Sunshine on a Cloudy Day : Zesty LEMON Tarts

Cheery like sunshine
Cheery like sunshine

What is it about these tangy little pastries that bring a smile to a solemn face? Methinks it has something to do with the color yellow. A sure shot way to brighten your day. 🙂

Lemon tarts are a popular confection pervading bakeries across Pakistan. I know my parents generation loves them. They’re such a treat with a good cup of chai to go with. But move over, artificially colored, flavored and overly sweet commercial tarts, because we’re going to show the world what real lemon tarts taste like. They’re a reason they’re called tarts, because they need to have just the right touch of sourness to them.I got hold of the most gorgeous and tastiest Meyer lemons from a local farmer’s market and was so thrilled to put them to good use. I made lemon cupcakes and lemon tarts. The tarts were my first attempt so the result was exciting. The lemons are huge and full of juice and zest and go such a long way. Such a pleasant contrast to the small, tight-skinned lemons we normally get here. Not as harshly sour either.

If you’ve never made your own lemon tarts before, I highly recommend it. They’re fun to make and fun to eat. You pre bake the tart pastries in individual shells or even use a cupcake tin if you prefer. Then scoop in the yummy lemon curd, which is so quick to make. Bake a little more and that’s it. The curd is so versatile because any leftover curd can be covered and refrigerated and used in other lemony desserts and indulged in on its own.

This recipe is adapted for three different recipes and easily makes about 20 or so tarts. Some of them were a different size because the tart shell set had three different sizes… go figure.

Ingredients:

Tart Pastry
1 1/2 cups flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, beaten

Lemon Curd
3 large eggs
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tbsp butter, room temp
1 tsbp lemon zest

For the pastry:
1. Whisk the flour with salt
2. In a separate bowl with your stand or hand electric mixer beat the butter until it’s soft. Add the sugar until it becomes fluffy. Gradually add the beaten egg.
3. Add all the flour at once and mix until a ball forms. Flatten the pastry. Divide and wrap in plastic saran wrap. Refrigerate

For the curd:
1. In a double boiler over low heat (a heat proof bowl fit over a saucepan of a little water should suffice), whisk eggs, sugar and lemon juice.
2. Cook, stirring constantly until the curd has thickened and is pale. Approximately 10 minutes. When you lift the whisk, the curd should be thick and stick to it.
3. Remove the curd from the heat and add butter in pieces, mixing until it has melted in. Add in the zest.
4. Cover the bowl with plastic and let it cool to room temperature. Do not refrigerate. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 170 C

For the tarts:
5. Roll out the dough on a well floured surface and use the  individual tart shells like cookie cutters. Place the cut out dough in the tart shell and press against the scalloped edges. (See image)
6. Blind bake the individual tart pastry with foil and either beans or pie weights for 15-20 minutes or until dry and light golden.
7. Remove the tart shells from the oven and the foil.
8. Scoop in the lemon curd in to each shell and bake for 15 more minutes, until curd looks like it is set.
9. Remove the tarts from their shells. Let cool and serve.

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