Sneak Preview: Make Easy Mini Lemon Tarts with lemon curd and crème fraîche (optional). Pile the filling into homemade shortbread crusts and decorate with fruit. This is the perfect size for satisfying an after-dinner sweet tooth.
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Looking for a memorable dessert you can serve for a brunch, shower, or holiday? Whip up these melt-in-your-mouth lemon mini-tarts made with the BEST shortbread crusts.
Garnish the tarts with fresh fruit for colorful treats lemon lovers will be unable to resist.
Mini-tarts are my signature dessert, so I’m biased. I love them because they are:
- Easy to serve (pre-portioned)
- Easy to eat (serve on a napkin)
- Whip up the filling in a minute with store-bought ingredients.
- Or make the filling from scratch to save money and get the freshest flavor.
- The shortbread crusts taste so fresh and buttery. Prepared ahead of time if you want.
Ingredients and substitutions:
- LEMON CURD: Lemon curd is available in most supermarkets. Look in the jelly aisle. It’s super easy to make lemon curd in the microwave.
- CRÈME FRAîCHE: In case you’re wondering, crème fraîche originated in France. They traditionally make it with unpasteurized heavy cream. The cream is naturally inoculated with the right bacteria to make it thick.
Because our cream is pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized, we have to add bacteria back to the cream. This process makes a thick and slightly tangy cream.
Crème fraîche is not always easy to find, but it’s always easy to make crème fraîche yourself. You only need heavy whipping cream and some plain, unflavored yogurt (Greek or regular). It takes about 8-16 hours for it to set.
Other options? Substitute sour cream or Greek yogurt for the crème fraîche. Greek yogurt will make a softer filling, but it’s still delicious. You can always use straight lemon curd for the filling for a super lemony taste and more tartness.
- SHORTBREAD CRUST: Make these tarts with a scratch shortbread crust. It makes these mini-tarts a fancy dessert people will remember.
Of course, you can use store-bought tart shells. But they will never be as fresh or tasty as the ones you make in your own kitchen.
The crusts are MUCH easier to make with silicone tart molds. I recommend you order these tart forms immediately. You’ll find lots of other uses for them, and they require minimal storage.
- RASPBERRIES: Raspberries are my favorite fruit with lemon. Blueberries would be good, too. Even sliced strawberries have promise. I have a fresh mint plant outside my back door that provides extra color.
How to shape shortbread crusts:
You may notice I’m wearing exam gloves. I always wear gloves when I make any kind of pie crust or flaky biscuits. They protect the dough by providing a barrier between my body heat and the tiny flakes of butter. Of course, you can make the crusts without them, but work fast so as not to warm the dough.
Shape shortbread dough into a cylinder. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill before shaping.
Slice roll into 15-16 equally-sized discs.
Lay one slice in the middle of a piece of plastic wrap. Cover with another piece of plastic wrap.
Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough until the circumference is about 1/2 to 3/4 inch greater than the circumference of your tart cup. Lay the tart mold upside down on top of it to check.
Peel the top layer of plastic wrap off and lay it on top of a tart mold.
Use silicone tart molds or metal molds.
Press dough into the silicone mold with your fingers. If it tears, “squish” it back together. If it pleats, use your fingers to press the excess dough down smooth.
The goal is uniform thickness throughout so it will bake evenly.
Trim the crust with a sharp knife to make a smooth edge. Place the finished cup in the freezer until hard
To keep the crust from bubbling up in the middle, cut aluminum foil (preferably non-stick) into small squares. Use fingers to mold the foil to the inside of the tart (there’s a tart crust underneath her thumb) making sure the top edge is also covered. It will help to prevent over-browning.
How to make Mini Lemon Tarts:
#1 Make lemon curd in the microwave or buy a jar from the supermarket or online.
#2 Add creme fraiche or sour cream to lemon curd.
#3 Use a whisk to mix curd and creme fraiche or sour cream together.
#4 A spring-loaded dipper makes it easy to fill the tiny tarts.
#5 Brush berries with glaze. Garnish with fresh mint.
FAQ for Lemon Mini-Tarts:
You can make the shells and freeze them unbaked 2-3 months ahead of time. Bake them up to 3 days ahead of time. Stir the filling together and store it in the fridge for a week. Once you add the filling to the tart, it’s best to serve them the same day. The crust will begin to soften after 24 hours. This doesn’t deter me from eating them the next day, but I wouldn’t serve them to guests.
The crusts are a bit time-consuming, especially the first time you make them. But like any recipe, practice makes perfect. Practice ahead of time and enjoy eating your mistakes. The crusts are basically shaped shortbread cookies.
The filling can be made with store-bought lemon curd and store-bought crème fraîche (or sour cream) if you don’t want to cook. Stir them together for an instant tart filling. After baking the crusts and filling the tarts, allow 2-3 hours for the tarts to chill. Decorate and serve.
Yes. You can make it on top of the stove using a small saucepan or double boiler. Of course, you can buy it if you don’t want to make it.
Yes. See this microwave lemon curd recipe for orange and lime variations. I think mini orange tarts would be fabulous with strawberries on top.
Use a cupcake carrier. This little red container only cost $1 from the dollar store. Works perfectly for mini-tarts.
- Browned Butter Pecan Mini-Tarts
- Fresh Mini Strawberry Tarts
- Mini Cheesecake Tarts: Mascarpone is the Secret
- Mini Fruit Tarts with Vanilla Pastry Cream
If you have questions or suggestions, email me privately to Paula at saladinajar.com. Hope to see you again soon! Paula
Mini Lemon Tarts with a Shortbread Crust
- 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour - 180 gr
- ⅓ cup powdered sugar - 38 gr
- ¼ teaspoon table or sea salt
- ½ cup butter - 1 stick, chilled (113 gr)
- 1 egg yolk - from a large egg
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream - 15 gr
- 1½ cups lemon curd - 520 gr
- 1 cup crème fraîche or sour cream - 240 gr
- Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor.
- Cut butter into 8 slices and add to flour, pulsing several times until mixture resembles oatmeal. Add egg yolk mixed with cream.
- Pulse until all ingredients are moistened. Then allow the machine to run a few seconds until the dough starts to stick together. (Add additional drops of cream if the dough seems too dry.)
- Press dough into a roll like refrigerated cookie dough. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
- Spray tart molds generously with Baker’s Secret or something like it. (Baker’s Secret is an aerosol spray mix of flour and oil.) If using silicone molds, no greasing is necessary.
- Slice the roll of dough into 14 pieces. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap into a circle slightly larger than tart molds. Press into a mold with fingers, being careful to keep the thickness consistent. Use a knife to trim off any extra at the top. Freeze for at least 30 minutes, overnight, or up to 2 months. (See video for this step.)
- Place frozen tart shells onto a cookie sheet. Press a small square of foil down into each crust and mold it to the shape of the crust. See the picture above.
- Bake at 400˚F for 10 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until golden brown, usually about 3-4 minutes.
- Combine lemon curd with crème fraîche or sour cream. Whisk until smooth.
- Pour or scoop the lemon filling into each tart. A spring-loaded ice cream scoop makes quick work of it.
- Chill for 2-3 hours.
- Right before serving, garnish the tarts with berries. Wipe clean with a damp towel. (Better not to immerse the fruit in water.) Brush berries with melted red currant jelly after placing them on the tart. A few wayward drips won’t hurt anything. Add mint for color.