Today is one of the days I wish I wasn’t fasting from sugar. I can avoid sweets when I put my mind to it, passing up all manner of cookies, cupcakes, and other treats out of the sheer determination to do so. I usually give up sweets for Lent, missing out on Cadbury Eggs, jelly beans, and Reese’s peanut butter eggs until Easter Sunday. But right now, as I’m looking at the photo of the adorable little lemon tartlets in this post, I sincerely wish I could eat one.
Last week I made some Meyer lemon curd, and tartlets are a natural fit for such a treat. I’ve never made them before, and I’ll definitely employ some different techniques next time. Full disclosure: I made my second batch using store-bought pie crust to experiment with the thickness of the tartlet shells, and I think they came out better than the cream cheese dough I used for the first batch. Although the instructions in my recipe recommended scooping balls of dough, then pressing them into the wells in the pan, I’d recommend rolling out your dough and cutting it with a cookie cutter instead.
I also just realized, when reviewing my curd recipe, that I used whole eggs and not just egg yolks this time. The end result was a creamier, lighter-colored curd than I’ve made in the past (and according to Mike, it is delicious regardless). The curd recipe here yields 2 cups; you’ll have enough for about 40 tartlets, so if you’re using the cream cheese tartlet shell recipe below you’ll want to double it to have enough.
Meyer Lemon Curd
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/2 cup lemon juice (I used 4 small/medium-sized Meyer lemons)
- zest of 4 lemons
- 8 tablespoons butter
Lightly beat eggs and pass them through a fine sieve to remove the albumin. Set aside in a medium bowl (or a large, 4-cup glass measuring cup for easy pouring) close to the stove for easy access; thoroughly wash your sieve and place it nearby for a second straining once the curd has cooked.
In a medium saucepan, whisk together cornstarch, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest until completely combined. Add butter and cook on medium heat until thickened and bubbly.
Working quickly, pour about half of the hot lemon mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly to temper. Pour egg mixture back into the pan and cook and stir for 2 minutes more.
Pour mixture through your sieve to remove the zest; press waxed paper (or plastic wrap) onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Once curd is completely cooled, place in an airtight container. According to various food safety websites and other food blogs, lemon curd should last in the refrigerator for a few weeks.
Cream Cheese Tartlet Shells
- 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 8 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 cup flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until well-combined and almost fluffy. Add flour and beat until a soft dough forms, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Form dough into a ball and refrigerate at least 15 minutes.
Scoop 1-inch balls of dough into the wells of a mini cupcake pan. Press down to fill each well; I found it helpful to turn the pan several times to distribute the dough as evenly as I could.
Bake for about 15 minutes, until shells are golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for several minutes; remove from pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely before filling.
To fill: place about 1 teaspoon of lemon curd into each shell. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Pie Crust Alternative
Use a store-bought pie crust for tartlet shells; unroll the crust and cut using a 2 1/2 inch round or fluted cookie cutter. You’ll have about 16 rounds if you re-roll the scraps two or three times to use as much dough as you can.
Press circles of dough into the wells of a mini cupcake pan; bake for about 15 minutes, until shells are golden brown. Cool in pans for several minutes; remove from pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely before filling.