raspberries, key limes & a shortbread tart crust

raspberry-key lime & raspberry tarts, with the best shortbread tart crust recipe via milissweets.com

I can’t get enough of desserts with fresh berries and citrus. I wanted to make something extra special for our Easter celebration, so I made two different tarts to complement one another, in one of my favorite fruit and berry combinations: key limes and raspberries.

The crust is an incredibly important part of the tart. I’m really excited to share my super easy and delicious shortbread tart crust recipe and how-to. I love this recipe so much, that the ratio of crust to curd/fruit filling is a lot higher for my tarts. It’s just what I prefer. This recipe is also perfect for making lemon bars. If you prefer less crust, I recommend you cut the shortbread tart crust recipe in half.

raspberry-key lime & raspberry tarts, with the best shortbread tart crust recipe via milissweets.com

I’ve been loving fresh curd/fruit fillings in my desserts for spring. So far I’ve made lemon, orange, key lime and raspberry. If you’re a big fan of lemon, simply use my lemon curd/pie filling recipe from my lemon meringue pie post. The recipes will be exactly the same, except for omitting the citrus zest when using berries. Below I’ll demonstrate the raspberry curd/filling.

All right. Let’s make a tart! You will first need to prepare the crust.

the best shortbread tart crust recipe via milissweets.com

Shortbread Tart Crust Recipe by Mili’s Sweets

Here’s what you’ll need:

18 tablespoons of butter (2 sticks, plus two tablespoon)

2 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour

6 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

the best shortbread tart crust recipe via milissweets.com

Here’s what you’ll do:

Place all of the ingredients into the bowl of your standing mixer. Use the paddle attachment and mix on low until all ingredients have literally lifted from the bowl, forming the dough.

Before handling the dough, prepare the pan with a light amount of cooking spray and set aside a small amount of flour to powder your hands. (The spray is probably not necessary with a non-stick pan, but I tend to be overly careful use it anyway.)

I used a 7″ x 11″ rectangle tart pan. The dough will form a ball in your hands within seconds. Place your formed ball in the center of the pan and arrange it so that it completely covers the pan and goes up to the top of the sides. To have a beautiful finish, where the tart will have the ridges of the pan, use your hand and thumb to push the excess dough away from the top edge of the pan.

the best shortbread tart crust recipe via milissweets.com

Next, use a fork to make an edging and a toothpick to poke holes at the bottom of the dough (so that when you bake it, it doesn’t misshape). Cover with plastic wrap and allow to chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes. You can have this prepared in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. When you are ready, bake at 350 degrees for 22 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to completely cool before pouring in your fruit curd of choice.

the best shortbread tart crust recipe via milissweets.com

Mili’s Sweets Raspberry Curd/Filling Recipe

Here’s what you’ll need:

1/2 cup of salted butter (two sticks), softened

1 cup sugar

2 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup raspberry puree (blended fresh berries, with seeds strained/removed)

(For Key Lime Curd/Filling, use the zest of 6-8 key limes, along with substituting the puree with 1/3 cup of freshly-squeezed lime juice. Place the zest, after your butter has been creamed to the bottom of your standing mixer bowl. It will take about a dozen key limes, depending on their size.)

raspberry curd filling via milissweets.com

Here’s what you’ll do:

In a standing mixer, with a paddle attachment or scraping paddle attachment, on medium-speed, cream the softened butter until it completely covers the bottom of the mixing bowl. (If you are making the key-lime version, you’ll now mix in the zest.)

Add the sugar and salt. Mix until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until all are incorporated. Mix in the raspberry puree last.

Pour the mixture into a saucepan at medium heat. Use a whisk to constantly stir the ingredients. Use a timer to keep your time of 10 minutes. In 6-7 minutes, you’ll notice that it will start to bubble. It will also be turning a deeper pink color. At that point, lower the heat to medium-low and continue whisking. By the end of the 10 minutes your arm might be a little sore but it will be worth it. Once the 10 minutes are up, remove the pan from heat.

