Learn how to make mini lemon meringue tartlets like a pastry chef with this easy recipe consisting of 3 components: a buttery sweet pastry crust, a tangy lemon curd filling, and a toasted meringue topping. This recipe is perfect for enjoying lemon season or any other occasion to delight in.
Why you'll love these lemon tartlets
Indulge in the zesty delight of mini lemon meringue tarts, a perfect treat for lemon lovers seeking a twist on the classic lemon meringue pie. These individual-sized tarts offer a refreshing burst of lemon in every bite, reimagining the traditional lemon meringue tart in a charming, personal serving.
These mini lemon meringue tarts are a delightful fusion of flavors and textures. They start with a base of 'pâte sucrée,' a sweet and buttery crust dough, which provides a crisp and flavorful foundation. Each tart is generously filled with homemade lemon curd, a vibrant and tangy lemon filling that delivers a bright citrus punch.
The tarts are then crowned with fluffy, toasted meringue, skillfully browned with a kitchen blow torch. This Italian meringue not only beautifully offsets the tartness of the lemon curd but also adds an elegant touch, decorating the tarts with its lightly golden peaks.
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Ingredients and substitutions
*You will find the quantities and complete instructions in the recipe card at the end of the page.
Sweet shortcrust pastry
The French 'pâte sucrée' is one of the most popular recipes among pastry chefs for creating tart and tartlet bases. It is made with all-purpose flour, a touch of almond meal, and powdered sugar for a smooth texture, all blended with soft butter and an egg. This combination results in a stable and perfect texture after baking.
This lemon filling is prepared with whole eggs (whites and egg yolks) mixed with granulated sugar, fresh lemon juice, and zest, giving it a tangy flavor. Unsalted butter is added to make its texture thicker and creamier.
>> As a substitute, replace the lemon juice with a fruit puree like mango, raspberry, or strawberry for a more fruity version.
Any type of meringue can be used for a toasted meringue topping, here I use an Italian meringue. Composed of cooked sugar syrup incorporated into whipped egg whites until fluffy and smooth, it forms perfect shapes that stand out beautifully when toasted with a kitchen torch.
Italian meringue is often used in tarts because it's the most stable and can withstand high temperatures without collapsing, making it ideal for toppings that need to hold their shape.
>> As a substitute, Swiss meringue is the closest substitute for Italian meringue, offering similar stability and glossiness, although French meringue can also be used effectively.
How to make mini lemon meringue tartlets
>> I've got a complete blog post on how to make homemade tartlet shells.
- Place softened unsalted butter with powdered sugar, almond meal, egg and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and blend on medium speed until creamy.
- Add flour and blend again just until incorporated.
- Gather the dough and wrap it in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- Roll out the dough with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface or between 2 sheets of baking paper to a thickness of 3 mm and use it to line small pastry rings or a tart pan.
- Place the tart ring on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the freezer for 1 hour.
- Bake tart shells in the oven at 347°F / 175°C for about 15 minutes until golden brown.
- Take them out of the oven and let them cool a bit before turning them out and letting them cool completely on a wire rack.
- In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, eggs, granulated sugar, fresh lemon juice, and lemon zest.
- Heat in a double boiler on medium heat while stirring until the lemon mixture thickens.
- Remove from heat, add butter pieces and mix to incorporate.
- Cover with cling film and place in the refrigerator until cool.
- Fill the baked tart shell with the lemon filling and chill in the refrigerator.
- Place the egg whites at room temperature in the large mixing bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and mix at slow-medium speed until you get soft peaks.
- Heat the sugar and water in a saucepan and check the temperature, which should be at least 244°F/118°C.
- Carefully pour the hot sugar syrup over the sides of the mixer containing the eggs, which should be frothy, while leaving the mixer running at low speed.
- Mix at high speed until you have stiff glossy peaks meringue.
- Place meringue in a large piping bag fitted with a decorative tip.
- Pipe meringue on top of the lemon tart and use a blowtorch to create a burnt effect.
Conservation and Freezing
In the fridge: Store lemon meringue mini tarts for about 3-4 days under plastic wrap or in an airtight container box.
Room temperature: The mini tart shells can be stored at room temperature for 4-5 days under a cloth or in a storage box.
In the freezer: You can keep the mini tarts with the lemon cream filling (without the meringue frosting ) in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Tip for this recipe
- Blind bake Tart Shells: Before adding the lemon filling, pre-bake your mini tart shells until they're lightly golden (no need to use pie weights if tarts are completely frozen before baking). This ensures a crisp and flaky crust even after the lemon curd is added.
- Use Fresh Lemon Zest: Grate the zest from fresh lemons and sprinkle a little on top of each tart just before serving. It adds a burst of color, intensifies the lemon flavor, and gives a delightful aromatic touch to the tarts.
- Strain the Lemon Curd: After making your lemon curd, strain it through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps or pieces of zest. This gives your tarts a smooth, creamy texture.
- Chill Before Serving: Allow the mini lemon tarts to set in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving. This helps firm up the lemon curd and makes the tarts easier to handle and more delicious.
- Meringue Topping: Whip the meringue right before garnishing. If you prepare it in advance (like earlier in the day), leave it at room temperature and whip it again just before serving to restore its firm texture and shiny, stiff peaks.
Lime Meringue Tarts: Swap out the lemon juice and zest for lime for a zesty and slightly tropical twist.
Orange Meringue Tarts: Use orange juice and zest in place of lemon for a sweeter, citrusy variation.
Grapefruit Meringue Tarts: Go for a slightly bitter and aromatic twist by using grapefruit juice and zest.
Passion Fruit Meringue Tarts: Incorporate passion fruit pulp into the curd for a tangy and tropical flavor profile.
Raspberry Swirl Meringue Tarts: Swirl a small amount of raspberry coulis into the lemon curd before topping with meringue, adding a fruity contrast.
Chocolate Ganache Base: Add a thin layer of chocolate ganache to the base of the tart shell before adding lemon curd, offering a rich contrast to the tangy lemon.
Toasted Coconut Meringue: Mix some finely toasted coconut into the meringue for an added texture and flavor boost.
FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
Difference between lemon meringue pie and lemon meringue tart?
A lemon meringue pie typically features a flaky crust and is topped with a softer meringue that's baked in the oven, whereas a lemon meringue tart has a crisper crust and often uses Italian meringue, browned with a torch for a more distinct texture.
Can you freeze mini lemon meringue tarts?
Yes, you can freeze a lemon meringue tart, but it's best to freeze the crust and lemon filling separately from the meringue for optimal texture upon thawing.
How to toast meringue without a kitchen torch?
To toast meringue without a kitchen torch, place the dessert under the broiler set to high heat for about 1-2 minutes, watching closely to ensure it browns without burning.
If You Love Lemon Desserts
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