Lemon Tarts

These Lemon Tarts feature a creamy lemon filling inside a crispy sugar cookie crust!  Talk about one heck of a delicious dessert!

These Lemon Tarts feature a creamy lemon filling inside a crispy sugar cookie crust!  Talk about one heck of a delicious dessert!As a recovering former high school Latin teacher, I can’t help but drop random Latin sayings into conversations on occasions.  I think this was ingrained in me from an early age (i.e. middle school) when we had to always address our language teachers in the appropriate foreign language.  Salve, magister!  Even though it’s not spoken anymore, Latin has served me well over the years.  Et tu, Brute?  The language is very logical, and that in turn led to a better understanding of English.  (English is such a silly language!)  Those years (and years) of Latin and Roman history classes also left me with a whole slew of random facts about ancient Rome.  Carpe diem.

These Lemon Tarts feature a creamy lemon filling inside a crispy sugar cookie crust!  Talk about one heck of a delicious dessert!For instance, when I see lemons in the store, my mind wanders back to how lemons were used as a symbol of status in ancient Rome.  Forget having the latest iPhone or luxury car.  For Romans, lemons were the status symbol.  Even though lemons are only about 50¢ in the store these days, those little yellow fruits were priceless to the Romans.  You see, lemons were extremely rare in these times.  It wasn’t until the 1800’s that lemons started to become more popular.  So having a lemon in ancient Rome?  That meant you had some serious denarii – i.e. coin – in your pocket.

These Lemon Tarts feature a creamy lemon filling inside a crispy sugar cookie crust!  Talk about one heck of a delicious dessert!But get this.  Lemons in ancient Rome were valued for their healing powers as opposed to their flavor.  Fast forward 2,000 years, and now the opposite is true.  I mean I’ll still squeeze some lemon juice into a cup of tea if I’m feeling sick, but most lemons in this house end up in a dessert.  Take these Lemon Tarts, for instance.  It takes 4-5 lemons to get the necessary 1/2 cup of lemon juice to make these tarts.  4-5 lemons in ancient Rome would’ve cost more than your car.  (Of course the Romans didn’t have cars…but you get the picture.)

Lemon Tarts

I made these Lemon Tarts for dessert one night recently, and Robbie was super excited to try “a new treat.”  But as soon as I put a tart down in front of him, his mood changed.  Lemons?  Those are sour!  ‘Tis true, my good man.  Lemons are sour.  I then proceeded to explain to him that lemon desserts have sugar in them that offsets the sour taste.  It took a good 5 minutes of explaining, but he finally took a bite of one of these Lemon Tarts.  He was mighty skeptical the entire time.  You’d think I was trying to trick him into eating a vegetable or something!  However, after that one bite, he realized that ole Dad was telling the truth.  These Lemon Tarts are indeed delicious!

These Lemon Tarts feature a creamy lemon filling inside a crispy sugar cookie crust!  Talk about one heck of a delicious dessert!For these Lemon Tarts, I used what is essentially a sugar cookie dough as the base.  You could certainly use pie dough, but I actually like the crispy crunch of the cookie dough base.  It holds together much better than pie dough, and the texture is perfect when paired with the creamy lemon filling.

I also baked these Lemon Tarts in smaller 4″ tart pans.  Truthfully, I’ve had these tart pans in my baking cabinet for quite some time, and I’ve been looking for a good excuse to use them.  These tarts provided the perfect excuse!  Plus, it’s kinda fun to serve smaller versions of this classic dessert.  Laura and I still split one of these for dessert each night – you know, trying to be good and all.  If you don’t have smaller tart pans, then you can certainly bake this as a single tart using a standard 9″ tart pan.  (Or you can just order a set of these 4″ tart pans on Amazon (affiliate link).  They’re inexpensive and a fun addition to the baking cabinet!)

These Lemon Tarts feature a creamy lemon filling inside a crispy sugar cookie crust!  Talk about one heck of a delicious dessert!If you’re looking for a fun spring dessert, then these classic Lemon Tarts deserve a spot on the list!  These tarts are always popular when I make them for friends and family.  Cheers, and happy baking!

Did you make a batch of these Lemon Tarts at home?  Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog).  I’d love to see your version!

These Lemon Tarts feature a creamy lemon filling inside a crispy sugar cookie crust!  Talk about one heck of a delicious dessert!

