Carlota De Limón (Mexican Icebox Cake)

This Carlota de Limón is so creamy and with an amazing tangy kick! A Mexican icebox cake to serve to your family and friends. This easy dessert is very refreshing and a perfect treat for any season, the highlight of this recipe is its refreshing, tangy, lemony flavor.

Carlota de limón in a baking dish and decorated with whipped cream and lime slices.

About

Carlota de limón is an easy icebox Mexican cake made with layers of Maria cookies and tangy-sweet lime cream. The recipe is a variation of the famous Charlotte Cake and is widely popular in Mexico and other Latin American countries.

This popular dessert is made by assembling the ingredients in a dish and placing the final product in the refrigerator so that after sitting for a while it can be cut and served as a regular cake, holding its shape perfectly.

The flavors come from freshly squeezed limes, sweetened condensed milk, and evaporated milk. To bring texture to the cake, the layers include Galletas Marías a cookie very similar to Graham Crackers.

The cookie layers give it an interesting texture profile. The creaminess from the evaporated milk and condensed milk, plus the melting cookie crumble, make it utterly divine. This dessert is pure pleasure.

Carlota de Limón is known also with other names, such as pastel Carlota, postre de limón, or pay de limón con galletas Marías.

A close-up of the carlota de limón insides texture.
*Carlota de Limón Receta*

What is an icebox cake?

  • In simple words, it is a no-bake cake. Something that doesn’t require baking. The icebox cake concept was introduced somewhere around the 1930s.
  • The main purpose was to provide the housewives with relaxation when preparing an easy, yet delicious dessert.
  • It was introduced as a kitchen appliance that housewives would use for preparing different desserts. 
  • 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

  • Maria cookies: Marie cookies (galletas Marías) are round biscuits very popular in Mexico. They have a vanilla flavor and give body and texture to this dessert. You can substitute this ingredient with Graham crackers or vanilla biscuits that have similar texture and flavor.
  • Key limes: Key limes are aromatic and very tart in flavor. They are perfect for bringing in citrusy flavor in this dessert.
  • Evaporated milk: This is a type of milk that is reduced on low flame for several hours to eliminate the water content in it. It has a creamy consistency and a rich flavor with a light gold hue. You can find evaporated at many grocery stores. Furthermore, you can also make evaporated milk at home.
  • Condensed milk: Sweetened condensed milk is also made from milk. However, it is different from evaporated milk because it is sweet in flavor. It also has a rich and creamy consistency. It is also super easy to find at many grocery stores or make your own condensed milk at home.
The ingredients for carlota de limón labeled and displayed on a marble surface.

How To Make Carlota De Limon

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 lime cream with a spoon.

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).

Assemble:

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 Carlota de limon 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 Carlota lime cake decorated with whipped cream, lime zest, and lime slices.

Notes

  • Sub limes. 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.
  • Make Ahead. You can make this lime carlota cake up to 3 days ahead, then just decorate it with the whipped cream before serving.
  • Store. Place leftovers in a glass container, cover, and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Make it vegan. Use coconut milk and cream instead of condensed and evaporated milk for a vegan and dairy-free version.
  • Gluten-free. Use a gluten-free brand of tea biscuits instead of Maria cookies.

How To Store

Keep the cake leftovers covered with cling film in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months and eat it as a frozen dessert. Don’t thaw completely or it will become soggy, just allow to slightly soften in the refrigerator and then serve.

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.
  • Flan de Elote – Silky and with amazing corn taste, this flan is a favorite!

The Video

Carlota de limón Recipe.

Carlota de Limón

author Maricruz
6 servings
Carlota de limón is a Mexican icebox cake so delicious and refreshing with a lemony flavor and so easy to make! Serve with whipped cream and enjoy this summery dessert any day of the week!
prep 10 minutes
Resting time 4 hours
total 4 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 2 packages Maria cookies (read notes)
  • 1-12 oz can evaporated milk
  • 1-14 oz can 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).

Assemble 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 it 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

  • You can replace Maria cookies with digestive biscuits or graham crackers.
  • 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 for the mixture to thicken and the flavor will change slightly, but you will still enjoy a delicious Mexican icebox cake!
Nutrition Information
Serving: 1 serving | 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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  1. 5 stars
    Loved the recipe! My mom used to make carlota de limon when I was a kid and I wanted to make it for my children now so I looked for a recipe and found this. It was delicious!