Pour the hot mixture directly into the cooled, prepared pie crust. Use an offset spatula to spread the filling evenly. I don’t like to use plastic wrap to cover tarts before I refrigerate, since it creates snags in the filling. Place the tart into the refrigerator as is, for at least 2 and a half hours, or until you are ready to serve.

key lime and raspberry tarts, with the best shortbread tart crust recipe via milissweets.com

When you are ready to serve and the tart has been removed from the pan and plated, decorate and garnish by placing fresh berries and slices of lime at the top of the tart. It would also be beautiful if the tart was completely covered with only slices of key lime or only fresh raspberries.

key lime and raspberry tarts, with the best shortbread tart crust recipe via milissweets.com

The end result is a vibrant, delicious and memorable dessert. I hope you’ll be able to make one of these tarts or any of the fresh curds this spring. If you do, and use my recipes, please let me know how it goes!

xox, Mili



[…] You’ll want to go back to my previous post, to make either Gluten-Free Pie Crust, or Shortbread Tart Crust. Either one is divine. The shortbread is a little more dense than that pie crust, which will be […]

[…] While your ganache is cooling, you can prepare your shortbread cookie dough. It’s exactly the same recipe I use for the shortbread crust for my Key Lime and Raspberry Tart Recipes. […]

my time and aprons

At this point in my life, I get to put on quite a few different aprons. Before I start my day’s work, it’s a must that I hang up any ego since it would just get in the way.

If at any time, I’m feeling slightly proud of myself for what I had accomplished in a day, my triumphs are mini and only done for the sake of giving what I can give at that very moment. My uniform shows me and others that I am a sort of servant. I embrace it. I love that I can contribute. It brings me to my true self who somehow has God-given gifts, despite my many current and eventual limitations.

For example, it feels amazing when I am able to do all of the laundry, without making a mountain of clothes to iron. However, while I’m in the zone of doing my least-favorite chore, I’m thankful that I have the strength and health to make it happen.

When I gave in, against my motto, and signed up for too much after school with the kids, and wake up early to get dinner prepped by 6am, it feels like my apron has suddenly turned into a crown, that only my family can see. If it’s hard and I’m tired, I just switch up my thought process and give thanks that I have this beautiful family to help take care of.

Sometimes I miss the old jobs that I once had, like changing diapers and making baby food but those days are gone. I do, however, appreciate those who are in-deep with these difficult jobs and try to hold a baby (even crying) whenever possible. I’ve learned that having older or independent kids doesn’t mean easier work, it is just a different (but still very good and rewarding) time in this life.

I often find myself, not in a hurry, but with desire to do as much as I possibly can, as if I won’t have many tomorrows. I really don’t over commit anymore and be sure to only say yes to what I can handle. Sometimes I daydream of accomplishing more. . .

And then there’s the apron I wear when I’m a baker or doing what’s needed to run my little business. This one is a blessing too, because it is a special opportunity to create and to do what I enjoy. It is fun and rewarding, but it’s also extremely humbling.

I remember making pumpkin pies years ago as a fundraiser for the youth group at my parish. An elderly woman ordered a few for her family. She told me that she admired my work and that there was a time when she could cook and bake, but she couldn’t physically do it anymore. She could no longer lift a pan. She didn’t have the strength to mix ingredients by hand. She was sad about that fact, but fondly remembered the time when she could. She told me that she was glad that I could be her hands.

Her words left an impression on me. I do think of her sometimes, as I work, and I understand my place. I find it an honor to be anyone’s hands. I also understand the possibility that one day, I might be in her position. While I can do what I do now, I want to do it. 

Once some of my little jobs are done, it’s nice to relax with those who love me most. Whether this time is spent during some much needed quiet and reflection at Mass, or at home, with my loved ones (all in my face the way I like them to be) – laughing, playing or helping – the time is my reward.

xox, Mili

I love this vintage pic of these ladies in their aprons. (I happened to crop out the pumps they were wearing.) If they had a bun on top of their heads, and no red lipstick, it might be a little more true-to-life.

