Sugar Cookie Lemon Tarts

by Jess on August 20, 2013

in Dessert, Recipes

Sugar Cookie Lemon Tarts_

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about change.  Not big, drastic, life-altering change, but the sort of small nuances that keep us on our toes and make us feel like we are moving towards something bigger.

Sugar Cookie Tart Shells

If you buy into the broad strokes used to paint entire generations of people, at 32, I fall into a strange gap between the “millennials” and Gen X. We’re a group that, if Buzzfeed is to be considered a reliable source, has a bit of an identity crisis.

Unfortunately, I do relate to the stereotype that many of us in this generation are never quite satisfied.   Instead of living in the moment, we’re always looking ahead to the next thing.

Filling Sugar Cookie Lemon Tarts

People sometimes assume that living abroad is, in itself, an ongoing adventure.  I thought it too before moving to Thailand.  Many things about this life are exciting, but it’s not the long, leisurely vacation I pictured it to be.  As it turns out, just like anywhere else, we still wake up to alarms, grumble through our morning commutes, get home late with no plan for dinner, curl up on the couch with a mug of tea to watch Top Chef.

And really, it’s a good thing.  Not every moment can hold an adventure – the ones that do would start to lose their magic.

Sugar Cookie Lemon Tarts

For all my pondering about the next “big” thing – where we will live when we move home to the U.S., what job I will have, even what car I will drive – I’d do better if I just let it go.  (We’re not moving home any time soon, after all.)

I try to remember that, if we give them a little space our lives construct themselves in ways that are unexpected, sometimes scary, and often so very wonderful.  Never in a million years would I have imagined mine would bring me to Bangkok.  That is a change that just happened to come along at exactly the right time.

Sugar Cookie Lemon Tarts

For all my planning and thinking ahead, I know this moment is worth holding onto.  There are Saturday afternoons of baking world’s simplest lemon tarts with a sugar cookie crust and Sunday brunches spent with friends, sipping mimosas and eating waffles.

Despite my inner generation-whateverness that makes me yearn for some new twist, the stuff that’s happening right now is pretty good too.

Sugar Cookie Lemon Tarts_Inquiring Chef

Sugar Cookie Lemon Tarts
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
No finicky crusts necessary for these tarts. Use a simple cookie dough for the crust and fill it with a perfectly sweet and sour lemon filling.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 24 pieces
For the crust:
  • 8 Tablespoons (115g) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 and ½ cup (190g) all-purpose flour
  • scant ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch salt
For the lemon filling:
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup whipping cream
  • juice from 1 large lemon
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
For topping
  • 4 Tablespoons powdered sugar, divided
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  1. To make the sugar cookie crust, in a standing mixer (or by hand) beat the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes oh high. Add the egg and mix on medium until fully incorporated. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt all at once and mix on medium just until no spots of flour remain, about 20 seconds (do not overmix). Wrap the dough in parchment paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a mini muffin tin with butter or cooking spray.
  3. While the oven is preheating, make the lemon filling by whisking together the eggs, egg yolks, whipping cream, lemon juice, and granulated sugar until smooth.
  4. Remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator. Divide the dough into quarters and divide each quarter into six even balls of dough. Press each ball of dough it into a space in the muffin tin. Using your thumbs, press the dough into the tin so that it is evenly distributed along the sides and bottom. (Don't worry if it is a bit thinner in some places than others.) Pour the lemon filling into the center of each sugar cookie cup, stopping just below the top of the crust.
  5. Bake until the filling is set and the crust begins to turn golden, 10-12 minutes. (Do not over bake - pull the tarts out just when you see any golden color on the crusts.) Allow these to cool completely at room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  6. Before serving, dust the tops of the tarts with 2 Tablespoons of powdered sugar. Beat the whipping cream with the remaining 2 Tablespoons of sugar until stiff peaks form. Pipe or spoon the whipping cream on top of each tart. Serve chilled.




{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Liz August 20, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Thanks Jess. Love your emails and little stories. Your life sounds exciting to me.


2 Anne ~ Uni Homemaker August 21, 2013 at 2:06 am

Jess, this sugar cookie lemon tart looks delicious and so cute! Pinning for sure. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and stories with us. I always enjoy visiting your blog. Have a great day. :)
Anne ~ Uni Homemaker recently posted..Tomato Cucumber Dill Salad with FetaMy Profile


3 Jess August 21, 2013 at 7:20 am

Thanks so much Anne – so glad to have found your blog as well – so much inspiration!


4 Claire @ Claire K Creations August 21, 2013 at 9:05 am

Well you may be between generations but you’re definitely on the side of brilliant pastry chef. These look wonderful and perfect to use some of my lemons!
Claire @ Claire K Creations recently posted..Depo West EndMy Profile


5 sally @ sallys baking addiction August 21, 2013 at 9:34 am

I am ALWAYS thinking/planning ahead. I need to start living in the moment a bit more! Your post reminds me to do just that. And I love lemon desserts. Love love love. The little cookie tarts are so cute!
sally @ sallys baking addiction recently posted..Cake Batter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches.My Profile


6 Erin @ The Emerging Foodie August 21, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Such truth in what you have to say; I love that you shared your thoughts. And that you shared these beautiful tarts! They look amazing. Your photography is beautiful.
Erin @ The Emerging Foodie recently posted..Whole-Wheat Pancakes with Cinnamon Pear CompoteMy Profile


