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lightened up key lime bars {without condensed milk}

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  • 1 1/2 cup crumbled graham crackers
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

Pastry Cream

  • 1 1/2 tsp powdered gelatin
  • 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, about 45 limes
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch


  • unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
  • powdered sugar


  1. Grab an 8×8 inch pan. Line it with parchment paper leaving extra to hang over the sides for easy removal.
  2. To make the crust, soften your dates. If they look a bit dry and crystalized, soak in warm water to reconstitute. Remove the pits. In a food processor, add the graham crackers, coconut flakes, dates, cinnamon and coconut oil. Process until the mixture resembles wet sand. It should look crumbly but come together when pressed in your hands. If not, add a tiny bit of water to get it going. Then, press the crumbs down into your lined pan to make your crust.
  3. For the pastry cream, place the gelatin and a splash of water in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  4. Juice the limes. An electric juicer or citrus reamer works really well. Set aside.
  5. Bring the milk to a gentle boil. Remove from the heat. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, and cornstarch until well combined. To temper the eggs, slowly whisk about ½ cup of the warm milk into the egg mixture, stirring constantly (do not pour all at once or else the eggs will scramble). Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the pan of milk. Add the gelatin and lime juice. Increase the heat to medium-low, and cook stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until it has thickened, about 1-3 minutes . Strain the mixture through a fine sieve directly over your prepared crust. Smooth out the top with a rubber spatula. Cover with plastic wrap (touching the surface of the pastry cream) so that it does not form a skin. Leave to cool at room temperature for an hour and then transfer to the fridge to chill overnight.
  6. When ready to serve, remove the plastic wrap. Then remove the the pie from the pan.
  7. Garnish with toasted coconut flakes and powdered sugar.
  8. Cut into squares and serve.