Thursday, April 18, 2013

Key Lime Bars with White Chocolate Whipped Cream

Here’s my piece of advice for the day: avoid moving at all costs. It really stinks. It’s as stressful as surgery and, just as honest doctors will they tell you to avoid being cut open unless absolutely necessary, I suggest you avoid relocating your domicile for the same reason: it may just kill you. That being said, I’ve arrived in Florida, the Sunshine State, and so far, so good. Though many New Yorkers turn their 

collective noses up at the thought of living in a place where residents ride their bicycles to pick up their prescriptions at the local pharmacy, I say what’s not to love? The weather’s amazing (though I may be singing a different tune towards the end of August), people are unbelievably nice, and there’s always an early bird special to be found. Paradise, non? Yes, life here has its unpleasant moments – 

this morning, for example, I found a dead lizard floating belly-up in the pool – but mostly it’s a happy environment and I embrace it.

In honor of my new home I decided to make Key Lime Bars. To be technical, they should really be called Persian Lime bars, as I couldn’t find any Key limes at my local Publix supermarket (give me some time, already). But they are still quite 

wonderful, particularly topped with White Chocolate Whipped Cream. One bite, and you may just feel a warm, poolside breeze brush your face as your stress floats away. Just like the dead lizard. You may even find yourself smiling, though not as brightly as I did when I realized I wouldn’t have to pay New York State taxes anymore.

Key Lime Bars with White Chocolate Whipped Cream

Makes 9 bars

1 cup (136 g) graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon (12.5 g) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons (42 g) unsalted butter, melted

Key Lime Filling:
4 large egg yolks
1 15-oz (425 g) can sweetened condensed milk
½ cup strained Key lime or Persian lime juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest
Pinch of salt

White Chocolate Whipped Cream:
4 ounces (113 g) high-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cups (295 g) heavy cream, divided

Make the crust:
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil, so that it extends 2 inches beyond the short ends of the pan. In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Add the melted butter and mix until well blended. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan in an even layer. Bake the crust until set, 7 to 9 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool while you make the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
Make the lime filling:
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the yolks until well blended. Whisk in the condensed milk until blended. Whisk in the lime juice, lime zest, and salt. Pour the filling over the prepared crust. Bake until the filling is set, about 15 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes.
3. Freeze the bars in the pan for at least 1 hour before cutting.
Make the whipped cream:
4. Place the white chocolate and 1/4 cup of the heavy cream in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water. Heat, stirring frequently, until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and separate the top of the double boiler from the bottom. Let the chocolate mixture cool to room temperature. 
5. Pour the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat at high speed until soft peaks begin to form. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand. Whisk about 1/2 cup of the whipped cream into the chocolate. Pour this mixture into the rest of the whipped cream and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold it in. Do not overmix or the cream will become grainy. Use the whipped cream immediately or refrigerate and use within 2 hours.   
6. Lift the bars out of the pan by the aluminum foil ends. Remove the foil and cut into 9 bars. Serve chilled, topped with some of the White Chocolate Whipped Cream (or plain whipped cream, if you prefer).

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