These mini lemon tarts with Italian meringue and strawberries epitomize the freshness and calmness of summer. As you eat one of these mini lemon meringue tarts, picture yourself sitting under a shady tree on a warm sunny day with the breeze passing by. That’s how these tarts should make you feel when you take a bite! Read on below for tips and the recipe.
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What are Mini Lemon Tarts with Italian Meringue and Strawberries?
Mini lemon meringue tarts with strawberries consist of a pate sablee crust, lemon curd, Italian meringue, and thinly sliced strawberries. I’m sure the components aren’t too surprising, but we often use French meringue for tarts and pies instead of Italian meringue.
Italian meringue is basically a glorified meringue. It’s silky, smooth, creamy, and fluffy all in one. It has a beautiful shine, and you don’t have to bake it unless desired because the hot sugar syrup cooks the egg whites as it whips.
For a more in depth look at Italian meringue, check out this post here.
5 Tips for Making the Best Mini Lemon Meringue Tarts
First, for a tender and buttery crust, cream the room temperature butter with the sugar, add the egg, and then mix the dry ingredients in just until incorporated. Over mixing creates a tough crust, so it’s important to stop mixing right when the ingredients come together.
Second, allow the dough to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes so that the gluten relaxes and the butter become cold and firm. This creates a really tender and beautiful dough that bakes up perfectly.
Third, always use pie weights when making tart crusts. Pie weights, rice, or dried beans can all be used to fill the unbaked tart shells (along with some parchment or foil) so that the shells hold their shape and don’t shrink during baking.
Fourth, add lemon zest to the lemon curd so that is has a really bright lemon flavor. It adds more depth and creates more interest for your tastebuds. You can make the lemon curd ahead and pipe it into the shells, or pour it into the cools tart shells while the curd is warm. Either way, it will taste delightful.
Fifth, and this is just a matter of preference, but you can add a tablespoon of cornstarch to the lemon curd if you want the curd to be stiffer like the lemon curd in a lemon pie. Otherwise, enjoy the silky smooth texture of my lemon curd because it’s amazing!
How to Caramelize Meringue
There are 2 ways to caramelize or brown the meringue:
The first option is to put the meringue covered tarts in the oven and bake them for 10 minutes at 350 until the meringue is golden. This method gives the tarts the most even browning.
The second option is to use a small torch to create that beautiful caramelization. This option allows for more definition to the swoops and whirls on the tart since you can target specific areas. You will also see more white on the surface of the meringue than if it went into the oven, which gives it a nice contrast to the caramelized edges.
Either method works well, so pick your favorite method!
Essential Baking Tools
- Mini 4″ tart tins
- A whisk to make the lemon curd
- One medium glass or metal bowl for the curd
- A stand mixer (this is a great budget option)
- One small or medium sized pot
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For the Pate Sablee Crust (Shortcrust Pastry)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cake flour (substitute ap flour if you can’t find cake flour)
For the Lemon Curd
- 4 large whole eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice, strained and pulp removed
- Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 10 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces, at room temperature
- 1 Tbs cornstarch (optional for a stiffer curd)
- A handful of fresh strawberries
For the Italian Meringue
- 100 grams or 3 large egg whites, room temperature
- 225 (1 cup + 2 Tbs) grams granulated sugar
- 55 grams (approx. 3 3/4 Tbs) water
To Make the Pate Sablee (Shortcrust Pastry)
- Cream the butter and sugar on low in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
- Add the egg yolk and mix.
- Add all dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Remove the dough from the mixer and shape into a flat round disk. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- If the dough chills for more than an hour, let the dough sit out for 20-30 minutes so that it is easier to work with. The dough gets really firm when it chills for a long time.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and begin making the tarts.
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out into a circle that is 1/8 inch thick.
- Place a 4 inch tart pan upside down on the dough and cut out a circle that is an inch bigger than the mini tart pan. Repeat until all tart shell circles are cut.
- Next, press the dough into the tart pans and remove the excess dough along the edges with the palm of your hand or with a knife.
- Prick the tarts with a fork so no air pockets form, and then line with parchment and pie weights (or rice) so that the tarts keep their shape while baking.
- Bake mini tarts for 23-28 minutes. The tarts are done when the edges are lightly golden.
- Carefully remove the pie weights and liners and allow the tarts to cool completely.
To Make the Lemon Curd
- See the directions here for the lemon curd.
- Remove the tarts from their pans and place on a serving tray or sheet pan. Fill with warm lemon curd until tart shells are 3/4 full. You can pipe the lemon curd or use a spoon and spread it. Either method works great.
- Next, slice the strawberries thinly and place one layer of strawberries on top of the curd in each mini tart.
- Then prepare the Italian meringue.
To Make the Italian Meringue
- Measure out eggs and pour them into a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
- Add the sugar and water to a medium pot and turn the heat to medium. Don’t turn the heat up to high, as this can cause the temperature to rise too rapidly and go above the correct temperature.
- Turn the mixer onto speed 4 or 5 on a 10 speed mixer and let the mixer run while the sugar syrup is cooking.
- Check the whites every minute or so until it reaches stiff peaks. Turn the mixer on high for a minute or two if the whites aren’t at stiff peaks by the time the sugar syrup reaches temperature.
- When the sugar syrup reaches 240 degrees, remove it from the heat. Turn the mixer to speed 5 and slowly pour the hot syrup into the whipping egg whites. For the best results, pour the syrup into the mixer between the edge of the bowl and the moving whisk. It can be a bit tricky, so pour slowly to keep it from splattering all over the bowl and your face!
- Mix on medium high speed until the bottom of the bowl is cool to the touch and the meringue forms stiff peaks or almost stiff peaks. Either will do!
- Remove from mixer and set aside.
- Top mini lemon tarts with Italian meringue and spread to the edges so it covers or almost covers the curd and berries completely.
- Brown the meringue in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes, or use a kitchen torch to quickly brown the meringue.
- Chill for 1 hour to make sure the meringue and curd are nice and cold. Enjoy!
- Store the tarts in the fridge until serving. These are best eaten the same day while the crust is perfectly crisp, but they are still good for a couple of days afterward. The crust will soften slightly, but it doesn’t get soggy.
This is a Baker Street Society original recipe. If you would like to modify this recipe for your own blog, please give credit as this is the honest thing to do!
Keywords: pate sablee, shortcrust pastry, mini lemon tarts, italian meringue