Summertime’s Keys


Today’s entry is key to the upcoming season in more ways than one.  To begin, the summery concoction featured above, Key Lime Cheesecake, represents a warm-weather classic, which hopefully will ignite summer’s engines and will get things moving after the chill has lingered far too long.

Key limes’ bright, citrusy, almost floral notes give any dish they touch a burst of renewed exuberance.  It’s summer’s warmth bringing everything back to life after a long slumber.

The desert you see above draws on three inspirations.  Most important, the cheesecakes themselves were featured on the Let’s Dish Recipes site.  The instructions for the whipped cream adorning each came from add a pinch.  Finally, the candied lime zest topping it all was found on allrecipes.

Because these little gems of summery goodness derive from a “no-bake” cheesecake recipe, their consistency is more similar to a thick, substantive pudding than they are to a standard cheesecake.  This worried me at first, because as far as these deserts go I definitely prefer the firmer, denser New York-style.   I needn’t have been concerned.

For one thing, the softer texture is a great match for the miniature Mason jars.  Think of  pudding cups.  Not only that, but the flavor is spot-on – cheesecake’s rich, creaminess with the added sparkle of lime’s tanginess.

However, the main draw is the graham cracker crust.  Crunchy, crumbly and buttery, it’s the ideal platform for this desert.  Good enough, in fact, to merit a repeat performance; I layered  some on top of each cake, despite the recipe calling for it to appear only once.  A spoonful of freshly-made whipped cream tops it all off, creating a confection  that brings taste buds to life after a winter slumber.

Happy summer!

*****

No-Bake Mini Key Lime Cheesecakes

  • 1 sleeve graham crackers
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 tablespoons lime zest

Pulverize the graham crackers to a fine consistency.  Mix in the brown sugar and melted butter until the mixture resembles wet sand.  Fill the serving dish(es) about 1/3 full with the crumb mixture.

In a mixer, cream together the cream cheese, condensed milk, lime juice and lime zest.  Pour into the serving dish(es), atop the graham cracker crumbs.

Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving, to allow the cheesecake to set.

*****

Perfect Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place a mixer bowl and wire whisk in the freezer for at least 20 minutes.

Pour all the ingredients into the chilled bowl and whisk on high speed until medium-to-stiff peaks form, about 1 minute.

*****

Candied Citrus Peel

  • 1 cup citrus peel, cut into strips
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water

Place peel strips in a saucepan and cover with water.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer for ten minutes.  Drain.  Repeat this process two more times.

In a medium saucepan, heat sugar and 1/4 cup water until boiling.  Place peel in sugar mixture, reduce heat and simmer for fifteen minutes, until sugar has dissolved.  Place peel on a wire rack to dry overnight.

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