Sunny Springtime Lemon Tartlets

These delightful little lemon tarts are sunny reminders of the tart-sweet spring season. Bursting with vitamin C and mouthwatering lemon flavor, these would make a pretty ending for an Easter meal—or any meal!

You can make the shells and filling in advance, and children and adults alike love the zesty lemon sweetness.

Pie Dough
1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 large egg, lightly beaten

1. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

2. Add the eggs and continue to stir on low speed until the dough just begins to come together.

To mix the dough by hand:
Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into 1-tablespoon chunks and add it to the bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mixture by squeezing the butter and flour together with your fingers until the butter is evenly distributed and the mixture resembles coarse meal. Do this quickly so the butter doesnít melt in your hands. Pour the eggs over the mixture and stir with a fork until the dough begins to hold together.

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead into a smooth round ball. Press into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour and for up to 2 days. This dough may be frozen, wrapped in plastic and then aluminum foil, or up to 1 month. Defrost it in the refrigerator overnight.

Lemon Filling
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
6 tablespoons strained fresh lemon juice
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

1. Combine the eggs, sugar, and lemon zest in a medium heavy saucepan and whisk until smooth. Add the lemon juice and butter and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thickened, 7 to 9 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to come to a boil.

2. Pour the lemon filling through a fine strainer into a glass bowl or measuring cup. Cover the surface with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until filling is cold and thick, at least 3 hours and for up to 3 days, before using.

To assemble:
1. Preheat the oven to 325F.

2. Divide the chilled dough into 6 equal pieces. Wrap 5 pieces in plastic and place them in the refrigerator. Turn the other piece of dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and sprinkle it with a little bit of flour. Knead the dough several times to soften and smooth it out. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 1/8-inch thickness, rotating the dough as you roll it and sliding a flat metal spatula underneath it occasionally to make sure that the dough does not stick to the work surface. Lift the dough by folding it in half over the rolling pin, and gently place it on top of a 6-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough firmly against the sides of the pan, being careful not to stretch the dough, or your tart shells will shrink as they bake. Trim of all but 1/2 inch of the dough along the edge of the tart pan. Fold the extra dough into the pan and press it firmly against the sides. Prick the bottom of the tart shell with a fork. Repeat with the remaining 5 dough pieces. Place the tart shells in the freezer for 15 minutes to firm up. (The rolled tart shells can be wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 1 month. Bake them directly from the freezer.)

3. Remove the tart shells from the freezer, place them on a large baking sheet, and bake them until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the tart shells from the oven and let them cool completely on a wire rack.

4. To assemble the tarts, remove the sides of each tart pan. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the lemon filling into each tart shell and smooth the filling with a small spatula.

5. To make optional lemon-twist garnish, cut 6 thin lemon slices halfway through and twist the cut ends. Dip the slices in sugar and place one twist on top of each tart. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 tartlets.

Adapted from Momís Big Book of Baking, by Lauren Chattman (Harvard Common Press, 2001). Copyright (c) 2001 by Lauren Chattman. Reprinted by permission of Harvard Common PRess.
Adapted from Mom's Big Book of Baking, by Lauren Chattman (Harvard Common Press, 2001).


Elena Arutiunova
Elena Arutiunova6 years ago

M-m-m... sounds and looks tasty!