These delectable morsels are perfect for just about any occasion. Elegant enough for a bridal or baby shower and bite sized for an appetizer heavy party. You can make large quantities of them easily and highlight any of the best fruits of whatever season you’re in. I went with raspberries because I don’t think there’s anything that pairs quite as nicely with a bright tart lemon creme than a fresh sweet raspberry. The buttery rich shortbread crust makes the silky lemon creme filling sing! They are beautiful on a platter and delightful to eat as well.
Start by preparing the filling and let it refrigerate a couple days to fully develop the flavors. If you like, the tart shells can be made ahead of time and frozen until ready to use. You will need two batches of the shortbread to use up all the filling – if you can keep from eating the filling with a spoon that is.
I used my trusty melon baller to scoop balls of the rich dough into a mini muffin (tart) pan.
Smoosh up the sides of the pan and prick lightly with a fork.
Freeze briefly then bake, checking to be sure the tarts don’t puff up too much. Prick again if needed.
Once tarts are cooled, remove them from the pan. This means completely cooled…don’t get all excited and try to remove them when they’re even a little warm. They will crumble apart on you. I’m not the most patient person in the world, and the buttery goodness of these tarts called to me. I couldn’t resist, and I ruined a couple before realizing I just needed to wait a little longer.
Dollop filling using spoons, or fill a ziploc/pastry bag and pipe the filling in.
Top with the fruit of your choice.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
Cream Cheese Filling
1-8-oz. package cream cheese – softened
1-14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
Zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Garnish: Any combination of berries (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries) or other fruit such as slices of kiwi.
Lightly butter, or spray with a nonstick spray 36 mini muffin tins. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and place rack in the center of the oven.
Cream the butter and powdered sugar about 2 minutes until slightly fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract.
Add the flour, cornstarch and salt, mix until incorporated.
Scoop about 2 teaspoons (small melon baller) of dough into each muffin tin and press the dough up the sides of the pan with your fingertips so there’s an indentation in the middle. Prick lightly with a fork.
Once filled, place the tart pan with the unbaked shells in the freezer for about 10 minutes so the shortbread can become firm. This will prevent the shortbread from puffing up during baking.
Bake for 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned. About halfway through the baking time, lightly prick the bottom of each shortbread, with the tines of a fork again, if they have puffed up. Check again after another five minutes and prick again if needed.
Once they are fully baked, remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. When completely cooled, remove the tarts from the pan.
Cream Cheese Filling: In your food processor or electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add the condensed milk, lemon juice, zest, and vanilla and process just until smooth. (Do not over process or the filling will be too runny.) Transfer the filling to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until serving time. (It is best to make the filling at least a day in advance to give it time to become firm and for all the flavors to mingle).
To serve: Using a pastry bag with a large tip, or a ziploc bag with the end snipped off, fill the tart shells with the cream cheese filling. The filled tart shells can be made several hours in advance and refrigerated. Just before serving top with fresh berries or cut up fruit.
Makes about 36 – 2 inch miniature tarts.
From – The Best of Bridge Publishing Ltd. The Best of Bridge. Calgary