Carlota De Limón (Mexican Icebox Cake)

Carlota de Limon is a delicious Mexican icebox cake with a creamy texture and a tangy kick. A perfect and easy dessert to serve to your family and friends.

This Mexican dessert is very refreshing and a perfect treat for any season, but it’s especially appreciated during summer since it’s served cold.

Carlota de limón on a glass baking dish from above.

This Mexican 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 Limon recipe, and I am sure it will become everyone’s favorite in no time.

What is Carlota de Limon?

Carlota de limón is an easy no-bake Mexican cake made out of lime cream and cookies. The recipe is a variation of the famous Charlotte Cake and is widely popular in Mexico.

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) a cookie very similar to Graham Crackers.

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

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.

How It’s Made?

This dessert is made with layers of Marie cookies and a cream mixture made out of key limes, condensed, and evaporated milk. The highlight of this dessert is its refreshing, tangy, lemony flavor.

As with any other icebox cake, this 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.

A bowl with key limes.

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 an easy, yet delicious dessert.

It was introduced as a kitchen appliance that the housewives would use for preparing different desserts. 

A slice of carlota de limón on a plate.

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.

Ingredients You Need

  • 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.
  • Key limes: Key limes are aromatic and very tart in flavor. They are perfect for bringing in citrusy flavor in this dessert.
  • Maria cookies: Marie cookies (galletas Marías) are circular biscuits very popular in Mexico. They have a vanilla flavor 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 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).

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 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.

Useful Notes & Tips

  • 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 dessert 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.

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
Resting time 4 hours
TOTAL 4 hours 10 minutes
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 6
Author: Maricruz

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

  • 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 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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