I have a friend who loves lemon in all desserts.  Every time I do an engagement at his place, he has to have the taste of lemons in his dessert.  I have this dessert – I think the secret to the extra lemony taste is the lemon zest in the crust.  The crust itself is more like a cookie crust than a pie crust.  So when you bake it you get a firm cookie style crust.  I used the left over scraps to bake small lemony cookies to serve with the tarts.  The recipe itself is a 1-2-3 formula that is easy enough to remember.

The picture below is how I served it – yes that is a basil leaf.  If you are into trying different flavors – try lemon and basil.  This is an outstanding combination.  When I was in Chef School we made lemon and basil tarts using a plain crust.  The crust recipe below, takes the lemon-basil taste to another level. This recipe is from Ina Garten, one of my favorite celebrity Chef’s. I’ve adapted it slightly to how I make it. The original recipe can be found on the web.  I cut back on the sugar after reading the comments from others and it worked fine.  Note, while cooking is an art, baking is a science and the balance of liquid to dry ingredients must be maintained to produce results as described by the recipe creators.  As Chef Brenda would say – have some patience, it will turn out!

Lemony Cookie Crust this makes enough crust for 5 x 5” mini tarts (as shown) or a 9″ tart with scraps leftover that can be used to make delicious lemon cookies.
2 oz Sugar
4 oz Unsalted Butter – room temperature
6 oz Flour – sifted
Pinch of Salt
Zest of 1 lemon (from lemon curd recipe that follows)
1 tsp Vanilla Essence

Preheat the oven to 350f
Cream together the butter, sugar and salt
Add the flour to just mix and wet all the ingredients
Pour the mix onto a lightly floured counter and mix until it comes together – a couple of kneads really
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more
When ready to use – sprinkle icing sugar onto your work surface – it replaces flour and sweetens the crust
Roll out the dough to desired thickness, 1/8″ to 1/4”
Cut into rounds big enough to fit your tart tins or large enough to fill a 9” tart tin
Press the dough slightly up the sides
Using a fork, poke holes into the surface of the dough
Bake for 14 – 18 minutes – lightly browned – for a softer crust stay with the lower side of the time, just make sure the crust is baked and not raw.  Remember, the crust will soften slightly once the tarts are filled
Roll the remaining scraps out and cut into small (1”) shapes

Bake in the oven for 12 – 15 minutes on a parchment lined tray – you know your oven best, watch the time – check early, check often!

Lemon Curd Filling
• 3 lemons
• 1 1/4 cups sugar
• 1/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
• 4 extra-large eggs
• 1/2 cup lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons)
• 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Zest 3 lemons using a rasp or zester. Add this to the sugar and using the food processor fitted with a steel blade, pulse until the zest is incorporated with the sugar. Note, make extra “lemon sugar”, it is awesome to use in cakes, sprinkle on top of a cake before it goes into the oven or over fresh berries/fruit.  

Cream the butter and beat in the lemon sugar. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.

Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken at about 170 degrees F, or just below simmer. Note, mine went to 180f  before thickening.  It continued to thicken as it cooled.  Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate.
As always – enjoy!

Lemon Tart Shells and Cookies

Lemon Curd Tarts

 Lemon tart