Tuesday, June 12, 2007

If Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon Tarts

Be still my heart, I made a lemon tart. As much as I rant about how much I hate baking, for some reason I still force myself to try to enjoy it. I think this yearning might come from my undying love for lemon meringue pie and my lifelong envy for those talented enough to make it. Perhaps if I just mastered this one recipe I could somehow be content. The attempt at the pie might come in the near future but first we must begin with baby steps and these lemon tarts are pretty satisfying and rewarding in the meantime.

Now, most recipes for lemon curd call for a double boiler but I don't know what that is, therefore I'm pretty sure I don't have one. Anyway, I used a stainless steel bowl over a simmering pot of water and it worked out great. Other than that, the only other essential tip is the boring art of chilling the dough and the lemon filling. These tarts are rather easy to make and are pretty forgiving as far as baking goes, so they are perfect for those of us just starting off but still wanting to impress. They didn't come out looking quite as fancy as the ones from my bakery but they tasted exactly the same and that's good enough for me.


Lemon Curd Filling:
3 large lemons, zested and juiced
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted

Place the zest and sugar in a stainless steel bowl and whisk until combined. Add the lemon juice and eggs and whisk until smooth. Slowly add the butter to the mixture, whisking continuously until thoroughly combined.
Place the mixture in the top of a double boiler (or place bowl over pot with water apr. 1/4 full) and cook over simmering water making sure to continue stirring the mixture with a rubber spatula. Cook the mixture until thick, about 7 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and strain immediately through a fine stainer. Cover and chill in the fridge until needed.

Pastry Dough:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/4 cup white sugar
1 large egg, beaten slightly
1/8 tsp salt

Whisk butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in the egg. Add flour and salt to wet ingredients and mix
together just until all ingredients are incorporated (over working will result in a tough crust.) Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. Form the pastry into 1" balls and place into an ungreased mini muffin tray. Press the dough with fingers into the bottom and up the sides of the muffin tins. Prick the bottom of the dough and return the tray to the fridge for 20 more minutes. Place muffin tray on the center rack of the oven and bake for 20 minutes in a 375 degree oven, until lightly browned.

Carefully remove the tart shells from the pan and fill the center with the lemon filling.

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