Carlota De Limón (mexican icebox cake)

Carlota de limon is a delicious Mexican icebox cake so refreshing, flavorsome and rich. A perfect dessert to serve to your family and friends!

The flavors come from freshly squeezed key limes, sweetened condensed milk, and evaporated milk. To bring texture to the cake, the layers include Galletas Marías (Maria cookies).

Carlota de limón on a glass baking dish from above.

This icebox cake is not just delicious to eat but is also super easy to make. The whole process takes no more than 15 minutes. Try this Carlota de limón recipe, and I am sure it will become everyone’s favourite in no time.

What is carlota de limon?

Carlota de limon is a delicious Mexican dessert that is very refreshing and a perfect treat for any season, but it’s specially appreciated during summer since it’s served cold.

It is actually a no-bake cake, which means you don’t need to bake the ingredients. Instead, you have to place the final product in the refrigerator so that it holds the shape which ensembles a cake.

A close up of the carlota de limón inside's texture.

This dessert is made with layers of Marie cookies and a cream mixture. The highlight of this dessert is its refreshing, tangy, lemony flavor. The layers give it an interesting textur profile. The creaminess from the evaporated milk and condensed milk plus the melting cookie crumble utterly divine. This dessert is pure pleasure.

What is an icebox cake?

In simple words, it is a no-bake cake. Something that doesn’t require baking. However, not many of us know how the concept came into being. The icebox cake concept was introduced somewhere around the 1930s. The main purpose was to provide the housewives with relaxation when preparing a dessert. It was introduced as a kitchen appliance that the housewives would use for preparing different desserts. 

Related article: The Truth About Ice Box Cake.

However, soon it opened new doors for desserts. An icebox cake is essentially a layered dessert, like tiramisù for example. The layers include cream, fruits, wafers or pudding. The ingredients are stacked upon each other, and then the box is placed in the refrigerator for several hours.

A slice of carlota de limón on a plate.

Ingredients You Need

  • Evaporated milk: evaporated milk is a type of milk that is reduced on low flame for several hours to eliminate the water content in milk. It has a creamy consistency and a rich flavour and is light gold. You can easily find evaporated milk from any grocery store. Furthermore, you can also make it at home.
  • Condensed milk: Sweetened condensed milk is also made from milk. However, it is different from evaporated milk because it is sweet in flavour. It also has a rich and creamy consistency and is delicious. It is also super easy to find at any grocery store or make your own condensed milk.
  • Key limes: Key limes are aromatic and very tart in flavour. They are perfect for bringing in citrusy flavour in the dessert. However, you can also use fresh limes.
  • Maria cookies: Marie cookies (galletas Marías) are circular biscuits very popular in Mexico. They have a vanilla flavour and give body and texture to this dessert. Here where I live is not easy to find those, so I am using a different local cookie brand (called petite) that has a similar texture and flavor.
The ingredients labeled and displayed on a marble surface.

How To Make Carlota De Limon

Make the cream

Add evaporated milk and condensed milk to a blender and start blending at medium speed. Remove the cover of the blender’s lid and while the blender is still working, pour in the lime juice and blend until thick (about 5 minutes).

Showing the consistency of the cream.

Important: If your blender doesn’t have a hole on the lid, just set the speed to the lowest and carefully uncover, add the lime juice while still blending at low, until you’ll achieve a thick and smooth mixture (6-7 minutes).

Prepare the icebox cake:

In a casserole dish add two or three tablespoons of the cream and using a spoon, spread it to cover evenly the bottom of the dish.

Now, place a layer of cookies trying to fill as much as possible, you can also break two or three cookies to cover the gaps between cookies.

The first layer of cream and cookies on the dish.

Add more cream mixture on top of cookies and spread to cover them well.

Keep doing layers of cookies and cream mixture until your casserole dish is almost full or the ingredients are gone, making sure the last layer on top will be cream.

The carlota cake fully assembled before resting.

Cover the dish with cling film and store in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving. Even though, I strongly recommend refrigerating overnight.

The cake after overnight resting.
Carlota de limón after resting overnight.

Decorate

  • In a mixer bowl add heavy whipping cream and confectioner’s sugar. With an electric mixer mix until stiff peaks form.
  • Remove the dish from the refrigerator and spread on top (or pipe) the whipped cream.
  • Add some lime slices and zest to decorate the dish and serve right away.
The cake decorated with whipped cream, lime zest and lime slices.

Notes

  • If you can’t find limes or key limes, add regular lemon juice. It will take a while the mixture to thick and the flavor will change slightly, but you will still enjoy a delicious Mexican icebox cake!

Watch How To Make It

Other Mexican desserts

  • Cortadillos – a cute and delicious sponge cake perfect to serve as a birthday cake!
  • Tres Leches Cake – The ultimate Mexican cake that everyone loves.
  • Cajeta – This delicious Mexican spread is perfect to eat with cookies, or on top of ice cream.
  • Fresas con crema – A simple dessert of the classic strawberries and cream in the Mexican version.
Carlota de limón on a glass dish.

Carlota de limon (Mexican icebox cake)

Carlota de limón is a Mexican ice box cake so delicious and refresingh with a lemony flavor and so easy to make!
PREP 10 minutes
TOTAL 4 hours 10 minutes
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Servings: 6

Ingredients 

  • 2 packages Maria cookies (read notes)
  • 12 oz can evaporated milk
  • 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • ¾ cup lime juice (about 6 limes)

for decorating

  • 1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp confectioner's sugar
  • lime slices
  • lime zest

Instructions

  • Add evaporated milk and condensed milk to a blender and start blending at medium speed.
  • Remove the cover of the blender’s lid and while the blender is still working, pour in the lime juice and blend until thick (about 5 minutes).

Prepare the icebox cake:

  • In a casserole dish add two or three tablespoons of the cream and spread it to cover evenly the bottom of the dish.
  • Cover with a layer of cookies. Then cover with more cream.
  • Make layers of cookies and cream mixture until your casserole dish is almost full or the ingredients are gone, making sure the last layer on top will be cream.
  • Cover the dish and store in the fridge for at least 4 hours or even better, overnight.

Decorate

  • In a mixer bowl add heavy whipping cream and confectioner’s sugar. With an electric mixer mix until stiff peaks form.
  • Remove the dish from the refrigerator and spread on top (or pipe) the whipped cream.
  • Decorate with lime slices and zest and serve immediately.

notes

  • If your blender doesn’t have a hole on the lid, just set the speed to the lowest and carefully uncover, add the lime juice while still blending at low, until you’ll achieve a thick and smooth mixture (6-7 minutes).
  • If you can’t find limes or key limes, add regular lemon juice. It will take a while the mixture to thick and the flavor will change slightly, but you will still enjoy a delicious Mexican icebox cake!
Nutrition
Calories: 522kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Cholesterol: 120mg | Sodium: 198mg | Potassium: 505mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 43g | Vitamin A: 1202IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 382mg | Iron: 1mg
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