All you need is 5 simple ingredients to make this Carlota de limón. It's sweet, tangy, and layered with thin Maria cookies to give you bursts of flavor in every bite.
This vegan version utilizes creamy coconut milk and cashews for an ultra-rich, tummy-friendly dessert the whole family can enjoy!
Table of Contents
If you're looking for a quick and easy dessert, you've come to the right place. With minimal effort, you'll end up with big flavors and an irresistible texture.
Seriously, you're going to be making this treat on repeat!
What is Carlota de limón?
In its simplest form, Carlota de limón is a no-bake dessert made from layers of cookies and cream. It's sometimes referred to as an icebox cake, postre de limón, or pastel Carlota.
In Mexico, you'll typically see Carlotas made with lime-infused cream and Maria biscuits (which are similar to digestive cookies or graham crackers).
The cream portion of a Carlota dessert is often made with key limes (or Persian limes), evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk.
Since it was originally created as an easy alternative to the Charlotte Russe, we kept this recipe just as simple in the spirit of things!
All you have to do is layer Maria cookies and our coconut milk filling, chill it, then devour your Carlota de limón!
As with many dishes in the Americas, the inspiration can often be traced back to Europe. Charlotte Russe is thought to have been created by the famous French chef Marie-Antoine Carême, who made this cake from ladyfingers and Bavarian cream.
A more simple version of this cake (termed "icebox cake") was eventually created from wafers and condensed milk. It was initially aimed at housewives as a no-bake dessert that could be chilled in the early refrigerator invention known as an "icebox."
Although it's a little unclear when or how this postre de limón made its way to Mexico, it's revered as an extremely tasty and popular dessert made from Maria cookies.
After waiting what seems like forever (around 5 hours), serve your Calorta de limón chilled with sliced fruit on top, lime zest, whipped coconut cream, toasted coconut shreds, or just as is.
After you eat this Carlota dessert, your tummy will thank you since it's 100% dairy-free.
🍲 Key ingredients
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
Taste: this creamy, rich, and decadent ingredient is perfect to emulate the dairy usually found in a Carlota dessert. Purchase a quality brand of coconut milk for sweet, floral, and slightly nutty flavors. If you can get your hands on any, coconut cream is even better.
Health: most of the calories in coconut milk come from medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are a special type of fatty acid. These fatty acids travel directly to the liver where they can be used for energy right away (therefore, less likely to be stored as fat).
Taste: in order to thicken the cream, we opted to use raw cashews for their natural sweetness, neutral flavor profile, and ultra-creamy consistency when blended. Cashews help replace the thickness of condensed milk.
Health: cashews carry so many health benefits, especially when compared to evaporated or condensed milk. For one, the high level of mono and polyunsaturated fat found in cashews has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff), which decreases heart-related deaths.
Taste: zesty, tart, and a little sweet, limes balance out the creamy filling in this icebox cake. What you'll end up with is a fresh, vibrant, and refreshing dessert that's perfect to serve in warm weather.
Health: how do increased immunity, reduced heart disease risk, and increased iron absorption sound for health benefits? Well no need to thank us, that's what vitamin C found in limes can do for you!
Taste: if you don't know what Maria cookies are (or galletas Marías), you're in for a real treat. These well-known biscuits (especially in Latin America) are slightly sweet with hints of vanilla. They're basically the backbone of a Carlota de limón.
Vegan tip: many Maria cookie brands contain milk, eggs, and other things, so make sure you always double-check ingredients. The brand Gamesa is not vegan, but a lot of other brands are accidentally vegan (like Soriana or Gisa). If you can't find any, don't worry! Just use any tea biscuit or graham cracker.
If you have questions about this Carlota de limón recipe, don't forget to check out our FAQ section at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: the night before, chill the can of coconut milk in your fridge and soak the cashews in some water.
Step 2: the next day, add the lime juice into your blender with the sugar, coconut milk, and drained cashews, and mix everything on high until smooth (we recommend a high-speed blender for the smoothest consistency).
Step 3: add a thin layer of cream to the bottom of a 9x9 Pyrex baking dish or springform pan. Then, add a layer of Maria cookies overtop, breaking some up to fill in the spaces.
