Freeform Lemon Meringue Tarts with Lavender Cardamom Crust

Thank the Lord it is almost summer again, and I can stop paying over a buck for a lemon.  If I had been making these Lemon Tarts 3 months ago, I’d have had a small fortune in them, for too many reasons.


Let me tell you a story you don’t care to hear.

I’ll be honest, when I think of dessert, I naturally lean towards cake, cookies, or brownies.  But I do enjoy pie if it’s done right.  Meaning – from scratch.  Please don’t serve me a store bought crust.  I don’t like plain old crusts, and I will scoop the filling out every.single.time.  Those pre-made crusts are like cardboard and powdered sugar. They’re weird. They’re tough.  They’re cheap and you know it.  Skip making the pie if you are going to resort to one of those things.

Okay, rant over.

I’ve had these tarts on the brain for a couple of months now. Spring started so early in many places this year, and Virginia was no exception. So for me, lemons are about summer, and I am ready for a taste of it. And if I am going to go to the trouble of making a decadent, pucker-up and die of happiness lemon curd, I am going to make a crust that’s as good on its own as it is cradling that lemony deliciousness.

Oh, and don’t forget a pile of baked meringue that’s tall and swirling in sweet peaks of toasted glory.  Gotta have the meringue.

So over the weekend, lemons finally went on sale, and I picked up enough of them to make these tarts.

Or so I thought.

Imagine, if you will, your good mood turned lemony sour.


It started with my inability to locate anything in my newly remodeled kitchen.  It seems nothing has found its new home yet, and to my dismay, my KitchenAid Juicer attachment was nowhere to be found.  As in – NOWHERE.  For over half an hour, I searched high and low for the juicer.  Finally, I gave up and started juicing the lemons by hand.

No big deal, right?

Riiiggghhhtt.  After juicing all the lemons I had on hand, because I was just squeezing versus actually juicing, I was a little low on the amount of juice I needed. What to do?  Well, I decided the back of a spoon pressed into each of the lemon halves would yield me enough juice to make the tarts.

Except I managed to knock over the entire bowl of juice in the middle of that “spoon juicing”.  Violently.  Lemon juice covered the counters, the cabinets, the floor.  Not a drop remained in the bowl, and I was furious.  Combined with the inability to find the juicer, the spilled juice put me over the edge.


I cleaned up the juice, cried a little, and decided I was going to bed, despite it being 2 in the afternoon.

Luckily Jon lassoed me back in to sanity, located the juicer, and ventured back to Food Lion to procure the lemons I needed.  Either he really wanted pie, or he didn’t want to see my face explode.  He won’t say which.

Now that the backstory is out of the way, let’s talk tarts.

Freeform tarts are genius.  No need to make a perfect pie crust or spend lots of time pressing dough into tiny little tart shells.  All you need to do is divide up the dough, roll it into balls, and smash them flat.  Voila…Freeform Tart Shells.


For mine, as I said, I hate boring crusts.  But this crust?  It’s amazing.  It’s soft, it’s full of richness.  You could eat it alone, with a glass of milk and be happy.  For starters, I used great butter (Kerrygold, of course!) and sugar.  Yes, sugar makes a difference, believe it or not.  The storebrand is often cheaper, but I bet you’ll find that it has clumps, the crystals are larger, and it’s “dusty”, for lack of a better word.  I used Dixie Crystals, because I am lucky enough to live in the south, and I can get my hands on it.  Great stuff.  For a punch of flavor I added lemon zest, lavender buds and cardamom.  I can’t tell you how amazing it turned out!  I could have eaten the dough straight out of the food processor (and did, Shhhh!).  I hope you’ll try it!

While the tart crusts baked, I made the lemon curd, which comes together easily and surprisingly quickly.  Then, while the lemon and crusts cool, you can whip together the meringue.  Time management, kids.  It’s almost like I know what I’m doing.

Just don’t ask me where I’ve managed to hide the new ceramic pie pan.

Or the juicer.


