This Mexican key lime ice box cake, known as Carlota de Limon, is the easiest no-bake cake. It needs only 5 ingredients and there’s minimal cleaning up to do. It’s a perfect Mexican dessert that you can serve all year long and uses pantry staple ingredients.
Carlota de limón is an incredibly delicious icebox-style cake. I promise the first time you taste it, your tastebuds will explode with delight and your mind will be blown at the simplicity of this killer dessert.
The first time I ate this cake was like 6 years ago. Well, I don’t have a memory of ever trying it before that. My neighbor invited me over for a slice. I loved it so much that I secretly wanted another slice but was too shy to ask for one. Thankfully she gave me some to take home.
There’s a vague memory of me asking for the recipe, but I’m not much of a baker so I never followed through with it. We moved away and I never had a chance to ask her again. Thank goodness there’s Google!
A couple of weeks ago I was at the mercado and bought one too many limónes aka limes. So what do you do when life gives you limónes? You make cake!
Mexican 5 Ingredient Dessert
If you’re the kind of person that doesn’t like to spend too much time baking a dessert you’re going to love this carlota. It uses just 5 ingredients. And there’s no baking involved! How great is that?!
The ingredients are Mexican limes, condensed and evaporated milk, Maria cookies and vanilla — I like to add vanilla but traditionally recipes don’t call for it. It adds a nice balance of flavor to the tart lime juice and sweetness, plus any chance I get to use my homemade vanilla is great!
There are other variations of to the carlota de limón recipe that can include cream cheese and media crema or the equivalent to half and half. I don’t use them because I feel the cake is rich, decadent and thick and creamy enough. But everyone’s taste is different so feel free to experiment if you’d like.
What Are Maria Cookies
Maria cookies or biscuits are a type of digestive cookie that is not too sweet, so perfect for the very sweet condensed milk.
They are very popular throughout Latin American and many other parts of the World. This makes it easy to find them pretty much everywhere. You can check the foreign food aisle, Hispanic markets or even Amazon carries many different brands.
No-Bake Lime Cake & Perfect For Any Occasion
One of the things I love most about this dessert is that there’s little preparation involved and there’s no baking. Since I live in year-round summer this is a big plus for me!
Now that the holiday season is approaching the carlota de limon would be perfect so you can prep it ahead of time and just leave in the fridge until ready to serve. Also, it’s light citrus taste is a perfect balance to a heavy holiday meal.
How is Mexican Lime Icebox Cake Made
It’s so easy! All you do is blend the liquid ingredients, then layer the mix with the maria cookies, sprinkle some lime zest, refrigerate and ¡listo! Ready to eat.
Isn’t it crazy just how easy it is?!
Ok, let me share my recipe with you. Do watch the video for a visual guide.
Carlota De Limón (Mexican Lime Icebox Cake)
- baking dish*
- 6 small or 3/4 cup juice Mexican limes or key limes juiced
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 1 can condensed milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Maria cookies 2 packs or more depending on the shape & size of your dish(es)
- lime zest
- lime slices for decorating
- baking dish*
- Juice the limes then strain them through a fine sieve and pour into a blender. Pour in the evaporated and condensed milks the add the vanilla extract. Blend for a couple of minutes or just until you achieve a smooth mixture. Don’t over do it so you don’t end up with lots of air bubbles.
- In a baking dish pour in a little bit of the sauce then arrange a single layer of Maria cookies. Next pour in a bit of the milk mixture over the cookies to coat them and use a spoon or spatula to help smooth, then add another layer of cookies and so on repeating until you have used up all of the milk mixtures. If you’d like you can break up some cookies to use to fill in the small gaps of the others (see video).
- I would suggest that you try no to do more than 4 or 5 layers of cookies so that they don’t overpower the taste of the lime-milk mixture. They will soak up the liquid so you also don’t want too many of them because it’ll just end up being like a big soggy cookie — no one wants that!
- The last or top layer should end with the milk mixture. Make sure you try to smooth it over as much as possible. I also like to give the dish a gentle tap on the table to help with any air bubbles. Coat the top layer with lime zest, if desired but will add an additional nice strong lime taste. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap or its own lid and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. I like to leave mine in the fridge overnight to make sure the dessert has solidified enough and also so the cookies have soaked up the milk mixture.
- When ready to serve slice into as many and whatever size square pieces you’d like. If you’re not eating/serving the whole dessert at once do put it back in the refrigerator so it stays solid. This carlota de limon will keep in the fridge for up to a week but preferably consume in 2 days or the cookies become too soggy — still tastes great but the texture isn’t so nice.
What Does a Carlota De Limón Taste Like
A carlota de limón taste a little bit like heaven.
It tastes like a smooth, creamy whipped cream — but like the good, thick full fat whipped creams not the stuff out of a can. It has an airiness to it like the way a chocolate mousse does. The cookies turn into a perfect texture that’s neither crisp nor soggy.
It just kind of melts into your mouth.
There’s the velvety, sweet flavors from the condensed milk and hints of sweet from the Maria cookies. Then the tartness from the lime juice and the essence of the vanilla just tickles your tastebuds.
This is the perfect balance of sweet and tart in each bite. It feels like a refreshing dessert that’s sweet, but not a sweetness that leaves you feeling empalagoso or one that lingers for too long.
It’s a dessert that will satisfy the sweet craving but won’t leave you with a heaviness that most cakes can.
A Dessert for Any Occasion
If you ever find yourself in a pinch needing to prep a recipe in a short amount of time, this is that dessert. It’s perfect for a dinner party or holiday party and I promise your guests will be impressed and very satisfied.