By Barbara Beltrami

People who live in hot climates know about limes. They use them lavishly in savory and sweet dishes as well as drinks and know just how refreshing their taste can be, particularly if they’re key limes, which have an extra intense flavor and tartness. I think a lime dessert on a balmy evening under the stars or as a pick-me-up with just a glass of iced tea or coffee on a steamy afternoon is the supreme finale and palate pleaser when something sweet is in order. Here are three winners to take your taste buds to some really cool places.

Tea Lime Cookies

YIELD: Makes about 2 dozen cookies

INGREDIENTS:

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1/3 cup milk

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 egg

2 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest

1¾ cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

¼ cup sifted confectioners’ sugar

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small bowl combine the two teaspoons lime juice and milk; let sit about 5 minutes. In a large bowl use electric mixer to cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy; beat in egg with lime zest; then stir in lime juice-milk mixture. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda; blend into butter mixture; drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes, until edges are pale brown. Let cool slightly on baking sheet before transferring to wire rack to cool completely. In a small bowl, thoroughly combine remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice and confectioners’ sugar. Brush onto cooled cookies. Serve with iced tea or iced coffee.

Annabelle’s Key Lime Cheesecake

Annabelle’s Key Lime Cheesecake

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1½ cups graham cracker crumbs

2 tablespoons sugar

½ stick unsalted butter, melted

2½ eight-ounce bricks cream cheese, softened

¾ cup sugar

3 eggs

1 cup sour cream

3 tablespoons flour

¾ cup Key lime juice

Dash vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 F. In a medium bowl combine graham cracker crumbs, two tablespoons sugar and melted butter. Press onto bottom and partly up sides of a greased 10-inch spring form pan. Bake 5 to 10 minutes; cool on wire rack.

In a large bowl using a mixer on medium-high speed beat cream cheese and three-quarters cup of sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time; then beat in remaining ingredients until mixture is smooth; pour into cooled crust. Bake in 375 F oven for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 250 F and bake another 45 to 55 minutes, until mixture is just set.

Remove from oven, cool on wire rack, cover and refrigerate 6 to 8 hours. Remove from pan, top with whipped cream if desired, and serve chilled with coffee, tea or honeydew liqueur.

Alice’s Key Lime Pie

YIELD: Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1½ cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs

1/3 cup granulated sugar

6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

4 egg yolks

1 tablespoon freshly grated lime zest

One 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk

2/3 cup Key lime juice

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl, thoroughly combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Press mixture onto bottom and sides of 8- or 9-inch pie plate. Bake about 10 minutes; cool in plate on wire rack. While crust is cooling, using wire whisk attachment to mixer, beat egg yolks with lime zest until very fluffy, about 5 minutes. Gradually add sweetened condensed milk and continue to beat until thickened, about 3 to 5 minutes longer. With mixer speed on low, add lime juice and beat just until blended, no longer. Pour into crust and bake about 10 minutes, until filling is barely set (a knife inserted in center should come out clean). Cool to room temperature, refrigerate, then freeze for half an hour before serving. Serve with sweetened whipped cream.

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