Freeform Lemon Meringue Tarts with Lavender Cardamom Crust

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 50 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: 6 5-inch Tarts (roughly 12 servings)


    For the Crust
  • 3/4 cup cold salted butter; cut into pieces
  • 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tablespoon lavender buds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup ice water
  • For the Filling
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 6 large egg yolks, beaten
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • For the Meringue
  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar


    For the Crust
  1. Combine all ingredients save for the water in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until dough has combined and has oat size and pea sized bits. Slowly add ice cold water until dough pulls away from sides of the bowl. Do not overmix. (Without a food processor, combine ingredients in a bowl and mix with a pastry cutter. Add water a bit at a time until dough comes together.
  2. Remove dough from bowl and gingerly knead into a ball, incorporating any scraps or dry ingredients. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350. Remove from plastic wrap and divide into 6 even pieces. Roll each into a disk, and flatten to 1/8 inch, approximately 5 inches in diameter. Place on parchment lined baking sheet or SilPat.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  5. For the Filling
  6. Bring water to a boil in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for round 5 minutes. In a separate bowl whisk the sugar, cornstarch, and lemon zest together, then add the mixture slowly to the hot water, whisking constantly until incorporated.
  7. Place mixture over medium heat,continuing to whisk until it comes to a boil and becomes very thick.
  8. Add about half of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, and whisk until smooth. Carefully whisk the warmed yolks into the pot and continue cooking and whisking until mixture comes to a boil.
  9. Remove from heat and add butter,lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Allow to cool roughly 10 minutes, then add by large spoonfuls to the cooled tart crusts.
  10. For the Meringue
  11. Preheat oven to 425.
  12. Beat eggwhites, cream of tartar, salt and vanilla until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar until stiff peaks form and meringue is shiny. Pipe or spread onto prepared tarts.
  13. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until meringue is browned. Allow tarts to cool, serve, and enjoy!


The Giveaway

You can certainly opt to use a bowl and a pastry cutter to make your crusts, but honestly, a food processor makes it SO much easier.  So. Much. Easier.  I have the new KitchenAid 13 Cup Food Processor, and it whips out flaky crusts in a few pulses.  Perfect size, too – the 13 cup size will easily hold this recipe, and quite possibly double the recipe.  Which I may attempt next time.

Of course I will.

Would you like to have one of these gorgeous new KitchenAid Food Processors?  It does just about everything under the sun.  It shreds. It chops.  It slices a freaking tomato.  Yes, really.  There is a bowl within the bowl.  There are more blades and gadgets on this thing than my first car.  So again, I ask you…would you like to have one?

Of course you would!  Well, it just may be your lucky day.

Tell me you want it.  Voila, you are entered to win.

For more chances:

There you are – 6 chances to win.  Just be sure to leave a SEPARATE COMMENT for each one you do…Good luck!

Contest is open until May 28 at 11:59pm EST.  Prize is courtesy of and shipped by KitchenAid.  US Addresses only.  Disclaimer – I was supplied a Food Processor of my own to review, but was not compensated for my post or review.  My thoughts are 100% my own.


FYI – The floral plates used in today’s post are the Amazonia Collection from Villeroy & Boch.  Aren’t they beautiful??


  1. Christine Schettig Sargent says:

    Repinned your Lemon Meringue Tarts (on Galaxy Tab (android) not able to repin directly from sites (yet)) follow you on pinterest (Cj / Livelaughlovecj ) liked and repinned :)

  2. Pinned! (can’t wait to try this recipe)

  3. Emily W says:

    I want it! :)

  4. i would love one of these for our new house!!

  5. i like kitchenaid on fbook!

  6. Christine Schettig Sargent says:

    Kitchen mishaps…..there have been several….
    Using Salt instead of sugar (like 1/2 cup worth) both are in bulk plastic containers in pantry (now both clearly labeled)
    First Thanksgiving: cooking turkey with giblets bag still in cavity (i didn’t know!!) Nothing says Happy thanksgiving like the smell of melting plastic and cooked vital organs ….pizza anyone?
    Homemade cornered, double batch, bee in kitchen (I’m allergic), flailing limbs SHOO! SHOO! huge bowl flying through air covering anything and everything in honey cornbread mixture… which incincidentally can turn into concrete if left to dry…anyplace you failed to clean it from…..

    Feel better now? ;)

  7. Becky W says:

    I am a Fan of KitchenAid on Facebook.

  8. I want it! Would make a great gift for my baking loving aunt!

  9. I like KA on FB

  10. Becky W says:

    I did Pin a photo from this post.

  11. Cynthia says:

    I WANT it! I really enjoy your blog.

