key lime tarts


I had a good bit of leftover key lime curd from the key lime cakes, so I whipped up some tarts so it wouldn't go to waste. I used my mini tart pan  and filled the crust with custard and curd. Adding the pastry cream lent a little creaminess to the situation to help balance out the tart curd. Top it off with some fresh fruit, et voilà, a magnifique little treat. Expect a good punch of flavor in a tight little package. 

Key lime tarts


Makes about 24 mini tarts


Tart shells (from Williams Sonoma)

2 1/2 c (390g) all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
16 Tbsp (250g or 8 oz) cold, unsalted butter cut into 1/4 inch pieces
6-8 Tbsp ice water

Pastry cream (from The Kitchn)

1 1/2 c whole milk, heavy cream, or a mix
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract

Key lime curd (from Sugar & Soul)

3 eggs
3/4 c (150g) sugar
1/4 cup fresh squeezed key lime juice (~10-12 key limes)
1 Tbsp key lime zest
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp (2 oz) unsalted butter

What to do

1. Make the key lime curd

  1. In a small pot, off the burner, whisk together eggs and sugar until well blended.
  2. Whisk in key lime juice, zest, and salt.
  3. Heat on medium-low burner and stir fast and constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture is warmed through.
  4. Add the butter about a tablespoon at a time until melted, and the curd becomes smooth.
  5. Continue stirring constantly over heat until the curd thickens and looks almost creamy (should coat the back of a spoon).
  6. Optionally, you may strain the curd through a cheese cloth or fine mesh sieve into a medium bowl to remove the zest and any small clumps. (I didn't). Or just place the curd into a medium sized bowl. 
  7. Place cling wrap over the top of the curd. It should touch the curd and cover it completely to help avoid a skin from forming. Pop it in the fridge until completely cooled, about an hour or so.

2. Make the pastry cream

  1. Warm the milk in a saucepan until you start to see wisps of stem (should not boil).
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt. Add the egg yolks and whisk them into the dry ingredients. This will form a thick paste that may look crumbly or smooth.
  3. Pour a little of the hot milk into the egg mixture and whisk to combine. Continue pouring the milk slowly into the eggs a bit at a time, whisking in between. 
  4. Pour back into the mixture back into the saucepan. Set a strainer over a bowl near the stove.
  5. Set the saucepan back over medium heat, whisking constantly. At first the pastry cream will look thin and frothy, but it will start to thicken after a few minutes. When it is pudding-like consistency, pause every few seconds to see if the cream has come to a boil. If you see large bubbles popping on the surface, whisk for a few more seconds, then remove the pan from heat. 
  6. Stir the vanilla into the pastry cream, then pour through the strainer. Stir to push the cream through the strainer. This will catch any pieces of cooked egg that might be in your pastry cream.
  7. Cover the pastry cream with a layer of plastic wrap pressed against the surface of the cream and chill completely. 

3. Make the tart shells

  1. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine.  Add butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 6 Tbsp of ice water and pulse twice. The dough should hold together when squeezed between fingers (but not sticky). If it is crumbly, add more water 1 tsp at a time.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide in half. Shape each into a disk and warp in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
  3. Remove the dough from the fridge and let stand for 5 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  4. Place a dough disk on a lightly floured surface and roll out to 3/16" thick. Using the cutter in the baking set, cut out a tart shell. Center the cutout over one of the wells and using the tamper, gently but firmly press the cutout into the well. The sides of the tart shell should come just above the pan. Repeat until all the dough all the tart wells are filled. 
  5. Poke the bottom of the tart shell once with a fork. Rip some aluminum foil into roughly 3"x3" squares. Gently place the foil into the tart shell and place some pie weights or beans onto the foil to prevent puffing up while baking. 
  6. Bake the tarts for about 20 minutes or until golden brown, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove the weights and foil. Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. 

4. Assemble the tarts. Pipe or spoon a layer of pastry cream in the bottom of the tart shells. Then pipe or spoon key lime curd on top of the pastry cream. Top the curd with fresh fruit of your choice. 

5. Eat

What I learned

  • Next time I'll try to roll the dough a little thinner. The tart pan set recipe called for rolling it 3/16" thick, and I relied on eyeballing it, so it probably was more like a 1/4" thick. That might not seem like much more, but it translates to a 25% thicker dough crammed into a tiny well, so it adds up. 
  • My pastry cream was a little overcooked. What can you do? Oh right, cook it less... Don't try to multi-task when making pastry cream. Just devote your attention to making sure it has the right consistency so you pull it off the heat at the right time. 
  • I recommend making the key lime curd and pastry cream the day before assembling, so it has plenty of time to cool and set up.

the 'gram