January 28, 2013

Meyer lemon tartlets

I've been craving lemon tart for months now.  Ever since I made my first last Spring, I think about it every so often.  This time, instead of a big tart, I went with mini tartlets.  I'm a big fan of things, like food, in miniature.
And I got my hands on some meyer lemons to use here.  I remembered seeing them a few months ago at Trader Joe's and hearing that they're in season, I was hoping to find them again and lucked out.  So this time around, I made meyer lemon tartlets.

I was a bit mesmerized by these meyer lemons.  I've never used them before or even gotten an up-close look at them until now.  They're smaller than your typical lemons, with a thin, bright yellow-colored skin.  They're a cross between lemons and mandarin oranges, and less tart than regular lemons.  Because of that, you can reduce the amount of sugar in your recipe when you use it.  I only used 1/3 cup of sugar to sweeten my six tartlets.  Unlike the sharp, bright smell of regular lemons, I was surprised that meyer lemons have a floral, almost pine-like, scent to them.
These meyer lemon tartlets are the individualized version of the last lemon tart I made.  I used the same press-on tart shell I've used a few times now, pressing the dough into six 4-inch tart tins like I did for the mini fruit tarts.  The lemon curd filling I used is the same as the last recipe, only using meyer lemons and with the amount of sugar dialed down to 1/3 instead of 1/2 cup.  That (intentionally) makes for a fairly tart filling.  I think if you're having lemon, it should taste that way but if you prefer it sweeter, add an extra tablespoon of sugar.

Ironically, I was concerned that my tarts wouldn't be tart enough using meyer lemons.  In all honesty, I'm not sure I'd be able to tell the difference between a "regular" lemon tart and a meyer lemon one in a blind taste-test but I am glad that this version using meyer lemons provided the same satisfying lemon flavor and zing that I've been craving.
There's something really satisfying about making your own tart crust and luckily, this recipe is quite forgiving.  This shortbread crust is buttery, crunchy, and sweet.  The lemon curd filling is tart, a good counterbalance with the sweetness from the crust.  I love that yin and yang combination.  My husband and I love to savor a lemon tart with some hot coffee, and we did just that during a recent date night at home.
Making tarts may seem demanding but it really isn't if you break up the work (and don't need to take pictures for your blog!).  On a quiet weekend afternoon, make the tart crust in advance.  Press it into the tart tins, wrap it up, and freeze it for up to a month.  On the day you want to make and serve your tart(s), bake the crust and cook the filling on the stovetop.  It's not as complicated as you might think.


Meyer Lemon Tartlets
From David Lebovitz

- For six 4-inch tartlets -

Tart shells - The recipe for this press-in, no-pie-weights tart shell recipe can be found here.  Divide the dough into six pieces and press into 4-inch tart pans like I did for mini fruit tarts.

The last couple of times I've made this crust, the dough has been dry.  I think I'll add a tablespoon of water right into the dough next time this happens but I've been able to pull it all together by wetting my hands and being patient with it.  Despite handling the dough a lot, I'm happy to report that the recipe is quite forgiving - the crust has always come out crunchy and sweet like a good shortbread cookie. 

As I mentioned, I highly recommend making the tart custs (unbaked) in advance; mine were made about two weeks earlier.  On the day I was ready to assemble the lemon tarts, all I had to do was take them out of the freezer, dock the surface with a fork, and bake until golden brown.

Lemon curd filling - I used the same recipe I followed when I made the regular size lemon tart.  Simply divide the cooked filling into the six cooled mini tart crusts and pop it in the oven for about 5 minutes to set.

Using meyer lemons, reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe to 1/3 cup (instead of 1/2 cup).  The filling is, well, lemony, with a nice sharp tartness that goes well with the sweet crust.  If you prefer your lemon tart a little sweeter, go to a slightly rounded 1/3 cup of sugar or just add an extra tablespoon of sugar to the filling as "insurance".


  1. They look beautiful!

  2. Lemon tarts are my favorite! I actually made some a couple of weeks ago! They are my most favorite dessert! Those look delicious!

  3. Thanks - glad to know another lemon lover! I love that mix of tart and sweet in a lemon tart.

  4. These are the best lemon tartlets I have seen in my life and they look delicious. I will surely be trying them out tonight for the dessert. Hopefully I can get the recipe right and it goes well.



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