Key Lime Pie Bars in honor of Alex’s Lemonade Stand

In honor of Alex's Lemonade Stand, these key lime pie bars take all the ingredients we love about the pie and lighten them up ever so slightly for a less caloric, lower sugar treat.

I’ll talk about these yummy key lime pie bars in a few. First, I want to talk about the return of Alex’s Lemonade Stand this Saturday, July 25th to San Diego.

"Our mission is simple: to raise money for and awareness of childhood cancer causes—especially research into new treatments and cures—and to encourage and empower others, especially children, to get involved and make a difference for children with cancer.” Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation

The grassroots fundraising project was started in 2000 by Alexandra "Alex” Scott, a terminally ill child of four years old, to raise money that she could, in turn, give to the doctors who were treating her so they could help other children as well. Her first stand manned by her and her brother raised $2,000. She and her family continued to hold yearly lemonade stands to raise money for pediatric cancer research. Her call to arms quickly spread and by the time of her death in 2004, she, along with the help of others holding their own lemonade stands, had raised $1 million to help fund research for childhood cancer. The lemonade stand has gone on to be become a national charity, with lemonade stands of all shapes and sizes popping up around the country. They have raised $100,000,000 for pediatric cancer research, funding over 500 projects to date.
Locally, the Miller Tribe are hosting their 10th Alex’s Lemonade Stand. Their efforts to date has raised more than $100,000, making their effort the largest fundraising stand in California. This year, they will have two stages: in Normal Heights as in the past and in North Park in front of Thorn Street Brewery.

If you're in San Diego, come out and support the stand. If you don't live locally or can't make it out, consider making a donation directly to the Miller Tribe's efforts.

Normal Heights
3366 Adams Avenue from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
FM 94.9 will be broadcasting live.
Come buy some lemonade, play some games, get your photo taken with Star Wars characters, participate in the silent auction which includes a gorgeous citrus basket from Melissa's Produce, discounted Legoland tickets, bake sale, discounted Hess Fest tickets, and more!

North Park
Satellite stand will be at
3176 Thorn Street from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Lemonade, discounted Legoland tickets, discounted Hess Fest tickets

In addition, the following businesses are donating sales from that day so get out there and eat, drink, and know a percentage of your bill is going towards a great cause!

Check out the list: 

Melissa’s Produce Citrus Challenge
Once again, Melissa’s Produce, based in Los Angeles, has provided local San Diego food bloggers with citrus to create something in honor of this weekend’s Alex’s Lemonade Stand happening here in San Diego. We received pink grapefruit, oranges, meyer lemons and key limes. For last year’s event, I made a Meyer Lemon Plum Upside Down Olive Oil Cake. This year, I opted to play with the key limes. 

Key lime pie. I’ve always thought it sounded rather refreshing. My experience ordering it for dessert while dining out, however, has always been a bit of a let down, actually, due to it’s cloying sweetness overpowering any semblance of limey goodness. Surely, that wasn’t what it was supposed to taste like?

A few months ago, I read a story in where the recipe testers baked several key lime pies trying different variations to see how they could improve upon discerning the “key lime” flavor in a traditional key pie. I didn’t bookmark it and I can’t for the life of me remember where I read it. I’ve searched. Can’t find it so I can’t give proper credit (if you know, let me know and I’ll credit them for inspiring this recipe). They found that adding a bit of lemon juice to the mix actually heightened the key lime flavor. Hmmm.

So I decided to attempt my own version that kept the classic elements: key limes, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, graham crackers, only I wanted it not too sweet and I didn’t want it to completely destroy my diet. I also wanted that heightened key lime flavor so I knew I’d be adding one of the Meyer lemons from my Melissa’s produce box to the mix. I also substituted the white sugar (some recipes I have seen use anywhere from 1/4 cup up to 1 cup of sugar for the crust!) for my favorite granulated sugar replacement, erythritol (zero calorie, zero carb). Also, I wanted to make pie bars instead as that would keep the portion size down, especially if I used a 9x13 pan instead of the typical 8x8-inch pan I see most recipes use, thus yielding 24 squares instead of 16 from the same amount of ingredients.

What I came up with is total limey goodness that isn’t overly sweet. I also feel like, although by no means “healthy”, it is a lighter version than a lot of the popular recipes I came across. Per 2-inch square, this will set you back 163 calories, 17g carbs, 9g fat and 11g sugars. It is a bit of an indulgence for me and you might be thinking it is, also. But let’s put this another way: That Grande Caramel Frappucino you might get a couple times a week? Yeah, that has 410 calories, 15g fat, 66g carbs and 64g sugar. So I say, skip the Frapp and make these instead.

In the photos, I have homemade whipped cream but I didn’t include it in my calculations above. I’ve included my method for making it below, if you want a little added creaminess. I think they taste just as delicious with and without the whipped topping. Also, I opted to use whole eggs to help give some airiness to the texture as I always find key lime pie too dense. You can, however, choose to use just the yolks for a more dense bar.

Yield: 24 (2-inch) squares


For the crust:
12 full graham cracker sheets
½ cup whole pecans
¼ cup erythritol (or white sugar, however, add 2 grams of sugar, 2 grams of carbs and 8 calories to the above nutritional data if you do sub)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter, melted

For the filling:
1 cup light sour cream
4 ounces marscapone
8-12 drops liquid stevia
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room tempature
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
zest of 2 key limes (about 2 tablespoons)
⅔ cup freshly squeezed key lime juice (about 12 limes)
juice of 1 Meyer, or regular, lemon (about 3 tablespoons)

For the optional garnish:
⅓ cup heavy cream, ice cold
zest of 1 key lime
8 drops liquid stevia, or to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9x13-inc pan with cooking spray. Line it with parchment paper, leaving a few inches on two sides to use as “handles” to lift out the bars when ready to serve. Spray the parchment with cooking spray and set pan aside.

Break the cracker up a bit then add them to a food processor with the chopping blade in place. Drop in the pecans, erythritol, brown sugar and cinnamon. Pulse a few times to start the grinding, then run until it’s a homogenous crumb-like texture. Remove to a bowl and add the melted butter, stirring to combine well. Dump the mixture into the prepared pan and using your hands, distribute the crumbs evenly in the pan, firmly packing them down to form a crust. Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Leave oven on.

Stir the sour cream and marscapone in a small bowl until smooth. Add liquid stevia a few drops at a time, tasting until desired sweetness is achieved; set aside.

Add the eggs to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium speed until light and tripled in volume, about 5 minutes. Add the sour cream mixture, sweetened condensed milk, zest, lime juice and lemon juice; beat on medium high for 2 minutes. Pour the custard over the graham cracker crust. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until custard is set and just barely jiggles in the middle. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely for 2 hours at room temperature then cover with foil and refrigerate for up at least 3 hours or overnight before cutting. When ready to serve, cut the bars into 24, 2-inch squares.

Optional: About 30 minutes before serving, place a small metal or glass bowl in the refrigerator along with a wire whisk, if beating by hand, or the beaters of an electric hand mixer. After 30 minutes, remove the bowl and whisk from refrigerator, add the cold cream and zest to the bowl and whip vigorously for several minutes until soft peaks form. Whip in the stevia, starting with 5 or 6 drops and add more to taste. Top each lime bar square with 1 tablespoon of whipped cream.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Melissa's Produce to benefit Alex's Lemonade Stand: Foundation for Childhood Cancer. Melissa's Produce supplied the fruit for this post. I was not otherwise compensated and am not compensated by Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for this post. As always, all opinions expressed are my own and not influence by the sponsorship.