that had no real limes in it at all, only cool whip, sweetened condensed milk and limeade so these sound very similar. And if the ‘key-lime’ pie my mom made is scrumptious then I can only imagine how these taste. I will definitely try these and pass the recipe on to my mom. Thanks!

  3. These look so delicious – but we’re back to those differences – we don’t have key-lime juice, just lime juice and I’m not sure what the equivalent of your whipped topping is ….. but I’m sure I could make something similar (not to sure about graham crackers either)

  4. tinkyweisblat says:

    Abigail, it’s worth a try, athough it would make the recipe a bit more complicated. I’m so jealous of your fresh key limes! EveryDay, I’m honored. Frayed, I’m afraid we may have hit too large a barrier here. I could help you with the Graham crackers and the topping–but a key lime has a very distinctive flavor. Rats! I’m sorry…….

Leave a Reply