Strawberry and lemon cream tartelettes

Spring is finally here! And with it, the first strawberries of the season. Though this weekend’s weather is supposed to be shocking, I think I’m happy to stay warm indoors and dream about the lovely flowers, fresh berries and stone fruit on the way! I must say though, that the strawberries we seem to have been flooded with are still pretty raw and not as red or as sweet as later in the season, so my hunger for fresh berries hasn’t been satiated. Hopefully we’ll score some good finds at the farmers market this week. But, I had a million plans for the berries we did get our hands on last week, and these tartelettes with lemon cream was one of them. However, they were a huge pain! And though they are strawberry and lemon cream tartelettes, they are also known as fugly tartelettes because, well, they are fondly ugly ;)

And the reason why I make fugly tarts is because I have a love-hate relationship with pastry. Which is a problem because I love making tarts. I’ve taken to sticking to making biscuit bases but part of me feels like it’s a cop out and also, sometimes you just need a good shortcrust or pâte sucrée. This was one of those occasions. I envisioned a buttery, crisp pastry to go with the lush lemon cream. However, the pastry just did not cooperate with me!

The tartelette shells needed to be blind baked, and I painstakingly cut up little squares of baking paper and spooned rice as weights, but once they were in the oven for a while, I knew something was wrong. The pastry started shrinking away from the edges and frankly, they looked horrid! :( Soy happened to ring me then, and I had a rant and threatened to just bin the whole thing, I was that fed up!

So I left the tray with the shells to cool, and I went to do something else in order to soothe my nerves. And when I finally came back to them and popped them out of the moulds, I actually thought that they didn’t look too bad, and that it would be a waste to just throw away all the shells in a huff, and decided to go ahead and make my filling anyway. These tartelettes are really simple to make if you have a better relationship with pastry than I do, which I’m sure you do, and all you need to whip up is the cream, top with fresh fruit and that’s it! These would be a perfect accompaniment to a special afternoon tea.

Even though I wasn’t happy with how the tart shells looked, I must say that they tasted pretty good! Once baked, they smelt amazing. You know how smell makes up half of how we taste? These tartelettes are a prime example of this- I could smell the buttery crust, the slight tang and vanilla aroma of the lemon cream and finally, the tart, fruity perfume of fresh strawberries. And when you take a bite of them, they were all that I was hoping for- the crunch of the tart crust, the lush velvety cream and the fresh berries all came together so beautifully in one mouthful. My brother and sister polished them off that night and were appalled when I told them I had actually wanted to throw them away!

So, have you had failures in the kitchen that actually turned out well in the end?

Strawberry and lemon cream tartelettes

I have not included the pastry recipe I used since it caused me so much headache, but any trusted shortcrust or pâte sucrée recipe will do.

For the lemon cream,

1:3 ratio of lemon curd and fresh cream whipped together

Lemon curd

3 lemons

200g caster sugar

3 eggs

120g butter, cut into cubes

Finely zest the lemons. Juice the lemons, then add the zest back into the lemon juice.

Beat the eggs and pass through a fine sieve. Put the beaten eggs, sugar and lemon zest and juice into a large heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, and stir the mixture continuously with a wooden spoon until it thickens and coats the back of the spoon (about 20-30min).

Remove the bowl from the heat, then add the butter in a little at a time, stir and incorporate well into the mixture.

Store your lemon curd in a clean glass jar. It can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

To assemble your tartelettes:

Fill your baked tartelette shells with lemon cream, and top with fresh berries. Enjoy!

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  • Michelle Chin

    They look not too bad. I mean, they look organic and homemade for sure. :) Sometimes, my sister’s muffins look like alien but they taste like heaven! I’m sure the tarts are too.

    So far, I only had two failures in the kitchen. One is from making pork ragout. The recipe asks for 20 leaves of sage but I put in dried sage. The recipe asked for fresh sage. I did not read the fine print.

    Another failure is from making Irish stew. My sister was putting in some parmesan for a nice cheesy flavour but the container tipped over. The cheese destroyed the whole thing…

    Both turned out ugly.

    Oh, I bet mascarpone will be a good substitute for the lemon cream. :)

  • Iron Chef Shellie

    lol i love the look of your fugly tarts!

  • Anonymous

    I have sooo been there sweetie! But usually the thought of starting again not to mention the expense, is enough to make me bite my lip and keep going. Don’t give up, the magic pastry for you is out there somewhere, or if you use shop pastry, I promise it will be our secret and I won’t tell anyone! BTW, if you went to the markets today you are braver than me. I am nursing a cold and watching the yucky weather through the window!

