Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Luscious Lemon Cream Tarts

These next few posts will be of food I made for a bridal shower recently. I decided to go for small portions since we were feeding a large crowd. Plus I just think small things are fun! I'm a huge fan of lemon curd as a great dessert base, so I made these simple little tarts using lemon curd as the filling. Because they are so small, a little goes a long way. This is the batch size I always make, but realize that you'll have some leftover. The good news is that it's wonderful on toast, whipped in to cream for a fabulous frosting, serve it with gingerbread and if all else fails, you can freeze it for up to two months and defrost it in the fridge before using.

Lemon curd:
1 cup sugar
2 T. cornstarch
3 t. finely shredded lemon peel
6 T. lemon juice (freshly sqeezed!)
6 T. water
6 beaten egg yolks
1/2 cup butter, cut up into pieces

In a medium saucepan, stir together sugar and cornstarch. Stir in lemon juice and water. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Stir half of the lemon mixture into the egg yolks, then return the egg yolk mixture to the saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture comes to a gentle boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more, then remove from heat.

Add butter pieces, stirring until melted. Cover surface of the curd with plastic wrap. Chill at least 1 hour, or for up to 48 hours. May be stored tightly covered in the fridge for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 2 months. For the purposes of this recipe, chill at least 2-3 hours.

While your lemon curd is chilling, it's time to make the tart bases. I went for the path of least resistence and used purchased Pillsbury pie crusts. I misted two mini muffin pans lightly with cooking spray, then used a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter to cut rounds out of the pie crusts. I found that I was able to get 15 per crust, and if I re-rolled the scraps, I could scrounge another 3. I did find that the scrap ones tended to shrink more during baking. Press each round firmly into the bottom and sides of the mini muffin cups (whatever crust isn't firmly pressed in won't brown) and bake at 375 for 7-10 minutes, or until golden but not over-browned. Pop a cooling rack on top of the pan and invert the pan for the easiest way to get them out. Allow them to cool completely before filling.

Last of all, beat 1 cup of whipping cream with 1/2-3/4 cup powdered sugar and a dash of vanilla in a chilled bowl until medium soft peaks form.

Line up all your cute little tart bases and grab two disposable pastry bags (seriously one of my favorite kitchen tools) with star tips dropped into the point. I got a big star tip this time and used it for the cream, and I was really pleased with how it piped. Fill one bag with the lemon curd, and the other bag with the whipped cream. Pipe a thick layer of lemon, followed by a lovely dollop of cream into each shell and serve your pretty little desserts. I found that the tart shells taste the best if used within a day or two. Once filled, they are best within the first few hours, but still were quite good the next day.

1 comment:

Diamond said...

We made a slightly adapted version of this for gluten free lemon squares yesterday.

We used an almond flour pie crust, 1 T. tapioca instead of cornstarch, less sugar (2/3 cup but may try 1/2 cup next time), and all the juice from 4 lemons (1/2 cup) then water for the rest.

These were yummy! Not the sickening, overly sweet of most lemon bar recipes I have tried before. I had 3 more egg yolks today, so made a half batch with key lime (from concentrate, no zest). I think I will put it on a coconut crust, if it isn't eaten straight out of the bowl.