Lemon Tarts

These Lemon Tarts feature a creamy lemon filling inside a crispy sugar cookie crust!  Talk about one heck of a delicious dessert!
5 from 11 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Refrigeration Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 354kcal

Ingredients

For the Lemon Filling

  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 additional large egg yolks
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice ~4-5 lemons
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ tsp salt

For the Crust

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter cold
  • {optional} powdered sugar for decorating

Instructions

For the Lemon Filling

  • Using a large heatproof bowl, add eggs and additional egg yolks; whisk together until well combined. Set bowl aside.
  • Using a medium saucepan, add lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, butter and salt. Place over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until butter has melted sugar and mixture is smooth.
  • Slowly pour lemon mixture into bowl with the eggs, whisking constantly while you pour.
  • Return entire mixture to the saucepan and place over low heat. Whisk constantly for 3-4 minutes, or until mixture has thickened noticeably. (Note: Do not let mixture boil.)
  • Gently press mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, pressing wrap directly to top of filling. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

For the Crust

  • Using a food processor, add flour, powdered sugar, salt and vanilla extract; pulse several times.
  • Cut butter into ½” cubes and add to the food processor; continue pulsing until well combined.
  • Press the crust mixture into the bottoms and sides of (6) 4” tart pans. (Note: This tart can be baked as a single 9” tart, although the baking times may vary slightly.)
  • Prick bottoms of crust with a fork.
  • Refrigerate tart pans for at least 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Bake for 22-24 minutes, or until crust is light golden brown.
  • Remove tart pans from oven. Using a flat-bottomed glass, press the crust down flat.
  • Fill tarts with lemon filling. (Note: Use an offset spatula or back of a spoon to smooth tops.)
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until filling is set.
  • Remove tarts from oven and let cool for 20 minutes. Refrigerate tarts until cold.
  • {Optional} Dust tops of tarts with powdered sugar before serving.

These Lemon Tarts feature a creamy lemon filling inside a crispy sugar cookie crust!  Talk about one heck of a delicious dessert!

Looking for more lemon dessert recipes?  Check out these other favorites, too:

This Lemon Blueberry 7UP Pound Cake is packed with bright lemony flavor...and it's a great dessert for warm Spring days!Lemon Blueberry 7UP Pound Cake

Filled with a whipped cream frosting, this Lemon Cake Roll is a fun dessert for warmer days!Lemon Cake Roll

This Classic Lemon Meringue Pie is a delicious combination of tart and sweet! PERFECT for summer!Classic Lemon Meringue Pie

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32 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    My kids are super suspicious about tasting anything lemony too – but I am pretty sure they would love these gorgeous tarts! Thanks for the history lesson – I had no idea that lemons were so precious in ancient Rome. And yep, I spoke fluent Latin in high school (served me well going into law) and my boyfriend at the time and I thought it was so fun (in a super nerdy way) to speak it!

    1. I highly recommend these tarts, Katerina! Lemony, yes. But lemony in the good way! 🙂 No way. You spoke Latin!? Latin is taught to be read these days, so I’m mega-impressed that you could speak it. You, your boyfriend at the time and the Pope. Haha!

  2. 5 stars
    Interesting! Never knew that about lemons! What a fun little factoid to break out at parties! I’m totally obsessed with lemon desserts (even more so than, say, chocolate), so these tarts are right up my alley. Beautiful and tasty! Wish I had one right about now. Can’t wait to try. Have a great weekend, David 🙂

    1. Yes! I love these factoids. They’re fun party trivia…for when we’re allowed to have parties again. Haha! I highly (!!) recommend these tarts, too. The sugar cookie crust instead of pie dough? Oh yeah!

  3. 5 stars
    That’s so interesting! I never knew lemons were so prized, but I guess it makes sense! And I absolutely love lemon desserts so these adorable little tarts are right up my alley. So yummy!

  4. 5 stars
    Lemons as a status symbol? I always learn new things from you, David!

    I’m a sucker for lemon treats of all kinds – these tarts are beautiful and irresistible!

    1. Haha! Yup, lemons were indeed a status symbol due to their scarcity. In a way, it’s kinda like toilet paper these days. 🙂 Thanks, Marissa!

  5. 5 stars
    Well I’ve never had any Latin classes, so I’m always excited when you incorporate some elements in your posts, professor David:) I am also very excited about citrus recipes and particularly lemon pies and tarts. These guys look absolutely perfect and delicious!