Step 4: pour in about ⅓ cup of the cream mixture, and spread it gently with a spatula, then layer more cookies on top. Continue this process until all the cream and cookies are used up.
Step 5: cover and transfer the cake to your fridge to chill for at least 5-6 hours. Serve this Carlota dessert chilled with a garnish of lime zest, cookie crumbles, and/or your favorite fruits on top. Happy eating!
This Carlota de limón is the perfect dessert to make ahead of time for a dinner party or no-fuss summer treat. Just make sure to follow these instructions to keep your cake tasting delicious.
Cover your icebox cake and it will keep in the fridge for up to 2-3 days. We don't recommend freezing it since it will become watery when thawed.
💭 Pro tips
Time to share our tips and tricks we learned while experimenting with this Carlota de limón recipe for you:
- Layer the cookies lightly. You want a good layer of cream between the cookies so don't push down on them too hard.
- Use key limes. If you want an even stronger flavor, use key limes instead of Persian (regular) limes.
- Use graham crackers. If you can't find Maria cookies where you live, graham crackers or literally any vanilla tea biscuit will work.
- Add extra fruit. for a more complex icebox cake, layer the top with sliced strawberries, raspberries, or even blueberries.
- Add vanilla. If you want a little extra flavor, try adding a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the cream before blending it.
- Add a thin layer of cream. Don't go overboard on the cream or else you'll end up with a soggy postre de limón (it'll still taste delicious though).
🍴 Tasting notes
We love this vegan icebox cake, and we know you will appreciate how simple it is to throw together. It's:
If you try this Carlota de limón recipe, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
Carlota de Limón (Vegan Icebox Cake)
- Casserole dish (9x9)
- High-speed blender
- 1 cup raw cashews ($1.72)
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk ($2.22)
- ¼ cup lime juice ($0.24)
- ½ cup sugar ($0.02)
- 2-3 sleeves Maria-style cookies ($1.03)
- Lime zest
- Lime slices
- Cookie crumbles
- Sliced fruit
- The night before, chill the can of coconut milk in your fridge and soak the cashews in water.
- Next, add the lime juice into your blender with the sugar, coconut milk, and drained cashews. Mix on high until smooth, about 2-5 minutes depending on your blender.
- In a 9x9 Pyrex baking dish or springform pan, add a thin layer of cream, then a layer of Maria cookies, breaking some up to fill in the spaces. Pour about ⅓ cup of the cream mixture over the cookies, and spread it gently with a spatula.
- Continue this process until all the cream and cookies are used up. Cover and transfer the cake to your fridge to chill for at least 5-6 hours.
- Serve chilled with a garnish of lime zest, cookie crumbles, and/or your favorite fruits on top. Happy eating!
- Thai coconut milk brands are the best to use for this due to the higher fat content.
- If you forget to soak the cashews overnight, soak them in boiling water for around 2 hours.
- If you don't have access to Maria cookies, swap in any tea biscuit or digestive-style cookie available to you. Graham crackers are also delicious!
- Optional ingredients are not reflected in the price or calories of our recipes.
- We calculate nutritional information for our recipes with Cronometer.
- Recipe cost calculations are based on ingredients local to us and may vary from recipe-to-recipe.
- All prices are in USD.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more tasty sweet treats, check out these recipes:
- Fresas con crema for another quick, creamy, and fruit-packed dessert.
- Strawberry tamales to try a sweet version of tamales topped with a juicy strawberry jam.
- Gorditas de piloncillo for perfectly crispy corn cakes infused with unrefined cane sugar and cinnamon.
- Arroz con leche if you love all things rich and creamy, but in plant-based form.
- Key lime pie bars for another no-bake recipe that is perfect to take on the go.
If your Carlota de limón turns out too soggy, you likely used too much cream. Unfortunately, you can't really fix this, but it'll still taste great!
We don't recommend freezing Carlota de limón because when it thaws it will become soggy and the texture will change.
Due to the use of Maria cookies, this recipe is not gluten-free. If you have a favorite gluten-free brand of tea biscuits, just swap those in for an equally delicious treat.