  • honeyandsoy

    Hahahaha you made us laugh so much! Guess what, we didn’t go to the markets either!!! :D We woke up, saw the rain and decided staying in bed was much more appealing! But then Soy made us French toast and eggs so we are now full and warm and happy indoors :) and yes, the effort and expense of starting over was what stopped me from binning the tarts. And also the realisation that that behaviour is acceptable from a 2 year old but not a sensible adult that I try to be (most of the time) ;)

  • honeyandsoy

    Thank you Shellie!!! But you see what I mean, don’t you? Sigh… just have to laugh at times like this!

  • honeyandsoy

    Hahaha! Oh my goodness Michelle that is hilarious!!!! Esp the container of cheese! Well, last week Soy added 3 tablespoons of yeast to her bread mix instead of 3 tsp so that’s not that bad ;) and you know what, Soy loves alien-looking muffins, but I never seem to be able to make them grotesque-looking enough. Mine always seem to flatten out and look uniform, which according to her, doesn’t taste as good!

    And yes, mascarpone will be brilliant! That’s the other tart I make with biscuit base. Same sort of combination- biscuit base, mascarpone sweetened a little with honey and topped with fresh strawberries. Sometimes, melted dark chocolate on the biscuit base. Yummy!

  • My Restaurants Melbourne

    mmm they look so delicious!!!! great for spring

  • honeyandsoy

    Thanks 8)

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    You don’t make fugly tarts at all! They look great! :)

  • Von

    I have a love-hate relationship with pastry too! Although it could be because of the fact that can never be bothered to use pastry weights…..
    These tarts look delicious though! I think strawberries make everything look good =]

    Most of my bakes are disasters which end up not as bad as they seem…haha
    The other day, I baked a chocolate cake but ran out of chocolate and must have done something wrong because it ended up all flat and ugly. And it was for someone else too =( But then I went ahead anyway (bad cake is better than no cake..right??) and iced it and decorated it with strawberries, so it actually looked good =) It didn’t end up tasting too bad…….haha

  • Anna Johnston

    Cute little tartlets these. Keep up the search for your perfect pastry. Its out there somewhere :)

  • honeyandsoy

    Hahaha thanks Lorraine! Think we are all our own biggest critic, no? ;)

  • honeyandsoy

    Hahaha I think you might be on to something there, Von- about strawberries making everything look good. I certainly think so!

  • honeyandsoy

    Thanks Anna, I do think I need to find a pastry that can withstand my OCD-ness with mixing and overworking dough…

  • Anonymous

    Hee hee, I just posted about a strawberry lemon muffins myself! Though…mine didn’t come out half as pretty and delightful as yours!

  • Yuki

    What a coincidence, i made something similar! I just made some strawberry with rosewater cream tarts! Just did some photoshooting with them, so they should be up soon ^^

  • Faith

    Strawberry and lemon together is fantastic! I think your tartlettes look pretty cute — I love that second picture!

  • One Perfect Bite

    I am in love. This is my first visit here and based on your tarts spent some time reading your earlier posts. I love your recipes and the food you feature here. I’ll be back often. Have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  • One Perfect Bite

    Based on your lovely tarts I’ve spent some time reading your earlier posts. It was time well spent. I love the food and recipes you feature here. I’ll be back often. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings…Mary

  • Radishesandrhubarb

    The tarts look lovely, despite the struggle with finicky pastry. Reading your post was bitter-sweet for me because I can’t believe we are on the verge of Autumn, with strawberry season so far behind us. It feels like we just started the season and it is already gone, sigh.

  • honeyandsoy

    Aww thank you! I thought you left a link to your muffins… I wanted to go have a look!

  • honeyandsoy

    Awesome! Will head over to have a look! :)

  • honeyandsoy

    I think lemon and strawberries go together really well, too, Faith! I took so many photos of these tarts cos it was such a cloudy day- glad to get some good shots!

  • honeyandsoy

    Thanks Mary, we had a look at your site and OMG we love it! Such a range and I at least, am very impartial to your pink Saturdays ;)

  • honeyandsoy

    Aww you know what Alison? That was exactly how I was feeling during the last few months when we were in the throes of winter and everyone over on your hemisphere was blogging about fresh berries and summery dishes. Now it’s our turn! :D The good news is though, that now we can swap recipes!

  • Radishesandrhubarb

    True, I can stockpile good summer recipes to try next year!

  • Anonymous

    Nawww, at least they tasted fantastic!
    Hurry up spring! I’d love to go strawberry picking in the sunshine then come home and make cute tartelettes like these.

    Unfortunately, my failures are spectacular. Wish they were edible.