7 Ashley August 22, 2013 at 12:41 am

These sugar cookie tarts are so cute! They came out beautiful. I completely agree with everything you said – I often get so focused on goals or what’s ahead that I forget to appreciate what is right now. And that needs to change. It’s something I constantly try to work on … whether successful or not : )
Ashley recently posted..Grandma’s Graham Cracker CakeMy Profile


8 Monica August 22, 2013 at 2:10 am

Oh boy – I’m drooling over lots of food I see on your site here, including these sugar cookie lemon tarts (I love lemon tarts!). They look scrumptious. : ) And all from Bangkok – wow!
Monica recently posted..Project PretzelMy Profile


9 Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl August 23, 2013 at 5:13 am

These lovely lemon tarts are beautiful, each one looks perfect! Your words of advice really hit home to me seeing as I am always looking in the future and I find it hard to enjoy or even be proud of the current moment. Thanks for that.
Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl recently posted..Cooking With America’s Test KitchenMy Profile


10 Shashi @ August 23, 2013 at 6:50 pm

These lemon tarts look GREAT!
I fall in the in-between generation too! It took me awhile to figure out the joy and importance of enjoying the “now”.
Great post! Awesome clicks!
Shashi @ recently posted..Avocado PuddingMy Profile


11 Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles August 23, 2013 at 8:54 pm

I don’t often embrace change well, or at least it takes me a bit to come around. But somehow you manage to talk about it in such a sweet way. Lovely words. And those lemon tarts look fabulous, something our girls would absolutely love.
Brenda @ a farmgirl’s dabbles recently posted..Mom’s Sweet Onion Coleslaw DressingMy Profile


12 Dan from Platter Talk August 24, 2013 at 1:09 am

These lemon tarts look just perfect for a hot August afternoon. Lovely post!!
Dan from Platter Talk recently posted..Lentil Rice Cakes + Tomato SalsaMy Profile


13 Erika August 27, 2013 at 4:09 am

Oh my gosh I LOVE these!! I totally hate dealing with pie crust so I love the idea of using cookies (!!!) as crust. I’m usually such a chocolate fanatic but I’ve been on a lemon bender lately and so I love the assembly photos!!
Erika recently posted..Pancake Fridays: Soaked Buckwheat PancakesMy Profile


14 Lyn February 10, 2014 at 7:14 pm

Lovely tarts. May I know if the pastry after baking is supposed to be soft? Many thanks


15 Jess February 21, 2014 at 6:25 am

Hi Lyn – the pastry is very much the same texture as a sugar cookie – it should be firm but still soft. Hope that helps!


16 Susan March 1, 2014 at 5:30 am

Hi, do you think you can make these ahead and freeze them?


17 Jess March 5, 2014 at 9:37 am

I haven’t tried it, Susan, but I’m sure you could! With most baked goods, I like to bake them about half the time indicated and then freeze them and finish baking them once they come out of the freezer. That might work well with this recipe.


18 Samantha April 15, 2014 at 5:36 pm

These look lovely! I do have a question though…I’ve been searching for a recipe for standard muffin-sized lemon tarts (I don’t have a mini pan at the moment, I’m living overseas for a few months and I’ve been trying to keep my purchasing to a minimum), but all lemon tart recipes I’ve found are either for a full-size tart or mini ones. Do you think I’d be able to make this recipe into 12 muffin-sized tarts, with increased baking time of course?


19 robyn April 26, 2014 at 8:51 pm

hi, do you find these have enough “lemon”. and do you pre whip the cream before adding it to the filling?


20 Elaine June 20, 2014 at 7:49 am

I baked these and for some reason they filling looks eggy, a light yellow color when done and not like the picture. What could I have done wrong.? Help! Really want to make these look pretty as they are yummy. Thanks so much!


21 Jess June 20, 2014 at 8:19 am

Elaine, I doubt you did anything at all wrong. I suspect it just has to do with the color of the yolks of your eggs. The eggs I use are very fresh with very bright yellow yolks. You might try picking some eggs up at a farmer’s market or using some that you just bought from the store to see if that helps, but the color of egg yolks are so variable that this might be difficult to fix. Glad you liked the tarts though!!!


22 Lisa wagner June 22, 2014 at 2:34 am

Is the yellow supposed to be runny?


23 Jess June 23, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Hi Lisa – the filling should definitely not be runny. It’s possible that they didn’t cook quite long enough. Cook the tarts until the yellow filling is cooked all the way through.


24 Jess June 23, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Lisa – one more thought on this. Do make sure that the tarts cool completely at room temp – this will help them to set correctly.


25 Chaitra June 23, 2014 at 11:42 am

Hi Jess,

I want to try these for my party this weekend. But i am a bit concerned about not baking the cookies once before the filling is added. Is it fine just to par bake the cookies for about 8 mins and then bake them with the curd for 2 mins or so?


26 Jess June 23, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Hi Chaitra! I wouldn’t recommend baking the cookies first. Since these tarts are so small, the recipe has been tested so that the cookie and the filling will all finish baking at the same time. If you bake the cookie crust first, I’m afraid it will dry out and the filling may not cook all the way through.


27 Girija July 22, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Hi…luv dsimple recipe n wud luv to try it bt I hv a ques. to u hv to use unsalted butter?? Can i make it with normal yellow butter??


28 paula August 9, 2014 at 2:40 am

can key lime juice be substituted for lemon juice?


29 Jess August 15, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Paula – it’s worth a shot! I’ve never tried these with key lime juice, but I imagine it would work just fine.


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