Aah, the flavor of fresh lemons! I love lemon anything: Lemon tarts, lemon pie, lemonade, lemon candy. Okay, you get the picture, if it tastes like lemon I am game. These mini lemon tarts I have here for you will be the hit at your next party. The recipe for the lemon curd is easy to make. All a good lemon curd needs is a little elbow grease and a dash of patience. That’s it.
When we think about lemons…
When we think of the provenance of lemons, we naturally think about California or Florida, the biggest citrus producing states in the country. Well, let’s take the time machine to way, way back in time. Ancient Mesopotamia to be precise where archaeologists have found evidence of lemon cultivation. Lemons were used as religious offerings to the god Enlil, the god of earth and air. Apart from religious usage, lemons were also employed as antidotes. The Ancient Romans also used lemons widely. A Roman emperor went so far as to limit the price merchants could charge for lemons; yes price control was alive and well in antiquity!
So how did lemons make their way to the Americas?
Well, we can thank the Arab traders starting the process. They first brought the lemon to Greece and Constantinople. From there it spread to Spain via the Maghreb (the portion of North Africa conquered by the Arabs). It was the Spanish explorers who brought lemons to the Americas.
Onto the curd recipe!
Okay, so now that you’ve learned more about lemons than probably you ever cared to, let’s get on with that curd recipe. Ah, before I forget I have a confession to make: I use pre-made tartlet shells!!! I know, I know. I am still trying to figure out a good recipe for the shells that does not make them shrink when baked, and these are so easy and quick too. For this recipe you can use either a double boiler or you can improvise. Since I don’t have a double boiler, yet, I place a medium sized sauce pan on the stove and bring it to a simmer. I then place a heat proof bowl, usually glass or metal on top. So, creativity is key. You also want a good lemon squeezer and the best one I have found is the Zulay lemon and lime squeezer. This makes the squeezing go fast!
I hope you enjoy these lemon tarts. They are a great dessert and fancy too!!!
Photo tutorial on how to make fresh lemon curd:
- Squeeze your lemons for fresh lemon juice. I LOVE my Zulay lemon lime squeezer for this task!
- Gather the rest of your ingredients: 2 large eggs, 1/2 cup superfine sugar, 3.5 oz. unsalted butter and 1/2 cup lemon juice and tartlet shells.
- Prepare your double boiler. If you do not have a double boiler, like me, I use a pot with a slightly fluted edge to allow the steam to escape. Place a metal or glass bowl onto of the pot with 2 cups of water on medium heat.
- Once the water starts to simmer add the beaten egg to the bowl.
- Start whisking in the superfine sugar and whisk continuously to dissolve.
- Once the sugar is combined, gradually add the cubes of butter. Whisk until all the butter is melted into the egg.
- Once the butter is mostly melted add the lemon juice and gently whisk while the curd thickens.
- Check the thickness of the curd to coat the back of a spoon for nappe consistency while still hot. (It will thicken more when chilled.) Remove from the heat and chill in the refrigerator.
Constructing the tartlets:
- Whip 1 cup heavy whipping cream in a stand mixer and add the confectioner’s sugar gradually. Pro tip: Pre-chill your mixing bowl for 10-15 minutes in the freezer and it will take less time whipping.
- Continue whipping until you have stiff peaks of cream.
- Take the chilled lemon curd and put in a pipping bag or I like to use a zip-top bag and cut the corner very small.
- Pipe the curd into all the tartlet shells and fill them half way.
- Place the whipped cream in a piping bag with a fancy nozzle or a piping gun. Pipe the whipped cream on top of the lemon curd.
- You will have cute little tartlets to serve. Keep them chilled in the refrigerator until ready to serve. You can even freeze them in a storage container for up to 1 week. Take them out to thaw for about 10 minutes before serving.
If you want to try some other interesting dessert recipes here are some to bookmark for later. Here an old fashioned recipe from Aunt Lou for feather cake that is similar to pound cake but a bit lighter. If you want to try something a little more exotic for a baking project try this Swedish Tusendbladstarta or Swedish almond cake. If you like tropical flavors, here is a cake from the Caribbean: Jamaican toto has a wonderful coconut flavor.
Here is a super easy recipe to make fresh lemon curd step by step for some really tasty lemon tartlets. You can fill some store-bought shortbread crusts, top off with some whipped cream for an elegant dessert in a flash.
- 1 package shortbread tartlet shells
For the filling:
- 2 eggs large
- 1/2 cup sugar superfine
- 3 1/2 oz unsalted butter cubed
- 1/2 cup lemon juice fresh squeezed, about 2 lemons.
Whipped cream topping:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp confectioner's sugar
Place a saucepan with water and bring it to a simmer over the stove. You can also use a double boiler if you own one.
Place beaten eggs in a glass bowl, or double boiler bowl and slowly whisk in the sugar. Slowly add the lemon juice and the cubed butter.
Place bowl over saucepan.
Whisk constantly to combine all the ingredients well as the butter melts over the saucepan.
Continue to stir until the mixture begins to thicken.
When mixture is thick, remove from heat and allow chill in the refrigerator.
Whip 1 cup of heavy cream with 1 Tbsp. confectioner's sugar until you have stiff peaks.
Place lemon curd in a piping bag and pipe onto tartlets. Place the whipped cream in a piping bag and pipe over the curd.
Keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.
You can freeze the tartlets in a storage container for up to 1 week. Take out to thaw for about 10 minutes before serving.