I dreamed up these gingersnap mini lemon curd tarts when I came upon a recipe that suggested a new way to make lemon curd. I already had an easy and wonderful lemon curd recipe, but when I adopted this one simple revision, it took lemon curd to a whole new level. Spoon it into an easy gingersnap crust and you have my idea of heaven on a plate.
There are flavor combinations that drive me practically to distraction, they are so good. Lemon and ginger is one of those. In the case of these mini tarts, the contrast in textures works well with the flavor combination. The lemon curd is buttery smooth as well as tart. The gingersnap crust is spicy yet sweet, with a delightfully buttery crunch. Need I say more? Yin and yang to the nth.
These mini tarts have only 5 ingredients, all of which are pantry staples in my house.
(What, you don’t keep gingersnaps around? That’s easily remedied with a quick trip to your local grocery.) I will admit a particular fondness for Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger Gingersnaps, but any brand will do. If you made them from scratch, you would get extra points, but I never do.
Making the gingersnap shells is easy – use the same technique as for the chocolate shells in the chocolate peanut butter tartlets.
Mini tarts, tartlets – same story different day. Didn’t someone say that consistency was the hobgoblin of a small mind?
This is perhaps the easiest lemon curd recipe you’ll ever make. Unlike many lemon curd recipes that call for double boilers and all sorts of precautions, all you need for this one is a bit of patience, a heavy saucepan, and a whisk.
My longtime favorite curd is from Dessert University, a lovely cookbook by former White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier. (For a guy who had a rather lofty job in the world of sweets and pastries, Mesnier provides a number of surprisingly simple recipes. I love the book, especially because my friend Rachel got it through another chef she knows and somehow she got M. Mesnier to handwrite a dedication to me in the front. I smile every time I open it.) In the Dessert University lemon curd, you put all the curd ingredients (lemons juice and rind, eggs, sugar, and butter) into a saucepan, bring them to a boil, and continue boiling them for 30 seconds, whisking constantly.
I modified that technique with a tip from Tartine Bakery’s recipe on Food52 – instead of melting butter in with the other ingredients, add cold chunks of butter at the end, using a blender to incorporate them into the lemon, egg, and sugar mixture. It’s still easy to make, just creamier and even more heavenly. I used my immersion blender, which worked just fine. My only note of caution is to remember that the lemon curd is hot when you add the cold butter, so be sure to use a tall bowl or container.
All that is left to do is chill it for a few hours, with plastic wrap pressed tightly against the top to prevent a skin from forming as the curd chills.
In terms of ingredients, I began with the Dessert University recipe, then reduced the lemon juice and rind to make it a bit less tart than Mesnier’s version. The result is delectable.
And the best news of all is that you’ll have a bit of curd left over if you use the same size mini tart pans that I did – about 3 1/2 inches wide and 3/4 inch deep. It’s divine mixed with yogurt for a snack or simply by eaten the spoonful.
I’ve also made these mini tarts with lemon-lime curd. The same basic curd recipe, just with a mix of about half lemons and half limes. I froze the curd. The day I made the gingersnap crusts, I simply defrosted the curd, filled them, and refrigerated them until serving that night. Dessert in minutes!
Gingersnap Mini Lemon Curd Tarts
- 1 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs
- 10 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick + 2 1/2 tablespoons)
- 4 ounces fresh lemon juice + zest of the lemons from about 2 large or 4 small lemons, (about 1 tablespoon)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees F.
- Melt 2 1/2 tablespoons of the butter. (Set aside the remaining stick/8 tablespoons, keeping it cold.)
- Mix the melted butter and the gingersnap crumbs, until they are well combined into a buttery mixture. Put 1/4 cup of the mixture into each of the four mini tart or tartlet pans (or ramekins if you don't have the tart-shaped pans.) Press it down firmly against the bottom and sides of each pan. Bake them on a cookie sheet for 8 minutes, then cool the shells to room temperature. If the bottoms have puffed up or the sides have shrunk down a bit during the baking, press them back into shape.
- Combine the lemon juice, lemon rind, sugar and eggs in a heavy saucepan. Bring them to a boil under medium heat, whisking constantly. Once they come to a boil, lower the heat slightly and continue to boil the mixture, whisking constantly, for one minute.
- Take the saucepan off the heat and pour the mixture into a blender or deep container if using an immersion blender.
- One tablespoon at a time, add the stick of cold butter, blending after each addition.
- Pour the mixture into a non-reactive bowl (Pyrex or similar heatproof glass bowl), then let the mixture cool down to room temperature or just barely. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap, making sure that the wrap is pressed against the top of the mixture. Refrigerate for at least several hours, until the lemon curd in well chilled.
- Spoon the lemon curd into the mini tart or tartlet pans and smooth it out. I use a bit of candied ginger in the middle of each mini tart/tartlet, but that's not necessary.
When zesting the lemons, use a fine grater or zester and go only as far as the outside yellow rind. Do not deeper to the white pith inside the lemon, as that is bitter.
If you're careful, you could use a spoon instead of a whisk to stir the lemon curd, but a whisk is preferable. Keep whisking constantly as the mixture heats (this is no time to check your phone for messages) or or you'll get scrambled eggs.
The total time listed above does not include the chilling time for the curd - it keeps well in a covered container or jar, so you can make the ingredients a day ahead and fill the mini tarts at the last minute.
For more yummy lemon and ginger sweets, check out: