It's time to spring forward with these cute individual Meyer lemon tarts with a layer of white chocolate ganache. These combine an easy to make Meyer lemon curd with a silky white chocolate filling in a flaky pie crust. These individual tarts make the perfect spring dessert!
February has been a rough winter month! We've had one of the snowiest February's on record so I am willing away winter and trying to usher in spring through my baking adventures. I actually made these a while ago to bring to my friends who had just had a baby. I actually brought them to the hospital boxed in a cute little shoebox with 2 forks. Because they are mini tarts instead of one large one, they are easily portable and make a great dessert gift.
What is a meyer lemon?
I used Meyer lemons for this tart as they were in stock in the grocery store and I love the tart but sweeter flavor they have. Meyer lemons are thought to be a cross between a regular lemon and a mandarin orange. They are often described as sweeter and less acidic than regular lemons and having floral notes. Meyer lemons have thinner skin, deeper yellow flavor and are a bit smaller than most lemons. They tend to be available in many grocery stores from November to May although I've seen them in August before so you never know when they may pop up.
Substitutions for meyer lemons
If you don't have access to Meyer lemons you can absolutely still make these Meyer lemon tarts with a couple of substitution options. One is to use regular lemon juice and increase the sugar in the lemon curd to make up for the extra acid. I would try increasing the sugar in the lemon curd from ⅓ cup to ½ cup. You can use the regular lemon zest. The other option is to use half regular lemon juice and half orange juice to more mimic the flavor of the Meyer lemon. Keep the sugar amount the same if you go this route and you can either use all lemon zest or do half lemon zest and half orange zest.
How to make a sweet pastry dough
This recipe starts with a homemade pastry crust. It's really not difficult to make this so don't be intimidated. It's easies to make this in a food processor as the dough comes together quickly but if you don't have a food processor feel free to cut in the butter using a pastry cutter. Start by putting flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and giving it a quick pulse to mix together. Next, add cold butter that has been cut into small cubes. Pulse a few times until the mixture looks crumbly with the butter mixed in until it resembles the size of small peas. Add the egg and pulse until the dough starts to come together into a ball. Dump the dough out onto the counter and using your hands form it into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. After it has chilled, you will evenly divide the disc into 6 pieces. Roll each divided piece into a small ball using your hands and then using a rolling pin roll it out to about a 5-inch diameter circle. Place each pie crust into a mini tart pan with a removable bottom pushing the dough into the sides.
Blind baking a pie crust
The next step is to blind bake the pie crust. Blind baking or prebaking is when you will bake the crust without the filling added. You'll do this when the filling to be added to the crust does not need to be baked so you'll want the pie crust fully baked before this step. There isn't anything too difficult about this process but because during baking the butter will melt and release steam, there is a high chance that your crust will shrink down the sides of your pan. You don't want this to happen! To prevent this, you will line each tart with a piece of foil or parchment paper and then weigh down the pie dough with something heavy. You can actually buy pie weights for this which are small weighted balls that you place on top of the crust. However, if you don't have pie weights, you can use dry rice or dry beans or even granulated sugar or pennies. You basically need something that will weigh down the dough to prevent it from puffing up on the bottom or shrinking down on the sides. After baking simply lift the parchment or foil and keep the rice/beans/pennies for your next blind baking project!
Making the meyer lemon curd
For the lemon curd, whisk together lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, eggs and egg yolk in a saucepan. Turn the heat on medium-low, add the butter and cook while stirring continuously until the curd starts to thicken and reaches 170 degrees using an instant-read thermometer, about 6 minutes. You may see little bits of curdled egg but don't worry about this as your next step is to strain the curd to remove any curdled eggs and make sure your final product is silky smooth. Use a fine-mesh strainer to strain the curd into a bowl then cover with plastic wrap, layering the plastic wrap directly on top of the curd. Chill for 20 minutes.
