Meyer Lemon Cream Mini Tarts

After only a short delay, I’m back to those Meyer Lemons. I mentioned previously how long I had been looking for these little devils and how thrilled I was to finally find some last week. The first thing I made was Meyer Lemon Pudding Cakes, which were fantastic. But I still had some Meyer Lemons left after those pudding cakes, (remember, I did say that I grabbed a sack full of them) so I decided to make Meyer Lemon Cream Mini Tarts.

I found a recipe for “Lemon Cream” in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours under “The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart”. I thought this looked fantastic, but rather than use regular Sweet Tart dough for my tart shell, I decided to go with a graham cracker crumb base, sort of like you would find in a key lime pie. I also had these adorable 4″ Mini Tart pans that I had been dying to try, so I made 6 Mini Tarts rather than a regular 9″ tart.

You may wonder what the difference is between Lemon Cream and Lemon Curd. They are very similar but differ in when the butter is added into the mix. In a curd, all of the ingredients, including the butter are cooked together until they thicken. In this cream, the eggs, lemon juice and sugar are cooked together and the butter is added only after the mixture cools down a bit. This causes the butter to emulsify rather than melt, which results in a light and well…creamy texture.

All in all, these were very easy to prepare. I baked the graham cracker tart shells in the morning and while they cooled I prepared the Meyer Lemon Cream. Once the cream was done, I popped it into the fridge for its requisite 4 hours. I didn’t assemble the tarts until right before I was ready to serve them and then garnished them with some freshly whipped cream and bits of fresh fruit. These little tarts were outstanding! The Meyer Lemon Cream is velvety smooth and satisfyingly sweet yet tart. I loved the contrast that the crunchy graham cracker crust provided. My husband is in fruit filled dessert heaven! We can’t believe we’ve been missing out of these exquisite Meyer Lemons all of our lives! If you’ve been likewise deprived, I urge you, search high and low, don’t stop until you find some of these gems and then get baking!

Meyer Lemon Cream Mini Tarts

Recipe adapted from: Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours

Yield: 6 Mini Tarts (4″ diameter)

Ingredients:

For the graham cracker tart shells:

  • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

For the Meyer Lemon Cream:

  • 3/4 cup sugar (if you are using regular lemons in lieu of the Meyers, increase to 1 cup sugar)
  • Grated zest of 3 Meyer lemons
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup fresh Meyer Lemon Juice (from 4-5 lemons)
  • 2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons (10 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces, at room temperature

Directions:

For the graham cracker tart shells:

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Butter 6 mini tart pans (or one  9″ tart pan).

Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour in the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. (I do this with my fingers.) Turn the ingredients into the mini tart pans and use your fingers to pat an even layer over the bottom and up the sides of the pan.

Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crusts aside to cool on a rack while you make the Meyer Lemon Cream.

For the Meyer Lemon Cream:

Have an instant-read thermometer, a strainer and a blender or food processor at hand. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.

Put the sugar and zest in a large heatproof bowl that can be set over the pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs, followed by the Meyer Lemon Juice.

Set the bowl over the pan and start stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. Cook the lemon cream until it reaches 180 degrees F. As you whisk – you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling – you’ll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger and then, as it gets closer to 180 degrees F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks.

As soon as it reaches 180 degrees F, remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of the blender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let the cream stand, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140 degrees F, about 10 minutes.

Turn the blender to high, and with the machine running, add the butter about 5 pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed as you incorporate the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going – to get the perfect light airy texture of lemon-cream dreams, you must continue to blend the cream for another 3 minutes.

Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. The cream will keep in the fridge for 4 days or, tightly sealed, in the freezer for up to two months)

When you are ready to assemble the tarts, just whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell. Serve the tart or refrigerate until needed.

Garnish with freshly whipped cream and fruit.

Enjoy!

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3 Responses to Meyer Lemon Cream Mini Tarts

  1. erika says:

    These look divine! Cannot wait to try them. Thanks!

  2. [...] came across some Meyer Lemons and bought a whole slew of them! I made Meyer Lemon Pudding Cakes and Meyer Lemon Cream Mini Tarts. Both were stunning if I say so myself. And I still had some gorgeous Meyer Lemons left. (told you [...]

  3. […] yummy treats with them in the past during their window of availability, like Meyer Lemon Curd and Meyer Lemon Creme Mini Tarts. Now I’m sure you can make these preserves with regular lemons if Meyer Lemons aren’t […]

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