For more of my personal writing, please see the “my stories” link in the ABOUT section of my blog.

my time and aprons - story via milissweets.com


dreamy whipped cream & strawberries

dreamy whipped cream & strawberries - recipe via milissweets.com Once you make whipped cream from scratch, there’s no going back. It’s an absolute dream!

I’m sharing my recipe for one of the best and simplest things you’ll make with a standing mixer, and it will take less than 2 minutes to complete.

Whipped cream was the first thing I tried to make when I received a standing mixer as a wedding gift. (My 4.5 quart Kitchen Aid is still going strong after 11 years of heavy use. I even used it in this post.)

dreamy whipped cream & strawberries - recipe via milissweets.com

Here’s what I use whipped cream for: waffles, pancakes, parfaits, zabaglione, cupcakes and cakes. The list goes on and on. My family especially loves it with fresh-cut strawberries. While strawberries are in peak-season, I’ll probably make whipped cream once a week for my sweethearts. If you are not a fan of strawberries or have an allergy, simply substitute with other fresh fruits or berries.

If you’d like to make this stack, please link to my recipe, Simple Saturday Pancakes. 

dreamy whipped cream & strawberries - recipe via milissweets.com

It’s a nice touch to add a drizzling of ganache to top your whipped cream, but honestly, the whipped cream will be the star. I absolutely love chocolate, but I have to be in the mood for it. With whipped cream, it’s a different story – there’s no mood required.

Mili’s Sweets Dreamy Whipped Cream

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 and 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

dreamy whipped cream & strawberries - recipe via milissweets.com

Here’s what you’ll do:

Place all of the ingredients into the bowl of your standing mixer. (I prefer the thickness and richness of Horizon Organic,  over other brands that I’ve tried.)

Use the whisk attachment to stir the ingredients inside the bowl, helping to dissolve the sugar, for about 10 seconds.

Attach the bowl and whisk to the standing mixer and gradually increase the mixing speed to 10, or the highest level. Use a stopwatch to time one minute and 20 seconds. It’s done! You now have dreamy whipped cream, and it took about the same time would take (for me) to unwrap a prepackaged-version.

dreamy whipped cream & strawberries - recipe via milissweets.com Here’s how I make parfaits, using the whipped cream:

dreamy whipped cream & strawberries - recipe via milissweets.com First I prep a bunch of beautiful strawberries. Make sure that they are washed thoroughly. I remove the tops and cut lengthwise, between 3-5 times, depending on the size of the berry.

dreamy whipped cream & strawberries - recipe via milissweets.com

I use small pedestal-style ice cream bowls, and place berry slices at the bottom. Next, I pipe on whipped cream, place more strawberries and pipe more whipped cream on the top. Depending on who it’s for, I might add a spoonful of fresh ganache or simply place fresh strawberries at the top, without the chocolate. Either way, my family is thrilled. I love how much they love it!

dreamy whipped cream & strawberries - recipe via milissweets.com


[…] my whipped cream recipe, please link to my previous […]

[…] a in-depth tutorial for making whipped cream from scratch, please see my whipped cream recipe post. If you are good to go, I’ll explain. It’s super easy, especially if you have a […]

celebrating my beautiful mother

for my beautiful mother, 70th birthday, floral dessert table, via milissweets.com

There’s no one like my mother. No one who knows me more, whom could ever love me the way that she loves me. No one has sacrificed more for me. Her example is one of the main reasons why I am who I am. It took me a while and a lot of growing up, to truly understand her life and the love that she has given.

for my beautiful mother, 70th birthday, floral dessert table, via milissweets.com

This is a woman who deserves to be celebrated! She always puts everyone first and never-ever wants to burden anyone with her personal needs or for any extra attention. She’s just amazing. She feels so loved and well-cared for as it is, so every day is a blessing . . . no need to make a fuss.

for my beautiful mother, 70th birthday, floral dessert table, via milissweets.com

My brother and I were about to change all of that. For her 70th, we wanted to make a fuss and threw her a beautiful birthday party. A whole year has passed, and she is still thanking us and cannot believe that it was all for her!