Making the white chocolate mascarpone ganache
These tarts are not just lemon tarts. To balance the tartness of the lemon, I added a smooth and creamy layer of white chocolate ganache made with mascarpone. This comes together very quickly! First, you will melt the white chocolate. I like to use a pyrex or other glass container and microwave in 20 to 30-second intervals, stirring after each time to melt the chocolate. You can also melt it in a small saucepan on medium heat while stirring constantly. Next, using an electric mixer, cream together the mascarpone and heavy whipping cream until light and fluffy. Add the melted white chocolate and mix until combined. That's all! Now you can assemble your tarts.
Assembling the meyer lemon tarts
Fill each baked tart about halfway with a layer of white chocolate mascarpone ganache, smoothing with the back of a spoon or knife. Next, spoon on the Meyer lemon curd on top of the white chocolate until almost filled to the top. Smooth the lemon curd to completely cover the white chocolate. If you have remaining white chocolate mascarpone ganache, you can pipe it on top of the curd for decoration or serve on the side. Chill the tarts for 1-2 hours before serving. Refrigerate any remaining lemon curd in an airtight container and use on toast, in yogurt or just eat by the spoonful!
Storing the finished tarts
Keep the finished Meyer lemon tarts in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They are best eaten the day they are assembled or by the next day. The crust will begin to get soggy after a couple of days. You can prepare the individual elements a day or two before and then assemble the tarts the day of serving.
Check out this cherry bourbon crostata for another homemade pie crust adventure!
Meyer Lemon Tarts with White Chocolate
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoon unsalted butter cold, cut into small cubes
- 1 egg
Meyer Lemon Curd
- ⅔ cup Meyer lemon juice about 3 lemons
- 1 ½ tablespoon meyer lemon zest zest of about 2 lemons
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- 4 tablespoon unsalted butter cubed
White Chocolate Mascarpone Ganache
- 6 oz white chocolate chopped
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 4 oz mascarpone
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a food processor, combine flour, sugar and salt and pulse once to mix. Add the chilled, cubed butter and pulse until small pea size crumbs form throughout.
- Add the egg and pulse again until the dough begins to come together into a ball.
- Dump the dough onto a counter and using your hands, form it into a disc. Wrap the disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Make the curd and white chocolate ganache while waiting for it to chill.
- After chilling for 30 minutes, remove the dough from the plastic wrap and divide into 6 equal portions. With your hands, roll each portion into a ball.
- Using a rolling pin, roll out each ball into about a 5 in diameter circle. Place each dough circle into a 4 inch removable bottom tart pain and push into the sides to cover the tart pan completely.
- Cut 6 pieces of parchment paper or foil to a slightly larger size than each tart pan and place on top of the dough. Fill with something weighted like pie weights, dry rice, dry beans or even pennies.
- Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the tart pans from the oven, carefully remove the parchment/foil and pie weights and return to the oven to bake for an additional 5 min or until golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Carefully remove the tart shell from the tart pan before filling each tart.
Meyer Lemon Curd
- Whisk everything but the butter together in a small saucepan.
- Turn the heat to medium-low, add the butter and stir continuously until the curd begins to thicken and reaches 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 6 minutes. Don't worry if you see some curdled eggs in the curd as you will strain the curd next.
- Strain the curd into a bowl, using a fine-mesh strainer, discarding any solids.
- Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, placing the plastic wrap directly onto the curd. Chill for 20 minutes.
White Chocolate Mascarpone Ganache
- Place chopped white chocolate in a small microwave safe bowl and cook for 30 seconds intervals, stirring after each time, until melted.
- Using an electric mixer, in a medium bowl, combine mascarpone and heavy cream and mix until light and fluffy and completely combined, about 2 minutes. Add the melted white chocolate and mix until smooth.
- Fill each baked tart shell halfway with the white chocolate mixture, smoothing the top.
- Top the white chocolate with the lemon curd almost to the top of the tart shell. Smooth the curd over the white chocolate until it is completely covered.
- Refrigerate the tarts for 1-2 hours before serving.
- Use any remaining white chocolate to decorate the top of save for serving.
- Tarts are best eaten the day of assembly. You can make the individual components 1 day ahead of time keeping the lemon curd and white chocolate mixture refrigerated in airtight containers and the tart shells in an airtighter container on the counter. Assemble the day of serving.
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