Florida Trip + Key Lime Cheesecake with a Nilla Wafer Crust

Hello, again! In early February my number one fan and I flew down to sunny Florida to visit my mom and her love interest for several days. This tropical trip inspired my latest recipe, Key Lime Cheesecake (with a Nilla wafer crust), which I will get to in just a minute after I share a few photos from our trip.

PART 1: SOUTHWEST FLORIDA

We narrowly escaped ANOTHER bout of freezing rain at home to find ourselves basking in the sun (and humidity) among the Florida palm trees. ???? It was the perfect escape.

Florida trip - Beware of Alligators Florida trip - Gulf of Mexico

We spent some time lounging at the neighborhood pool, a day at Bonita Beach, swimming in the Gulf of Mexico, and spent an afternoon at the Naples Botanical Garden, soaking in the beautiful, tropical plant life we certainly don’t have here in Portland. ????

Florida trip - Naples Botanical Garden Florida trip - Naples Botanical Garden

The Naples Botanical Garden had a Butterfly Room, Orchid Garden, preserved wetlands and plants and flowers from all over the world. We saw plenty of pelicans, herons and even an alligator! ????

Florida trip - Naples Botanical Garden

There was so much lush vegetation here, we couldn’t stop taking pictures.

Florida trip - Naples Botanical Garden Florida trip - Naples Botanical Garden

PART 2: KEY WEST

Midweek we took a ferry down to Key West where we finished up the last few days of our sunny vacay. While in the Keys, we tried everything we could get our hands on that was flavored key lime: key lime pie (obviously), frozen drinks, key lime pie ice cream and even conch fritters with key lime aioli (bomb!). ????

Florida Trip - Key West 

Key West was absolutely beautiful, the epitome of paradise. I’ve never seen anything like a Key West sunset! ????

Florida trip - Key West

We enjoyed a little brunch on Duval street and got a kick out of all the iguanas that roamed the pool area of our hotel. We even caught one stopping for a drink out of the pool!

Florida Trip - Key West Florida Trip - Key West

Another sunset and shades, tourist tees and coconut drinks!

Florida Trip - Key West

THE RECIPE: KEY LIME CHEESECAKE

We reluctantly said goodbye to Key West, but I knew the trip would inspire me to make something new, incorporating the tangy key lime flavor you’ll find all over the island. I thought about making a key lime pie, but the ones we tried were so overly sweet, and maybe even too limey (if that’s a thing). I wanted to bake something key lime flavored but certainly wanted to cut back on the sweetness so I didn’t feel the need to put down my fork after two bites.

 

I decided to use my fave cheesecake recipe and adjust it for an added key lime flavor. My “baking assistant” suggested I try a Nilla wafer crust and I loved this idea as an alternative to the graham cracker crust I most likely would have used. The sweet vanilla cookie  in the crust ended up pairing nicely with the tangy kick of the key lime cheesecake.

Key Lime Cheesecake with Nilla Wafer Crust

So, without further ado, here is how to make this creamy Key Lime Cheesecake with a Nilla Wafer Crust:

Print Recipe
Key Lime Cheesecake with Nilla Wafer Crust
A rich, creamy cheesecake that's not overly sweet. With just the right amount of tangy key lime flavor, it's paired with a sweet, vanilla crunch in the Nilla wafer crust.
Key Lime Cheesecake with a Nilla Wafer Crust
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1.5 hours
Passive Time 7 hours
Servings
16 slices
Ingredients
Nilla Wafer Crust
  • 2 ½ cups (1 - 11oz box) Nilla wafers crushed
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
Cheesecake Filling
  • 4 - 8oz packages cream cheese softened to room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 4 large eggs room temperature
  • 3 large egg yolks room temperature
  • ½ cup key lime juice (about 10 key limes)
  • cup whipping cream room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • green food coloring optional
  • yellow food coloring optional
Sour Cream Layer
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon key lime zest (about 3 key limes)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1.5 hours
Passive Time 7 hours
Servings
16 slices
Ingredients
Nilla Wafer Crust
  • 2 ½ cups (1 - 11oz box) Nilla wafers crushed
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
Cheesecake Filling
  • 4 - 8oz packages cream cheese softened to room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 4 large eggs room temperature
  • 3 large egg yolks room temperature
  • ½ cup key lime juice (about 10 key limes)
  • cup whipping cream room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • green food coloring optional
  • yellow food coloring optional
Sour Cream Layer
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon key lime zest (about 3 key limes)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Key Lime Cheesecake with a Nilla Wafer Crust
Instructions
For the Nilla Wafer Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Spray a 10" springform pan with non-stick spray.
  2. Process Nilla wafer cookies to crumbs. In a medium-sized bowl, combine crumbs with melted butter, mix well.
  3. Pour crumbs into springform pan and evenly pack along bottom and slightly up sides of pan to form crust. Refrigerate crust while preparing cheesecake filling.
For the Cheesecake Filling
  1. Slice key limes in half and juice until you've prepared ½ cup juice. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Scrape down sides of bowl with a spatula. Add 1¼ cups sugar, beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix in flour. While beating continuosly, add eggs and yolks, mixing until smooth. Beat in key lime juice, whipping cream and vanilla.
  3. Optional: Add 1 drop green food coloring and 1 drop yellow food coloring to give the cheesecake a key lime color. Mix well.
  4. Pour the cheesecake batter over the prepared crust. Place springform pan on a baking sheet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes at 425° F. Reduce oven temperature to 225° F and bake an additional 60-70 minutes, or until cheesecake center has set.
For the Sour Cream Layer
  1. Remove cheesecake from oven and increase oven temperature to 350° F.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together sour cream, ¼ cup sugar, lime zest and vanilla extract. Pour on top of cheesecake, spreading evenly and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until sour cream layer has set.
  3. Remove cheesecake from oven and let cool (1 hour+) before placing in the refrigerator. Refrigerate approximately six hours before slicing to make sure the center has had enough time to cool completely.
Recipe Notes
  1. If you're short on key limes, first collect zest of about 3 limes (1 tablespoon), setting zest aside later for the sour cream layer. Then, use these zested limes to start juicing.
  2. I didn't have a juicer to speed up the juicing process, but because key limes are so small, I sliced the limes in half and crushed each half with a garlic mincer to squeeze out the juice. You could even squeeze the lime halves by hand if needed. I placed a sieve over a measuring cup to keep any seeds or pulp from getting in the juice as I measured. It took about 10 key limes to create a ½ cup of juice.
  3. I wanted the cheesecake to look lime-flavored, so I colored the cheesecake filling with a drop of green and yellow food coloring to look more like a traditional key lime pie. A little food coloring goes a long way so use color sparingly, mixing thoroughly before adding in additional color.

I hope you like it! Happy baking!

With sprinkles on top,
Love, Britt

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2 Comments

  1. Oh my gosh, this looks fabulous! Do you know if it can be frozen? Don’t want to eat an entire cheesecake…actually I do, but it probably isn’t a great idea.

    1. Yes, it can totally be frozen and freezes really well. I put any extra slices in an air-tight container and separate them with a little piece of wax paper so I can easily take one out at a time from the freezer.

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