I’m at it again with the mini desserts, I don’t know why. Certainly I could make full size desserts, it’s just that I find these mini’s so darn cute. I knew that I wanted to make lemon tarts today because the wintertime yields the most wonderful and fragrant varieties of citrus. I decided to hit up my local Costco in my quest for the fruit, and lo and behold they had the most gorgeous boxes of Meyer lemons. I imagine most people wouldn’t react to fruit with such glee, but I have a hard time finding these; and when I do, they’re usually small and unattractive.
So, what you may ask is a Meyer lemon. They are a cross between a lemon and a Mandarin orange. Their skins are thinner than your garden variety lemon, and the juice is sweeter. The Meyer lemon has less acid, a very floral scent and their season is usually between January and May. And by golly, I just love them.
I should point out, if you make these tarts in the mini muffin tin, please make sure you spray the tin sufficiently so the tarts will release easily. I also made some in 4 inch tart pans, and those were easier to release.
Anyway, I still have tons of these lemons left so you guessed it…Mama’s Gotta Bake somethin’ new tomorrow. I’m thinking muffins.
Sift flour, sugar and salt into mixing bowl. Cut chilled butter into pieces into the bowl. Using your fingertips, quickly rub the butter and dry ingredients together until the mixture resembles coarse meal
Stir egg yolks, vanilla and water together and add to the flour-butter mixture and blend in using a fork. Shape dough into a ball.
Place the ball of dough on a pastry board. With the heel of your hand, smear about 1/4 cup of dough away from you into a 6-8 inch smear; repeat until all the dough has been dealt with. Scrape dough together; reform into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 24-cup mini muffin tin with cooking spray well so the crusts will not stick to the pan. Roll the dough out between 2 sheets of wax paper. Using a 2″ round cookie cutter, cut circles and tuck the dough into muffin cups, pressing with your fingertips so that the dough comes up the sides of the cup.
Using a fork prick the bottoms of each dough cup. Then cut 3″ squares of foil and press them into the inside of the dough cups. Use pie weights, beans or rice or even pennies to weigh down the foil.
Bake the crusts for about 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven and take out the foil and pie weights and then return the crusts to the oven for another 5-9 minutes until the crusts are lightly golden on the edges. Everyone’s oven is different so you really have to keep an eye on the crusts. It’s not so much about the time, but how they visually look. You don’t want an undercooked dough, and you don’t want the crust too dark as it will be very dry and crumbly.
Press the dough rounds into the mini muffin tin
This is what it looked like with the foil and pie weights
Meyer Lemon Filling
Adapted from Joy of Baking
5 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
In a food processor or the bowl of an electric mixer, place the cream cheese and process until smooth. Add the sugar and process until incorporated. Add the eggs and process until thoroughly combined. Add the lemon juice and zest and process until well blended and smooth.
Using a tablespoon, I spooned the mixture into the individual tarts, filling to the top.
I baked the mini tarts for about 10 minutes. The tarts are done when the filling is set. It took my oven about 10 minutes.
Let cool for about 15 minutes, then gently remove them from the pan. I sprayed the pan well so the tarts released very easily.
You can garnish the tarts with fresh whipped cream and a wedge of lemon if you like. The recipe makes 24 mini tarts, or one-9″ tart.