This is a great pastry cream to use as a topping on shortcake-type desserts, in trifles, or simply mixed with fruit.  The mild lime complements mixed fruit, peaches, melons and other fruits very well.

This recipe makes about three cups of topping—perfect for a dessert topping.  To make the large key lime trifle, double the recipe.


4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon lime zest
3 large egg whites
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 envelope unflavored gelatin (.25 ounces)
2 tablespoons water


  1. With your handheld electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until it’s creamy. Add the lime juice and zest, and beat again until the ingredients are evenly distributed and smooth. Set aside.
  2. Place one inch of water in the bottom pan of a double boiler. Heat the water to simmering, but not boiling. Whisk together the egg whites and sugar in the top pan and place it over the simmering water. With the element set on low heat, continue to whisk the egg mixture until it reaches 110°F, about two to three minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
  3. With your handheld electric mixer, beat the egg white mixture on medium speed until it has doubled in volume and holds a soft peak, about five to seven minutes. Mix gelatin and water together, just to combine; then quickly add it to the egg whites. (If the gelatin sits for very long it will set up.) Beat on slow speed to thoroughly combine. Add the cheese mixture and beat just until smooth. The cream should still hold a soft peak and should mound up when dropped from a spoon.
  4. Store the cream in a covered bowl in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.

Baker’s note: If a double boiler is unavailable, you can make one by placing a small shallow bowl upside down in the pan of simmering water. Then set the bowl with egg mixture on top so that it’s close enough to the steam that it will heat up. (Do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water.)

Baker’s note: We found that the bowls of free-standing mixers are too deep for the amount of egg white mixture in this particular recipe; therefore, the egg whites don’t get beaten sufficiently to create the necessary volume and stiffness to form peaks. We recommend using a handheld electric mixer, instead.

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