These easy two-bite mini lemon tartlets use an entire lemon in the baked custard filling, so there's no zesting needed. They're portion-controlled bites of bright lemony goodness!
Why this recipe works
- An easy baked custard bursts with bright lemon flavor
- Uses the whole lemon -- no zesting required!
- Two-bite tartlets provide portion control
I love the idea of two-bite brownies or mini muffins. Besides being cute, mini treats allow for automatic portion control (much like cookies). This way I can take two (ok, maybe three) and feel like I've had enough.
Two-bite mini tartlets offer that same level of portion control. I can grab a couple of these babies without feeling guilty or overindulgent. That's an idea I can get behind.
Lemon tarts with a twist
I've always said I love a lemon treat. It's like eating a slice of sunshine. Whether it's Lemon Bars, Lemon Curd Marbled Cheesecake, Limoncello Cake, or just a Lemon Shortbread cookie, that tartness just wakes up something bright and sunny in me.
Lemon tarts were next on my list. But since I have little self control when it comes to slicing tarts, cakes, pies, etc., I decided to make a two-bite version instead.
Two-Bite Mini Lemon tartlets? Yes, please!
What you need
Good lemon tartlet recipes start with a flaky and sturdy base. My Basic Shortcrust Pastry fits the bill perfectly.
Now, you can make a tart with lemon curd, but let's go one step further. This lemon tart recipe uses a baked lemon custard filling with a surprise inside: you use the whole lemon, not just the juice or zest, in the filling. The rest of the filling ingredients, sugar, butter, egg yolks, salt, and cornstarch, are standard.
How to make lemon tartlets
Step 1: Make your tartlet shells
Roll out the chilled shortcrust pastry to between ⅛ to ¼-inch thick, and cut out rounds using a 2½-inch round cookie cutter. Using a pastry dough tart tamper, push the rounds into the pan (photo 1). Freeze the dough for 15 minutes or chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm up. You don’t want slumped tartlet shells.
Parbake the tartlet shells at 400˚F for 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven to cool while you make the filling, and turn oven down to 350°F.
Step 2: Prepare your lemons
Cut the lemon in half. Check if the thickness of the white ring of the skin (the pith) is larger than ¼-inch thick (photo 2). If so, pare the zest from one half of the lemon, cutting away any of the pith before proceeding. Slice the lemon halves into thin slices, removing the seeds.
Step 3: Make the filling
Put the entire slice (and any zest pieces), sugar, and butter into the container of a food processor (photo 3). Purée the mixture, scraping down the sides of the container as needed, until the lemon is chopped fine.
Add the eggs, cornstarch, and salt and pulse until the batter is smooth (photo 4).
Step 4: Fill & bake the tartlets
After par baking the shortcrust, use a small cookie scoop to portion 1 tablespoon of the lemon custard batter into the shells. Be careful not to overfill them. I learned the hard way that the lemon filling can stick to the pan (even after spraying with baking spray). You don't want to have to dig your tartlets out of the pan!
Bake the tartlets at 350˚F for 25 to 30 minutes or until the filling is set. It will jiggle slightly and be very light brown on top (photo 5).
Questions asked and answered
Here are some questions that you might have...
To make a gluten-free version, or if you have extra filling, you can pour the filling into buttered ramekins and bake at 350˚F for about 20 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar after chilling. It’s quite yummy, like a cross between pudding and soufflé.
You can make one whole tart instead of the mini tartlets. Follow the directions above, pressing the shortcrust pastry into a 9-inch tart pan. Bake at 350˚F for 35 to 40 minutes until the filling is set. It will jiggle slightly in the middle and will be very light brown. Cool on a wire rack, then chill before serving. You can dust the tart with powdered sugar for a pretty presentation.
Store the tartlets in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can serve them chilled or at room temperature, your call. They freeze well, and just need about 30 minutes on the counter to defrost.
Pro Tip: Roll your pastry dough to the right thickness
Do you wonder how thick to roll out pastry dough? Mostly, the answer lies with what the dough is for. For instance, rolling out sugar cookie dough to between ⅛ to ¼-inch thick will affect the crispiness of the cookie, especially if you're going to shape it (like with these Hamantaschen cookies).
For a pie or tart, the difference will be if it's for a full-sized item (like with this pecan pie) or a smaller version (such as these mini Bakewell tarts). The smaller the pie or tart, the thinner the crust should be. You don't want a mini tart or tartlet to be overwhelmed by too much crust. But don't too thin or your crust won't be able to support the weight of the filling.
A good rule of thumb is to roll out dough for a full-sized item to ¼-inch thick (about the height of 2 stacked quarters in the photo below). For small or mini uses, roll out the dough pastry to between ⅛ to ¼-inch thick.
Tasty portion-controlled lemon tarts
Have I mentioned these mini lemon tarts have sweet lemony goodness in spades? And the crust has the perfect balance of sweetness and sturdiness.
Two-bite lemon tartlets are two bites of lemony sunshine and will brighten your day.
Portion control? Well, maybe I'll just have one more...
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
Lemons, limes, and oranges can add brightness and maybe even a mouth-puckering tanginess to your desserts. Whether the recipe contains fresh squeezed juice or a citrus-flavored extract, you'll want to try some of these citrus recipes!
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Two-Bite Mini Lemon Tartlets
- 1 recipe basic shortcrust pastry
- 1 lemon, rinsed and dried
- 1½ cups sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- powdered sugar, for dusting
- Prepare one basic shortcrust pastry recipe.
- Preheat the oven 400 °F. Spray the cups of the mini muffin pans with baking spray.
- For the tartlet shells: Roll out the chilled shortcrust pastry to between ⅛ to ¼-inch thick and cut out rounds using a 2½-inch round cookie cutter. Using a pastry dough tart tamper, push the rounds into the muffin pan cups. Freeze the dough for 15 minutes or chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm up. You don’t want slumped tartlet shells.
- Partially bake the tartlet shells for 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven to cool while you make the filling, and turn oven down to 350 °F.
- For the filling: Cut the lemon in half. Check if the thickness of the white ring of the skin (the pith) is larger than ¼-inch thick. If so, pare the zest from one half of the lemon, cutting away any of the pith before proceeding. Slice the lemon halves into thin slices, removing the seeds.
- Put the entire slice (and any zest pieces), sugar, and butter into the container of a food processor. Purée the mixture, scraping down the sides of the container as needed, until the lemon is chopped fine. Add the eggs, cornstarch, and salt and pulse until the batter is smooth.
- Use a small cookie scoop to portion 1 tablespoon of the batter into each of the pastry cups. Try not to pour it past the top of the tart shells or it will become difficult to unmold later.
- Bake the tartlets for 25 to 30 minutes or until the filling is set. It will jiggle slightly and be very light brown on top.
- Cool the tartlets in the pan placed on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then take them out of the pan to the wire rack. If necessary, use a tool that won’t damage your pan to pry the tarts out. Let the tartlets cool completely. Chill before serving if desired.
- Dust with powdered sugar, then serve and enjoy.
- Store the tartlets in the refrigerator, and serve them chilled or at room temperature. They freeze well, and just need about 30 minutes on the counter to defrost.