I invited mostly family and a few of her friends to lunch at Gaetano’s Restaurant in Lakeside. Owner, Maria DiGiovanni, has been friends with my family for so many years, and her food is so delicious – just like the food that we loved at big family gatherings when I was a child. I wanted the food to be authentic and something that my family could really enjoy.

for my beautiful mother, 70th birthday, floral dessert table, via milissweets.com

Of course, I would take care of dessert. However, the floral arrangements were the first thing on my mind. I wanted to honor my mother with beautiful flowers everywhere. “Abudanza” came to mind. I set an appointment with my dear friend Karen at Franco’s Flowers and with my own vases, she made my dreams come true.

I had more gorgeous blossoms in Double-Star Lilies, Dahlia, Peonies, Carnations and Roses in pale pinks and ivory, placed in individual water tubes to decorate the bottom of her elevated birthday cake.

for my beautiful mother, 70th birthday, floral dessert table, via milissweets.com“Pineapple-Coconut Paradise” is her favorite cake that I make. It’s a vanilla custard cake, (that I named “Vanilla Italia”) with fresh pineapple sauce soaked in. It’s filled with a layer of Italian custard and vanilla butter cream. It’s covered with whipped cream and lots of toasted coconut. She is diabetic but once a year, she is “bad” and has a slice of this dessert.

for my beautiful mother, 70th birthday, floral dessert table, via milissweets.com

Besides the cake, the centerpiece of the dessert table was a mural I made with special photos from her life. There was also a small white bird at the center. The invitation and decor was all about a little vintage bird, so I added lace and used birdcages and mason jars throughout the party setting.

for my beautiful mother, 70th birthday, floral dessert table, via milissweets.com

It takes a special maturity (a true gift if you can receive it in-time) to understand that your loved ones are really not all about you. At the beginning of this post, “me” was mentioned several times. That’s really how I felt through childhood – that my mom was all mine. God made her just for me. It wasn’t until I was about 18, when my mom was diagnosed with cancer, that I even began to realize how significant, rich and special her life was before I ever arrived and continued to be every day thereafter. I wanted to learn all about her life and  the best fact was, that it really wasn’t about me at all. I am just some seasoning in her beautiful life.

for my beautiful mother, 70th birthday, floral dessert table, via milissweets.com

I had a lot of vintage, handmade table linens and used them throughout the party as well. This was a special  table I set for guests, toward the entry. I wanted them to arrive, drop off their gift, and write her a well-wish or  love note. I placed additional old photographs to view and the framed tribute that I wrote for her:

70 Years of Maria Rosaria

Inside the five-foot frame that holds this beautiful woman,

is God-given strength and courage to move mountains.

On July 12, 1943, she was pronounced dead at birth,

as the seventh child of her family. Her mother saved her life.

At the age of 13, she followed her father’s dream of coming to America.

She entered the 6th grade, not speaking a word of English.

As a high school student, she had to become the woman of the house.

She takes pride in her impeccable work ethic.

She gives all that she has, and all of her personal time to

her faith, her family and to the poor.

She was a single-mother and raised two children.

While in hardship, she worked odd jobs to be sure

her children attended Catholic school.

She overcame poverty.

She always maintained her generosity.

She has worked for Mercy/Scripps Hospital a total of 34 years.

She survived cancer.

She collects rosaries.

She misses her mother every day.

Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II are her heroes.

She lives for the kisses she receives from her grandchildren.

We adore you, Maria Rosaria!

for my beautiful mother, 70th birthday, floral dessert table, via milissweets.com

This was the pretty birdcage arrangement placed at the gift/tribute table.

for my beautiful mother, 70th birthday, floral dessert table, via milissweets.com

I made very simple party favors. I packaged clear rock candies on a stick, with a Shabby-Chic-labeled thank you note. It was super simple and I had enough so that every guest (including children) could take one home.

for my beautiful mother, 70th birthday, floral dessert table, via milissweets.comEveryone loved the dessert table! Every single sweet vanished and guests took the time to come up and look at the mural. I made cupcakes in Double Dutch, Lemonade, Orange Dream and Tiramisu, chocolate chip cookies and I provided fresh apricots and cherries for the diabetics in our group.

