Lemon Tarts

I check out The Feisty Chef's website pretty regularly - Originally from Shawville, Quebec, Renee Lavalee is the executive chef of The Five Fisherman restaurant here in Halifax. She uses basic, fresh, often local ingredients and combines them to create simple, unadorned dishes bursting with flavour - like her recipe for Key Lime Pie.

As soon as I read Renee's Key Lime Pie post, I knew I wanted to try the recipe - for a few reasons:

1. It seemed too good to be true (read too easy).

2. The recipe includes the option to bake the pie in the oven or chill it in the fridge for a few hours. I wanted to try both.

3. I've been on a condensed milk kick lately since I've discovered Dulce de Leche. (I'll be posting more on that little obsession later.)

4. I found cool cupcake wrappers (at Winners of course!!): 

I have a bottle of organic Italian lemon juice that I brought home from work, so I substituted lemon for lime and added the zest of one lemon. Other than that I followed Feisty's recipe to a tee. (One of the girls I work with also used tried this recipe. She substituted Oreo cookie crumbs for graham crumbs and used blood orange juice instead of lime or lemon.)

Ok, let's start with the cupcake wrappers. I bought them because they were super-cute and colourful, AND, the package claimed you could bake the wrapper straight-up on a cookie sheet - no muffin tin required. I was intrigued.

Mix 1 and 1/4 Cups of graham crumbs, 2 Tbsp of white sugar and 5 Tbsp of melted butter in a bowl. Scoop about a teaspoon of the mixture into each cup and pack down (I used the end of the handle of a wooden spoon). Bake for 10 minutes at 350 and let cool!!

While the crusts cool, make the filling: 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, 4 egg yolks, 3/4 cup of lemon juice and the zest of one lemon (zest is optional). Whisk until your arm is sore and that's it!! I filled the cups about 3/4 of the way full with lemon filling - I baked the orange-coloured cups for 15 minutes at 350 and put the blue-coloured cups in the fridge to set and chill for 4 hours. My plan was to take both versions to work, do a little 'taste test' with the staff and ask them to vote for their favourite. When the orange cups had cooled about 10 minutes I ate one, then another and then another. I probably could have eaten every one, but let's be honest, I had to save room for the chilled tarts!!

Feisty says 'I leave you the option to bake or to not bake…difference is that if you choose not to bake it, I find the lime flavour comes out a lot more (you just need to chill for 3-4 hours). Baking it at 350F for 15 minutes cooks off the egg and mellows out the flavour. Your choice!' As soon as I took a bite of a chilled tart I knew right away that this time around, I definitely preferred the baked version - the crust was crunchier and more buttery in flavour. So I pre-heated to 350 and baked off all of the blue cups. The cups held up surprisingly well - a couple of brown spots here and there but other than that they were perfect. The tarts will be puffed-up in the center when you take them out of the oven but as they cool, they will deflate.

Hmmm, so what about my taste test? I took the tarts to work and passed them around with ONE condition - after eating, write down your thoughts on the lemon tarts in five words or less. Here is the feedback I got:

'perfect amount of lemon'

'to die for!'

'refreshing, crunchy, tart, delicious!!'

'yummmmmm'

'what tart should be'

Feisty Chef FTW.