June 09, 2009

Tiny Lemon Tarts

Although I was a full time housewife for years, when we moved to our current city and state I had the opportunity to return to the workforce part time during the hours my children were in school so of course I jumped at the chance. As my kids all entered junior high and high school I added a few hours and now I am working full time at a non-profit organization. Since it's non-profit we obviously have a very strict budget so donations are always appreciated and when we can do or get something for low cost or free it's a blessing.

When it comes to small luncheons we hold for our clients, one of the directors commented that she would love some old time style cookies - back when a cookie was a small cookie and not the 'monster' cookies the bakeries and stores seem to make now. I volunteered to make some and donate my time and ingredients to do so. My initial plan was to do three or four varieties; a soft chocolate chip cookie, a small Russian tea cake and tiny lemon tarts. Well, because of time constraints with trying to be a full time wife, mom and employee as well as handling my oldest daughters graduation from high school, her open house reception and parent's weekend and orientation at the college, time was short and I only got two of the three made.

Here is the missing recipe I'm still planning to make for our next luncheon on June 26th.... if the stars and moon align and I get the time. One of my biggest time savers? I bought 3 jars of Harry & David Zesty Lemon Curd and Lime Curd on my last trip to their store. All I need to do is make the pastry and fill with the curd!

Tiny Lemon Tarts

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups flour, sifted
6 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Store bought lemon curd

Whipped cream or melted white chocolate to garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream butter with flour and confectioners' sugar. Mix until well blended. Add the vanilla extract and again blend thoroughly. Divide dough evenly between 36 miniature muffin tins. With a wooden tart/shell pastry tool or with your fingers, smooth and press the dough into place on the bottom and sides of tiny sized muffin tins to form shells. Place in freezer for 15 minutes.

Remove from freezer and put 1 tablespoon of cleaned pinto beans in each tin. (This will keep dough from shrinking.) Place muffin tins in oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully remove beans from crusts.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

Fill each shell with lemon curd. Return to oven and bake for another 5 minutes or until just warmed. Remove from oven and place in a draft-free area. Cool completely.

Carefully remove shells from tin, loosening edges with thin knife. Place shells on cooling racks. When completely cool top with a swirl or dollop of stabelized whipped cream or drizzle white chocolate across the tops if you desire.

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