Lemon Lime Tartlets

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Preparation info

  • Makes 24 Individual tartlets, about

    2¼ inches

    in diameter
    • Difficulty


Appears in

The Modern Baker

The Modern Baker

By Nick Malgieri

Published 2008

  • About

Tart lemon lime curd and a crumbly sweet crust don’t require anything else to make a perfect little tartlet. Of course, you could always add a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream right before serving and sprinkle it with a pinch or two of toasted sweetened coconut. The method I use for cooking the curd works well if you use a heavy enameled cast-iron pan—in a thinner pan the curd might scorch or scramble from the uneven heat. By the way, you can prepare the lemon lime curd a week or two in advance. Just pour it into a glass or stainless-steel bowl, press plastic wrap against the surface, then wrap the whole bowl and refrigerate.


  • 2 to 3 large lemons
  • 2 to 3 large limes
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 10 tablespoons ( sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 24 tartlet crusts, baked, made from Sweet Tart Dough or Nut Tart Dough with almonds, unmolded, set on a jelly-roll pan
  • Toasted sweetened coconut or sliced almonds for finishing


  1. Use a sharp vegetable peeler to strip the zest from each of the lemons and limes, avoiding any of the white pith under the colored part of the zest. Place it in an enameled cast-iron medium saucepan.
  2. Squeeze and strain the juice from the lemons and limes, keeping the juices separate. Measure a generous cup of each into a measuring cup to make a total of ¾ cup juice. Add the juice to the pan along with the sugar.
  3. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and allow the zests to steep in the juices for 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to discard the zest.
  4. Add the butter to the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer over low heat.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a bowl just to break them up. Whisk about ¼ of the hot liquid into the yolks.
  6. Return the remaining liquid to low heat and let it come to a full boil. Beginning to whisk beforehand, pour the yolk mixture into the boiling liquid in a stream, but not too slowly—it should take only a few seconds to pour it in.
  7. Switch to a heatproof spatula and stir the curd constantly, scraping the bottom of the pan, until it thickens, about 5 minutes. It will thicken visibly, but will not become extremely thick—most of the thickening occurs while it’s cooling.
  8. Scrape the curd into a glass or stainless-steel bowl and press plastic wrap against the surface. Refrigerate the curd until it is completely cooled and thickened.
  9. When you are ready to serve the tartlets, spoon a generous teaspoon of the curd into each baked crust. Don’t stir or agitate the curd before you fill the crusts, or it might liquefy. Sprinkle the curd with a pinch of coconut or almonds.


These are a classic tea pastry, but are also welcome as a dessert.


The tartlet shells are best on the day they are baked, but you can prepare the curd up to 2 weeks in advance. Fill only as many shells as you need at one time. The curd will keep refrigerated for up to a month, if you have leftovers.


Meyer Lemon Tartlets: Substitute the juice and zest of Meyer lemons for the lemon and lime juice—their mild acidity makes perfect lemon curd.

Lemon Ginger Tartlets: Use all lemon juice and zest in the master recipe. Peel a 1-inch (-cm) length of fresh ginger and cut it into fine slices, then chop coarsely. Add to the lemon juice and zest to steep. Use a slotted spoon to remove and discard the zest and ginger, as in step 3. Garnish each tartlet with a strip or small cube of crystallized ginger.

Orange or Tangerine Tartlets: Use ½ cup orange or tangerine juice and ¼ cup lemon juice in the curd recipe. Use the zest of half an orange and half a lemon for orange curd. For tangerine curd, grate the zest from a tangerine and use it with the zest of half a lemon. Use a slotted spoon to remove and discard the zest as described in step 3.