The very best part of the entire day was when my mom blew out her candles. I wish I had a better camera on-hand that day, but despite the low-quality, you have to see the joy from the children and the look on my mom’s face – this moment was priceless!

for my beautiful mother, 70th birthday, floral dessert table, via milissweets.com

The children helped to place all 70 candles on the cake. As soon as they were lit, I had to move fast to present it to her! Thank goodness my hair was back because that was a serious flame! The children and their joy really helped to make this moment so incredibly special.

This was a day my family and especially my mom, will never forget. She’ll be 71 next weekend and I can’t wait to celebrate her sweetness and her heart of gold, all over again.

xox, Mili

celebrating my beautiful mother - via milissweets.com

swati - February 17, 2016 - 9:39 pm

loved this post.I could feel your mom’s happiness through your words.

sweetsbymili@gmail.com - April 4, 2016 - 10:03 pm

I’m just now seeing your note Swati. Thank you! Take care, Mili

orange-cranberry king cake

orange-cranberry King Cake - recipe and how-to via milissweets.com

I’m sharing my spin on King Cake. My version is delicious and fluffy, made with one of my favorite items to bake with: orange zest. Cranberry glaze is folded into the dough, taking this tradition over the top!

If you’d like to order one that we’ll be hand made and offered at MiaBella, please pre-order via our website: www.milissweetstogo.com or via this link: http://www.milissweetstogo.com/store/p123/King_Cake_for_Fat_Tuesday_.html

My kids and I have loved making this traditional sweet bread together for the last few years. This time, I’m sharing my recipe and a couple different ways to prepare this delightful treat, including the use of a Bundt pan, which is now my favorite method.

Families all over the world enjoy King Cake to either celebrate the Epiphany, (when the three kings visited baby Jesus, on January 6) or the day before Lent begins. (Lent is the 40 days of sacrifice before Easter Sunday.) Either way, there should be a toy baby (symbolizing baby Jesus) found inside the cake. All of this fun started in 12th century France. Today you’ll find the cakes typically decorated with sprinklings of yellow, purple and green. This year, I went GOLD for our pre-Lent celebration.

This is a super easy recipe. You just need to have some time on your hands. Set aside 4 hours for rising and bake time. Trust me. Like most wonderful things in your life, it’s worth the extra love and time. I hope you’ll try to make this once. You’ll love it so much that I’m sure you’ll want to make it every year from now on! Let’s do this. . .

Mili’s Sweets Orange-Cranberry King Cake Recipe

Here’s what you’ll need for the dough:

In a large bowl: 2 cups all purpose flour

in a small bowl: 2 cups all purpose flour with 1 teaspoon iodized salt

1 packet or 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup fat free milk

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

3 extra large eggs (at room temperature – you can run them under warm water)

2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

zest of one large orange

1 egg white (for the wash before baking)

Here’s what you’ll need for the cranberry glaze, to fold inside the dough:

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from the orange zested for the dough)

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup powdered sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

extra tools: plastic pastry scraper, metal pastry cutter, Bundt pan, saucepan, cookie sheet, offset spatula

orange-cranberry King Cake - recipe and how-to via milissweets.com

Here’s what you’ll do:

Start by scalding the milk. Put the 1/2 cup of fat free milk and 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream in a saucepan and heat until you see small bubbles forming on the edge. Remove from heat.

While the milk cools, prepare to activate the dry yeast. In a cup, warm 1/4 cup of water in the microwave for 10 seconds. Add the contents of the packet and and stir to dissolve. Allow to active. In 10 minutes, both the yeast and the milk will be ready, so that you can begin preparing the dough.

Next, in a standing mixer, with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until it covers the bottom of the bowl. Add the 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and then the eggs, one at a time. Beat it for about 20 seconds. The end result will look like super-fluffy scrambled eggs.

Now you’re ready to put the pieces of the dough together. In the large bowl you’ve prepared with the 2 cups of flour, make a well in the center. Add the mixture of activated yeast, then the warm milk. Mix together with your hands or a plastic pastry scraper. Once incorporated, add the butter-sugar-egg mixture and completely combine.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a cold oven for an hour and a half.

