I love my lemons.
Think about it – they’re so incredibly versatile that it’s almost a little bit suspicious.
Need to add a fresh ‘zing’ to your fish, potatoes or salad? Just squeeze over some fresh lemon juice.
Wanna stop your cut apple from going icky and brown? Rub the surface with a little fresh lemon.
Have a bit of a stinky issue in your refrigerator from someone forgetting that they’ve left a few whiting in there to ‘defrost overnight’ for three nights in a row? Throw some lemon in there (it works rather well with smells caused by other sources too)
Getting a tickle in your throat from an oncoming cold or yelling too much at the most recent football match (whether that be AFL OR soccer)? Dump a slice of fresh lemon in a cup of boiling water and let it work its magic.
Suffering from dandruff/acne/eczema/blackheads/freckles or wrinkles? Put some lemon on it! (Actually, please don’t – while lemon is fantastic, I’m not sure that rubbing a fresh lemon slice on dandruff is quite the best way to go about getting rid of it. I don’t endorse any of these beauty uses for lemon, but hey, if you’re that bored then I guess I can’t stop you…)
In fact, I love lemons so much that often my problem is not trying to use them all before they get manky, but rather HOW do I use them all and which of my favourite lemon recipes will grace my kitchen while others have to wait for another day.
Did I mention how much I love lemons?
One easy standby lemon recipe is lemon curd.
This, my friends, is some good shit.
You can keep eat it by the spoonful, it is DIVINE on a buttered bagel (trust me on this), you can use it to fill cakes and cupcakes and even sandwich butter cookies. It’s sweet and tart and sour and carries a massive lemon punch and is just one of those things that your fridge is probably a better place with than without.
Best of all? It takes nothing but lemon, sugar and eggs. Gluten-free and nut-free and the perfect thing for dessert time if you’re dealing with allergies Well, so long as you love lemon. But let’s be honest – what’s not to love?
200g caster sugar
3 large organic eggs
120g unsalted butter, diced
1. Zest the lemons, then juice them (leaving out all the pips and bits) and combine with the zest.
2. Lightly beat together the eggs then run through a fine sieve. This is necessary to make sure the curd cooks evenly and reduces the chances of getting big chunks of egg in your curd as it cooks.
3. Combine the strained egg with the lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar in a large heat-proof bowl. Prepare a separate bowl with iced water and set aside.
4. Bring a pot of water to a low simmer, then place the bowl with the lemon mixture on top and stir continuously till it thickens considerably and coats the sides of the bowl and the back of the spoon. This should take about 20-30 minutes.
5. As soon the curd is cooked, remove it from on top of the pot and place it on top of the iced water while stirring continuously for another 5-10 minutes. Add the butter, once piece at a time and stir vigorously till it is all incorporated.
6. Store in a clean, airtight container for up to 2 weeks in the fridge and enjoy however you’d like!
As wonderful as lemon curd is, you know there is something that (to me) is just a step better!
Lemon cream is simply a combination of lemon curd and cream in a ratio of 1:3, whipped together till it stiffens up and takes on a lovely pale color like in the above picture.
I find that the cream doesn’t detract from the lemony flavour at all, oh no. In fact, what it does is that it retains the sparkling citrus punch but carries it in a better texture – one that is airy and smooth, almost like a creamy mousse.
And this, my friends, is the ultimate lemon filling.
The texture is too good to be described. Lemon curd is pretty smooth and silky, but there is some sticky and gooeyness to it that is hard for some people to get past. Once it’s combined with cream, it just becomes this light-as-air mixture that dissipates on the tongue and melts into nothing but the essensce of lemon.
And by now, we all agree that this is a good thing.
These lemon tartelettes are something that can be prepared in advance for quick and easy assembly just before being served, but can also be made 2 to 3 days in advance and just stored in the fridge in an airtight container. Though, as a responsible food blogger, I probably should warn you that the inherent danger in taking the latter path is that you may find yourself sneaking a tartlette whenever you walk past the fridge. Or two. Or three.
Not that I succumb to this at all.
Of course not.
Shut up, thighs.
Cute Lemon Tartelettes
120g unsalted butter
1/4 cup caster sugar
Pinch of salt
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose/plain flour
1/3 cup lemon curd
2/3 cup thickened or double cream
Chopped roasted nuts (pistachios are a favourite)
Candied lemon zest
1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C, then place all the ingredients for the crust into a food processor and blitz till just combined. If doing this by hand, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt and set aside. Beat together the butter and vanilla, then combine with the flour mixture.
2. Lightly butter and flour your tart cases (silicone mini muffin trays are GREAT for making tiny little tartelettes!), then press the pastry into each case in a thin, uniform layer. This is a veeeeery crumbly shortcrust so don’t even think about rolling it out and laying it into pastry cases the traditional wait.
3. Using rice / beans / pastry weights, blind bake your pastry for approx 30 minutes, or till golden (the time will differ according to the size of the pastry so it’s a good idea to check it every 10 minutes.
4. While the pastry is baking, whip together the lemon curd and cream till the mixture has approximately tripled in size and is fluffy and very pale yellow. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent the surface from drying out, then store in the fridge.
5. Once the pastry is cooked, remove to a wire rack and cool completely. The pastry cases can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week without being filled. Or, once they’ve cooled down, you can fill them with the lemon cream and decorations of choice and serve immediately!
Other lemon recipes you might be interested in: