For our anniversary, my husband had one request: Key Lime Cheesecake. For his birthday a few months ago, it was New York-Style Blueberry Cheesecake, and for Thanksgiving he wants Pumpkin Cheesecake … are you noticing a theme here? He always appreciates my efforts, so it is easy to oblige.
When it is a special occasion, I don’t take short cuts or simplify recipes, so I set my jaw and started zesting and juicing key limes (I suspect it is akin to milking mice). Twenty-four petite globes later, there was the 2 tablespoons zest and 3/4 cup juice I needed—it was a citrus massacre. Following the recipe precisely, I discovered it wasn’t necessarily precise and had a few questions, which were answered and included below.
Baked in advance, the crust includes brown sugar for a caramel flavor far superior to no-bake crusts. This silky, citrus-kissed dessert is everything you imagine a Key Lime Cheesecake should be—tangy, dulcet, velvety, and refreshing—perfect for warm summer evenings or celebrating anniversaries.
Key Lime Cheesecake
Recipe adapted from One Perfect Bite
Serves 12 (plenty to share)
2/3 cup butter — melted
1/4 cup brown sugar — not packed
2 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs — 34-2″x2″ squares or 17 rectangles
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup key lime juice
4 whole eggs — at room temperature
2 egg yolks — at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar — 1 1/4 cup for lime pudding; 1/4 cup for egg whites
2 tablespoons key lime zest — grated fine; 10 limes produce 2 tbsp
1 pound cream cheese — at room temperature
1 pinch sea salt
2 egg whites — at room temperature
8 1/2 inch springform pan
Optional: whipped cream
For the crust: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325° degrees. Process graham crackers in a food processor until fine; add brown sugar and pulse to incorporate. In medium bowl, add processed crumbs with melted butter and toss with fork until evenly moistened. Brush bottom and sides of springform pan with butter also. Empty crumbs into springform pan and press evenly into pan bottom and about an inch up the sides. Bake until fragrant and beginning to brown around edges, 8-10 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling.
For the filling: In a saucepan dissolve gelatin in key lime juice over medium heat, about 5 minutes, remove from heat and set aside. Combine 1-1/4 cups of sugar, eggs, egg yolks, lime zest, and pinch of salt in a separate bowl and mix well. Gradually add hot gelatin mixture, whisk to combine. Once all the gelatin and egg mixture is combined pour back into saucepan and cook over medium heat until mixture thickens and is pudding-like, about 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat.
With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. While mixer is running, slowly add lime mixture and beat until smooth. Transfer to a large, chilled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until completely cooled, stirring every 10 minutes, for about 30-40 minutes.
In an electric mixer, whip egg whites and remaining 1/4 cup of the sugar on medium high until stiff peaks form. Remove cooled lime pudding from the refrigerator and gently fold egg whites into lime pudding until thoroughly blended. Pour filling into prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, about 4 to 24 hours.
When ready to serve run a sharp knife along the side of the pan and remove the spring-form. Slice, cleaning knife between each slice, and serve with fresh whipped cream on top, if desired.
NOTE: 22-24 key limes will produce approximately 3/4 cup of juice, however, it is best to buy extra juice for the assurance you will have enough. If you can buy key limes individually, buy the 10 you need for the zest and bottled key lime juice for the rest.