Here’s what the process looks like:

orange-cranberry King Cake - recipe and how-to via milissweets.com

The next step is to add the 2 cups of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt that you have already set aside in a small bowl. Mix this in with the use of your pastry scraper. Then add the zest of one large orange.

Once the orange zest is incorporated, cover the bowl with a cloth. Return it to your cold oven and allow it to rise for an additional hour.

While your dough is enjoying it’s second-rise, prepare the cranberry glaze that will be folded in before it’s baked.


Here’s how to make the cranberry glaze:

Squeeze out all of the juice from the large orange you used to flavor the dough. It should give you about 1/2 cup. If you don’t have 1/2 cup of juice, make up the difference with either more orange juice or water.

In a saucepan, over medium heat, stir juice, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Once smooth, with the sugars dissolved, add the 1/2 cup dried cranberries and pure vanilla extract. Stir and remove from heat.

The glaze will be cooled and ready to use, once your dough is ready.

orange-cranberry King Cake - recipe and how-to via milissweets.com

This recipe will make two King Cakes. (One to share and one to keep. Or two to share. xox) When the dough is ready, use a pastry cutter to divide it.

I’m sharing two different ways to prepare to bake the dough. There’s the typical way, with a cookie sheet and then there’s a method I tried for the first time, using a Bundt pan. (Made sense to me!) Turns out using the Bundt is my favorite way to prepare this cake.

For the Bundt pan method: Spray and flour the pan so that it is prepared for the dough.

For the typical method: Place parchment paper or a silpat mat over the cookie sheet/pan.

orange-cranberry King Cake - recipe and how-to via milissweets.comPlace 1/2 of the dough on a clean, flat surface, dusted with a liberal amount of flour.

Assemble the piece of dough together and lay flat.

Spoon the cranberry glaze over the dough. Then, fold it over once. Gently twist and lengthen the dough so that you can form a circle.

* Please note that the dough should be handled as little as possible and there is no need to kneed.

Place the twisted dough in either the Bundt pan or at the center of the prepared cookie sheet.

Sprinkle it with a light dusting of flour at the top and sides. Believe it or not, it’s going to rise again!

Cover with a cloth, and return it to your cold oven for one additional, and final hour.

Here’s a peek at  the process when using a Bundt pan:

orange-cranberry King Cake - recipe and how-to via milissweets.com

When the dough is in the “after rise” stage, you can finally turn your oven on!

(This is one of the reasons why patience is a virtue.)

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

This is the time I put the in the baby! When I make the cake for my family, there are at least 3 babies, but typically you’ll place just one plastic toy in the cake.  I like to do my teeth a favor, and I place the baby at the very bottom of my baking-pan, so that I can spot the bottom when I eat my slice. This is best, since digging around in your cake doesn’t seem like the proper thing to do.

orange-cranberry King Cake - recipe and how-to via milissweets.com

Prepare an egg wash, by whisking an egg white. Brush it onto the top of the dough.

Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Here’s the process when using the cookie sheet method:

orange-cranberry King Cake - recipe and how-to via milissweets.com

You can see from the examples, that you’ll have a bigger cake with the cookie sheet method. It will both rise and spread. I prefer it to rise rather than spread, to have a more controlled size. (Yes. I have issues.) However, moving the cake from the cookie sheet is a lot easier. You’ll have to allow the cake to completely cool, and use an offset spatula to loosen all of the edges, to remove the cake from the Bundt pan. Then, place a plate under it, hold the two together and turn it upside down to remove.

orange-cranberry King Cake - recipe and how-to via milissweets.com

Once the cake is cooled, you’ll want to ice it. You can make royal icing or do what I do, by making a batch of vanilla butter cream frosting and melting it a bit in the microwave. I use a plastic sandwich bag as my piping bag, cut a corner for my “tip,” and coat the top in a back and forth motion. This is the moment you’ll want to have your sprinkles on-hand.

orange-cranberry King Cake - recipe and how-to via milissweets.com

This is such a special treat and I’m glad it’s part of our family’s pre-Lent tradition.