“True love is hard to find.”
“True love is never having to say you’re sorry.” (um, that’s total BS. I think it’s being willing to say you’re sorry even if you think you’re right.)
“True love is putting someone else before yourself.”
Many have waxed poetic when it comes to the definition of true love, but in my book, true love is juicing a bajillion itty bitty key limes when winter’s nastiness has left your hands chapped and cracked to make your husband’s birthday cheesecake-of-the-year. I REALLY love my husband. And I didn’t even whine.
Okay, in all seriousness, it was only about 15 itty bitty key limes, and I did whine a little. Others have definitely made greater sacrifices for love, but if you choose to skip the fresh limes and use bottled key lime juice, I won’t fault you one bit. In fact, I would call you very smart. But it was worth the pain because this cheesecake is FANTASTIC. Creamy, tangy, tropical, with that coconut crumb crust acting as the perfect counterpoint to the tart key-lime filling. Thank you, MJ, for wanting something a bit tropical this year, because this was just rich enough to feel decadent, but not so rich that I needed a nap. It was a lovely bright spot in all the wonderful but heavy holiday treats we’ve been buried in recently. I’m considering a trip home on my lunch break just to snatch another bite.
Best of all, this being a no-bake cheesecake, it’s dead simple, and would come together in 20 minutes or less if you used lime juice instead of juicing the limes yourself. When I make it again, maybe in a week or so, I plan to switch out a few of the graham crackers for about a 1/3 cup of toasted coconut flakes. I think it will make a great thing even better.
No-Bake Key Lime Cheesecake with Coconut Crumb Crust
Makes enough to fill 6 medium ramekins OR one 9 inch-round OR about 8 small mason jars
For Key-Lime Filling
- 1/3 cup key lime juice
- 1 1/2 tsp key lime (or regular lime) zest
- 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 8 oz. (one brick) less-fat cream cheese (aka neufchatel), softened
- 8 oz. Cool Whip or other whipped topping
- food coloring (optional)
- lime slices or zest, for garnish (optional)
For Coconut Crumb Crust
- 1 sleeve graham crackers
- heaping 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 4 tblsp. butter, melted
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 1 tsp. coconut extract
- 1/3 cup toasted coconut flakes (optional, reduce graham crackers by 1 1/2 cookie if using)
- Prep crumb crust. In a medium bowl, combine finely ground or smashed graham crackers, brown sugar, toasted coconut, if using, and salt. Mix vanilla and coconut extract in to melted butter, and pour butter mixture over crumbs, stirring to combine until mixture will stick together slightly when pinched. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat softened cream cheese with lime zest together with an electric mixer. Add lime juice and sweetened condensed milk. It was at this point that I decided that my filling didn’t have quite enough color to it, so I added a few drops of green and a drop of yellow food coloring. Start with a little—you can always add more, and you want subtle not neon color. Scrape down sides of bowl, and mix again. Fold in about two thirds of the tub of Cool Whip, reserving the remaining third for topping cheesecake. Scrap off beaters (the lime zest sticks to them) and mix again with a rubber spatula.
- Pour crumb crust into desired pan, ramekins, or jars and press down to form crust. Spoon key lime filling over the crust; I find tapping the pan or jars gently on the countertop helps the filling settle. Smooth top with spatula, cover with jar lids or plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.
- To serve, top with a hefty dollop of Cool Whip and lime slices. Enjoy your Caribbean vacation via cheesecake.
Psssst, speaking of Caribbean vacations, MJ and I are headed to Barbados this week! See you in 2015!