[Recipe 2] LITTLE LEMON TARTS
I spent a weekend at my sister’s house in beautiful Ocean Grove recently. She has a bulging lemon tree so I snaffled a bag to take home. I day-dreamed about potential lemon recipes as I drove home along Geelong Road (arguably the most boring stretch of tar in Victoria). Just as I reached the big smoke it came to me – Lemon curd!! The curd my friend Janet makes from her mum’s original recipe is my favourite. Lemon curd is a ripper recipe if you’re lucky enough to have chooks in the backyard and a lemon tree, as you’ll have the two main ingredients covered – eggs and lemon juice.
You can use lemon curd in soooo many different ways – drizzled over pancakes, sandwiched in a sponge cake, smeared on pikelets or plopped on top of Greek yoghurt or ice cream. It’s also a beaut gift to pass on to neighbours, friends and/or family AND, best of all, you can make heavenly (even if I do say so myself) Little lemon tarts with it too.
The crackling sugar topping on the tarts is of course optional, but I can’t stress enough how much fun can be had with a kitchen blowtorch. I found mine at Dalgarnos. A miniature gun that shoots fire – it’s of course my 8-year old’s most favourite, like totally awesome, kitchen gadget.
375g (12 oz/3 sticks) unsalted butter
2¼ cups (560g) castor (superfine) sugar
1⅔ cups lemon juice, strained (6–8 lemons)
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
6 large eggs, plus 1 extra yolk, at room temperature, beaten
Place butter, sugar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Stir over a low heat until butter has melted. Stir in lemon rind. Take the saucepan off the heat and allow to cool for ten minutes.
Carefully pour in the beaten eggs, whisking continuously with a hand-held whisk. Gradually return to a low heat and stir until thickened, for about 10–15 minutes. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools, so don’t worry if it’s not perfectly thickened. It should be the consistency of thin custard.
Place the hot lemon curd into sterilised jars. Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.
♦ Reserve 3 cups Lemon curd for the Little lemon tarts.
Makes 5½ cups.
Be careful when adding the eggs – if the eggs are too cold or the butter mixture is too hot, the eggs will curdle. If this does happen though, don’t panic. Press it through a fine sieve, then return it to a low heat and stir continuously for about 5 minutes.
Glass jars, lids and rubber rings can be sterilised by running them through your dishwasher on the hottest cycle, on the top shelf.
Lemon curd can be stored in sterilised jars, refrigerated, for up to two weeks.
[Recipe 2] Little lemon tarts
Half quantity sweet shortcrust pastry
2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
♦ 3 cups reserved lemon curd (½ cup per tart)
Caster (superfine) sugar, for caramelising (optional)
Icing (confectioners) sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 180°C (350ºF).
Roll out the sweet shortcrust pastry between 2 sheets of baking paper until quite thin, no more than 3mm (⅛-inch) thick. Line six 12cm (5-inch) lightly oiled shallow tart tins (with removable bases) with the pastry, gently pressing down into the edges, and trim to fit. Prick the bases with a fork. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to prevent shrinkage.
Blind bake the pastry to prevent it collapsing: cover pastry bases with baking paper and fill with pastry weights (or uncooked rice). Bake for 10 minutes. Carefully remove paper and weights. Bake for a further 10 minutes or until light golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a small bowl and allow to stand for about 5 minutes.
♦ Add gelatin mixture to reserved lemon curd. Beat until just combined.
Divide curd amongst baked pastry shells. Refrigerate until firm, preferably overnight.
To caramelise the tops, sprinkle a generous layer of castor sugar over the tarts. Wave the flame of a kitchen blowtorch back and forth over the surface until the sugar is golden brown and caramelised. Sprinkle with icing sugar. Yum.
Makes 6 x 12cm tarts.
If you don’t own 12cm shallow tart tins, you can also use Texas-style muffin tins.