    1. Haha! Sometimes I just can’t help but revert back to the Latin, Ben. I mean I know too much of it, so sometimes it just comes out. Whenever this happens around the house, Laura just gives me one of those looks and keeps on walking. 🙂 However, I highly recommend these tarts! They’re quite delicious…and the sugar cookie crust? Required!!

    1. Thanks so much, Alex! I agree that these are perfect for Spring…it’s too bad we’re on the opposite end of the seasons here. I’m literally sitting here watching it snow (lightly) and thinking, “Is summer here yet!?” 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    What a sweet and tart looking tart. I’ll have to make a batch of these for Eva as she loves lemony treats. Her favorite is Nanaimo bars. Ever had one of those chocolate and lemony treats?

    1. I have indeed had Nanaimo Bars! They are delicious. A friend at the curling club is from Canada, and she occasionally makes a batch to bring in. I won’t admit how many I ate the first time I discovered them. Hah! 🙂

  7. your tarts look just gorgeous david. so cute. i love really lemony desserts – all tangy and delicious. i was surprised when you said you need 4-5 lemons to get half a cup?!? really? i think 2 would be ample with our lemons here. tee hee – gotta love an aussie lemon. cheers
    sherry

    1. Gosh! Those must be same huge lemons, Sherry! 1/4 of a cup of juice out of each one? That’s awesome. The ones I used were standard “medium” sized lemons, and I could only get ~Tbsp out of each one. Oh well. Either way, these lemon tarts deserve a spot on the dessert menu!

  8. Lemon is one of my all-time favorite flavors. I love the way you’ve decorated the tarts. I also like that you made them in smaller sizes. My husband keeps urging me to consider baking small versions of cakes, so that we’re not faced with eating entire cakes by ourselves (although I continue to contend that cake is the best breakfast, second only to pizza).

    I envy you your Latin and Roman studies. I think modern people are lessened by their ignorance of the sophistication of the ancient world. They think that because we’re technologically more advanced, that we’re smarter. Huge error.

    1. I’m gonna have to vote on your side here, Jeff. While I do love breakfast fare, cake and pizza are both viable contestants for morning eats. And since these tarts have fruit juice in them, I think that qualifies them for breakfast, yes?

      You make an excellent point about the ancient world, Jeff. Sure, they didn’t have the electronic gadgets like we have…but then again, do we really need those gadgets!? That’s another debate, but the point remains that the Greeks and Romans invented some really cool stuff! Perhaps all the more impressive because they did it without electricity. In many ways, I wish I had stayed a teacher…but again, that’s another discussion. Cheers, my friend!

    1. You’re right about the little burst of sunshine, Kathy! These tarts are hands-down one of my favorite lemon desserts of all time. (They’re THAT good!) 🙂 Hope you had a great weekend, my friend!

  9. 5 stars
    I love learning new culinary facts, and I didn’t know this about lemons and Romans. Very interesting.
    My mom always said if a dessert wasn’t chocolate, it had to be lemon. And I’m with her. Love the way you decorated these, too. 🙂 ~Valentina

    1. Yes! Lemons used to be quite valuable back in the day. They were scarce, and scarcity drives up the price of things. Either way, I’m glad lemons aren’t scarce now as these lemon tarts are hands-down one of my favorite non-chocolate desserts! 🙂

  10. I’m a bit of a Roman history buff myself, but I hadn’t known about lemons being a status symbol back in the day. You learn something new every day! And I like how you’ve made the most of them here, those tarts looks delectable. Not sure why anyone, even a kid, would be wary of these… !

    1. Yes! Lemons were indeed a status symbol, but that’s easy to understand once you realize that lemons were rare. The Romans weren’t growing lemons in their backyard…well, there was Capri, but again, that was a playground for Tiberius – not exactly a place where every Roman went. (And truthfully I don’t know if Capri’s lemon trees existed in the times of Tiberius. I’ll have to investigate that!) Either way, these tarts are delicious. Haha! 🙂

  11. 5 stars
    Lemons! I love anything with lemons in. These tarts look amazing David. And I never had any idea that lemons were so scarce in ancient Rome. It just goes to show you how we take so much for granted these days. Stay safe over there!

    1. You’re right, Neil! Lemons seem like such a normal thing these days, but there was a time when lemons were a rarity. Makes you enjoy those lemon desserts a bit more now, huh? 🙂

    1. Haha…I have a list just like you for things I want to make when we can get out again. It’s growing by the day… 🙂 Thanks, Karen!

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