Lemon Tarts

Tangy and delicious. 2 words which sum up these little delights perfectly. I love the sourness of lemon – that combined with the buttery sweet pastry is delicious. Now, you can serve these as a desert with some cream, raspberries or a drizzle of warm chocolate, but personally you can’t beat them with a cup of coffee as an afternoon treat. This recipe makes four 12cm tarts which quite frankly is pathetic and won’t last 2 minutes. It’ll also make one 12″ tart which may fair slightly better.

For the pastry: (Makes double quantity)
225g butter
150g icing sugar
2 eggs
450g plain flour

For the filling:
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup caster sugar
85g unsalted butter
pinch salt
2 egg yolks
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 180ºC

To make the pastry:
In a large bowl beat together the butter and sugar till it’s smooth and pale in colour. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until well incorporated. Mix in the flour and combine well. Gather together into a large ball then divide into 2 smaller balls. Wrap in plastic wrap, freeze one ball for later and chill the other for 30 minutes.

Roll out the pastry to about 3mm thickness then transfer to four 12cm non-stick, loose bottom tart cases. Trim the edges.

Place some baking parchment over the pastry and weigh down with some baking weights or some old lentils/rice etc. Blind bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove the baking parchment and weights and bake for a further 5-7 minutes until the pastry is dry in the centre. Remove from the oven.

To make the filling:
Heat together the lemon juice, sugar, zest, butter and salt until the butter is fully melted.

Beat the eggs and yolks together then slowly drizzle the warm lemon mixture into the eggs, whisking continuously to avoid curdling. Pour the mixture back into the pan using a sieve to catch the zest. Warm over a moderate heat, whisking continuously until the mixture thickens to a consistency of thick mayonnaise.

Using the sieve again, pass the mixture through directly to each tart case. Shake the cases to flatten out the mixture then bake in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove and cool completely before removing.

As I mentioned, great as a dessert, but even better with a hot drink and a book.

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