I think everyone goes through an emotional ebb and flow. I know I’m not the only one! I’m obviously a very fortunate person. I have an awesome job, the best husband anyone could ever ask for, a great group of friends, and pretty much anything any twenty a something could ask for. I live in New York. I made it! I don’t have crippling debt and I can go out to eat, see a movie, and do a bit of traveling. This is my mantra and I try to tell myself this every single day. But of course there are always those other, less positive thoughts that can occasionally gnaw away at you no matter how hard you try to push them out of your head. I’ve always had anxiety. For as long as I can remember it’s just been a part of me. The trick is knowing that, being okay with that, and letting yourself be sad every so often instead of beating yourself up over it. I can’t pretend that everything is always perfect. It’s definitely not and it never will be. I am aware that other people, or better yet, most people, have it a lot harder than me and probably don’t even have the time to consider their own feelings. But you can’t compare your own experiences to someone else’s because each person is different and views the world from a unique perspective. Everyone has his or her own problems and histories and you can’t deny yourself some time to be sad and cry because you don’t think you’ve earned it. That should probably be my new mantra. I have no idea what I’m getting at here. Probably that a lot of us are in the same cushy boat where we feel guilty if we have anxieties or frustrations because life as a whole is good and we should be grateful 24/7. It’s not always that easy, though.
Anyway, sorry to take you guys to that place, but sometimes you just have to do it. It’s fun to be surprised, right? Ha. So, let’s turn that frown upside down with some key lime tarts. I remember there was a point in my life where I thought key lime was just some kind of way to make regular limes taste different. Don’t ask me why or how I came to that conclusion. I just didn’t know that there was a difference between limes and key limes. The difference is now clear to me. Key limes are incredibly adorable (because they are so tiny) and have an intensely sweet aroma and flavor. I don’t think that I have ever baked with key limes before this, which is probably because their size makes them a huge pain in the ass to juice. But sometimes you gotta do it. I made these tarts for a happy hour at work, after which I discovered that people love key lime. I’ll be honest: Kramer wasn’t a big fan. He said that he didn’t like the taste at all. I have a feeling that he’s not a lime guy, because I really liked them and they disappeared at the office. The combination of rich, sweetened condensed milk alongside a buttery graham cracker crust and bright, fresh key lime is certainly, well, delightful. Don’t let the weather get you down – a few of these will put you right back into a tropical, summery mood.
Time to make graham cracker crumbs! Ohmygod I hate using my food processor because it is such a pain in the ass to clean, but I will make an exception for these tarts.
I won’t lie to you – I may have just stuck a spoon in here and ate this on its own.
In goes the crust.
Look how tiny! They’re cute until you realize how many you have to juice.
Fill up your tarts and bake until set.
- 2½ cup finely ground graham cracker crumbs (about 2 sealed packages worth)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 6 egg yolks
- zest of 3 key limes
- 2 cans sweetened condensed milk (28 ounces total)
- juice of about 50 key limes (I know, I know - beware ye who juice 50 key limes)
- First, make your crust. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk together your graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter with a wooden spoon in a large bowl until well combined. Press the crust into lined mini-muffin pans, about 1 teaspoon per key lime tart. I found a shot glass that was small enough to press the crumbs into the pan for me, which saved my thumb a lot of ache and pain. Bake the crust for 8-10 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- While the crust bakes, make your filling by adding your egg yolks to the bowl of your mixer and with your whisk, whisk on high speed until thick and pale yellow, about 5 solid minutes. Add in your lime zest, then add in your condensed milk, about ½ cup at a time, whisking on medium-high speed until all of the condensed milk has been added and the mixture is thick - be sure to whisk on medium-high for at least 5 minutes. Reduce the speed a bit and add in your key lime juice.
- Add about 1½ teaspoons of filling to each miniature tart, then bake for 8-10 minutes or so, until set. Repeat with your remaining crust and filling until you've used it all up. These will keep well in the fridge for up to 2 days or frozen for 2 weeks and thawed out in the fridge (which is what I did for a party).