In the Junkyard Tales: All Together Now story “Letting Go,” just when it seems like spring has sprung at the Junkyard, the sky darkens and it begins to snow. The snow takes Lil Mamma by surprise — her daffodils have just begun to sprout and she fears for their well-being! She doesn't have long to worry, though, because the mysterious mouse, Mitzie Niegel, quickly appears at her door with some kind help and sage advice.
Daffodils are almost magically suited to early spring. More than once, mine have gotten all the way to blooming stage before getting encased in the ice of a late winter storm. But daffodils don't care. As soon as the ice melts, they perk right back up like the snow and ice never happened. No matter what winter throws at them, they're determined to shine as a harbinger of spring.
If you're feeling ready for some of the sunshine a bouquet of daffodils can bring, bake up a batch of these “daffodil” lemon tarts. Even if it's still winter where you live, the bright, tangy lemon curd will have you dreaming of spring in no time.
And speaking of lemon curd, while you can certainly use store-bought for this recipe, it really is worth it to make your own.
It's so delicious, and, I promise, it isn't hard! The key is not to overcook it right at the end. You want the eggs to be gently warmed, not scrambled.
That being said, even if (after your curd has chilled properly) you notice a few small bits of scrambled eggs marring your otherwise silky lemon curd, just run the curd through a fine mesh sieve. Like daffodils after a snowstorm, it will bounce back as bright and sunny as new!
(makes 16 tarts, with lemon curd leftover for other uses)
For the lemon curd:
1 packed tablespoon lemon zest
½ cup lemon juice (4-5 lemons' worth)
½ cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter
For the tart shells:
2 pie crusts, thawed
Cooking spray or butter, to grease the muffin tin
1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar, for dusting
In a heavy saucepan, whisk together the lemon zest, juice, sugar, and eggs. Cut the butter into small cubes. Add it to the pan, and heat the curd over medium-low heat, whisking slowly but constantly so that the lemon curd doesn't boil.
About 5 minutes in, the curd will just start to thicken. Remove it from the heat immediately, and transfer it to a bowl. Cover the bowl, and put the curd into the fridge to chill for at least an hour.
While the curd cools, make the tart shells.
Preheat your oven to 400° Fahrenheit. Grease a mini-muffin tin well, being sure to coat the top of the muffin tin as well as the indentations.
Now roll out the pie dough and use a cookie cutter to cut out flower shapes. (My cookie cutter was about 5 inches wide.)
Gently press 1 dough flower into every other indentation in the muffin tin, pressing the flower petals out towards the sides. Use a fork to deckle the inside of each flower, and bake for 10 minutes, or until the petals are golden brown.
Let the tart shells cool.
Once the lemon curd is chilled, spoon a teaspoon or two of curd into the center of each shell. Dust with powdered sugar. Store both the finished tarts and any remaining lemon curd in the refrigerator. The tarts will be good for 3 days, and the lemon curd will keep for a week.
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred-year-old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two preschoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion — showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun — in her Sparkle Kitchen posts.