[RECIPE] Lime Butter Snowbars

The basic ingredients of Lime Butter Snowbars – or Lime Bars (a gooey, tart, lime-based topping with a shortbread crust) – according to me because I base it on the origin of Lemon Bars/Squares, originate from the European Renaissance. Then some Americans began making the version that we know today in the mid to late twentieth century until it became “official” in the Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book (1963) and its popularity exploded.

Enough of that rather poorly done brief history lesson (I admit, I like these useless tidbits of information and I can’t say that they won’t occur again). The question now is why lime? What is the difference between our two citrus favorites?

Looking at the nutritional values, lemons are higher in folate (good for pregnant mothers, apparently), magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C, whereas limes are higher in vitamin A, phosphorus, and calcium. The two have traces of selenium, zinc, manganese, and copper as well as iron. When it comes to taste, it may differ by personal preference or cuisine and even a combination of the two, but it’s said that lemons are more sour and limes considered more bitter and sweet. There are also accounts of Vietnamese and Mexican cuisines asking for predominately limes (perhaps because their countries have limes in greater quantity), but one person says that using lemon in nuoc cham makes the sauce bitter after a couple of hours whereas the lime doesn’t. A random science fact: both limes (1.12 g/mL) and lemons (1.02 g/mL) have density that is similar to that of water (1 g/mL). However, even with the close measurements, it’s the lime that sinks and some theorize it’s because “…lime flesh is much more dense than lemon flesh and, as a result, it holds its juice better”.

As for me, I like both of them equally, so the original reason for me answering the useless question was due to my own curiosity between the difference of the two fruits. Anyhow, I like the color green more (though I’m in love with the Meyer Lemon), so even though I’ve never made a lemon bar before, I’ve definitely had my moments with lime. In truth, this isn’t the first time I’ve made this recipe (it’s my fifth time), because it’s never failed me. However, this is the first time I’ve made it for people outside of my immediately family and friends (who knows? they might have raved about it so as not to hurt my feelings..) and it’s been years since my first post, so I decided to re-post it. I often readjust recipes to my liking (less salt, less sugar, more this and that, etc.) but this is one recipe that I didn’t tweak at all.

Lime Butter Snowbars
(taken from this recipe, I typed the following from memory – you should still refer to the original site for better pictures)
Makes around 16+ bars (depending on the size of the squares and pan).

INGREDIENTS
for the crust

  • 1 1/3 cups of All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup of Evaporated Cane Sugar
  • 1/2 cup of Unsalted Butter, softened and cut into cubes or sliced

for the lime topping 

  • 3 1/2 tablespoons of Lime Juice, strained
  • zest from two Limes
  • 3/4 cup of Evaporated Cane Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of All Purpose Flour
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Baking Powder
  • 4 to 6 drops of Green Food Coloring (optional)

THE HOW-TO
Preheat the oven to 350 F.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, butter, and sugar with a pastry/dough cutter (or blender) until it resembles cornmeal. When you press some of it together between your fingers, it should stick.

Press the cornmealed crust dough into an 8×8 OR 9×9 baking pan and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the edges are a golden brown. Remove from heat and cool for a little bit (10 to 15 minutes at least) or else the filling will begin to cook immediately once they make contact, but it shouldn’t make too much of a difference other than a shorter bake time (just keep an eye on it).

While the crust is baking, mix the lime juice, lime zest, sugar, flour, eggs, baking powder, and food coloring (if using) in another bowl until homogeneous (or as homogeneous as it can get). Pour the filling topping over the crust and bake it for another 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool completely before cutting.

Exhibit A of what happens when you let it “cool” for 30 minutes and cut into it. I finished making it right before we had to leave to make it to the potluck. The second time, we let it cool completely – over night.

If desired, sprinkle powdered sugar on top before serving. Prepare for heaven in your mouth.

COMMENTS/NOTES

  • I know I said that I didn’t change anything in this, but… here are some notes: (1) I like tartness so I put a little more than the 3 TBSP of lime juice in the original recipe, (2) by the time I finished zesting, you could only see the rind of the lime, and (3) each cup of sugar was scant (at least I didn’t half the sugar or even quarter it, haha).
  • I used two limes for both the juice and the zest; my dad’s a great citrus shopper – I still had extra lime juice… so I might have added even more in.
  • We opted out of the dusting of powdered sugar.
  • I used an 8 x 8 pan because it was the only one we had. Good thing, too. I had made the first batch this afternoon for a potluck dinner and it won rave reviews. It’s possible that I didn’t advertise it there other than a “it’s dessert made from limes and I made it”, because a part of me wanted leftovers for myself. At the beginning, not many people tried it (we had cut out 36 small “bars” so everyone could get one.. or seconds – could be more) because they’re all Asian, most of them are on the older side, and most of them don’t like sweet things. However, the word spread (I was told I could open my own bakery at one point) and the host of the event told me that he only wished one thing: that they were thicker. I ended up giving him a copy of the recipe and he looked ecstatic. Oh, Westerners – they finally agreed that not all Western desserts were saturated with sugar, though most still are (I’m inclined to agree).
  • The taste? Absolutely divine. Leaving the crust to bake for exactly 20 minutes makes it a little crunchier and a shorter bake time allows it to melt in your mouth more freely. Either way, it’s shortbread – need I say more? The topping, despite the added lime juice, was tart (but not overly so), not too sweet, and oh-so-gooey. When you add the two together, it’s heaven on earth. I had fourths and so did many others. Woot. I got home and made another batch for tomorrow’s Mother’s Day Lunch potluck because I wanted to eat it for the second day in a row with a semi-guilt free conscience. This recipe is now ingrained in my mind and there it shall stay. And to think I almost forgot how it tasted…
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