  12. Deb Harris says:

    I want this food processor so much. After I got husband convinced that a food processor would make my life so much easier by showing him how much was done in them in recipes that called for using one & cooking shows. He saw how fast & easy it was. Got him convinced I would be very happy to get for my birthday in July. Then I showed him this one, quickly explained that yes it was expensive, but I wouldn’t need a mini one too this would do everything, I’d never need another. So when we can afford or better yet I’d love to win one. I have carpel tunnel syndrome, so dropping things happens all the time. Broke liquid measure cup yesterday, drop coffee cups & break all the time. My favorite 6 qt Pyrex mixing bowl- in cranberry. They don’t make anymore. Could go on & on. Not too smart mistake: making fish chowder. Usually use light cream then add milk to cut richness a little. One day thought milk & cream makes half & half, so used half & half & the whole large pot curdled. No chowder that night. Later read somewhere not to use half & half it always curdles. Live & learn

  13. I would love to win this food processor … I don’t have one right now so this would be fabulous!!

  14. Susan P. says:

    I would love to win this KitchenAid food processor!!

  15. Susan P. says:

    I follow KitchenAid on facebook!

  16. I follow KitchenAid on Twitter

  17. Deb Harris says:

    I follow Kitchen Aid on FB

  18. I’m a KitchenAid fan on FB

  19. I follow KA on Twitter

  20. Deb Harris says:

    I follow Kitchen Aid on twitter

  21. Deb Harris says:

    I pinn

  22. Vanessa Fletcher says:

    These look marvelous! I never attempt any recipe calling for a food processor because I do not have one. We actually received two as wedding presents 25 years ago but I was too inexperienced as a cook to know what the heck to do with them so eventually gave each away. I bet the Kitchen Aid Food Processor is tremendous and I’d love to win one! in your recipe, you say to pour the filling into the prepared crust, then allow it to cool roughly 10 minutes before adding to the cooled tart crusts (#8). Is that a typo?

  23. Vanessa Fletcher says:

    I once borrowed a slow cooker to make pork barbecue – but the temperature on the appliance was way too low and the pork shoulder basically spent the day in a lukewarm environment. I actually spent some time trying to thing of a way to salvage the pork to serve the crowd gathered at my house but realized I’d probably kill us all instead. Takeout fried chicken to the rescue!

  24. Deb Harris says:

    I pinned your free form Lemon Meringue Tart because Lemon Meringue pie is my favorite dessert ever. This sounds like a great version. (sorry about previous attempt to tell you I pinned-my iPhone has a mind of its own sometimes)

  25. I’m a fan of KA on FB :-)

  26. I am now following you in twitter.

  27. Julia Jessee says:

    I want this food processor,please!!!

  28. Julia Jessee says:

    Liking and following KA on Facebook!

  29. I want one!!! Pick me, pick me, pick me :o)

  30. Roxanne says:

    Fan on FB!

  31. Roxanne says:

    Have had many kitchen mishaps that is what makes a great cook! Trial and error!

  32. Carrie B says:

    Kitchen Mishap: carved and stacked a birthday cake that was suppose to be a baseball Jersey shape. Woke up in the am to find the top tier had slid off the bottom and split in half.
    Not my best Work!

  33. heather s says:

    I. Want. One. Pretty pretty please???

  34. melanie freisinger says:

    I want it!!! REally BaD! and I like kitchenaid on facebook!

  35. melanie freisinger says:

    I liked Kitchen Aid on facebook! (Just read the separate post request ;-)

  36. Yes, I want it. Any kitchen tools that would make my life much easier? Count me in. Your lemon meringue tart looks gorgeous. :)

    amy [at] utry [dot] it

  37. Following KitchenAid on Twitter

    amy [at] utry [dot] it

  38. I want it bad!

  39. I’m a Fan of KitchenAid on Facebook

    amy [at] utry [dot] it

  40. Follow KA on twitter @icywit

  41. Like KA on Facebook!

  42. I pinned a photo!

  43. Pinned this post onto my Pinterest “Giveawa” board:

    amy [at] utry [dot] it

  44. DROOL worthy! I wants!

  45. I follow kitchen aid on twitter! @rayshaviolet

  46. I’m trying to think of a kitchen mishap….nothing hysterical or over the top – I remember when I first started baking when I was very young – I think it was a brownie mix – I forgot to add the oil and they were the hardest things in the world – weapons they could be.

  47. stumbled this post

    amy [at] utry [dot] it

  48. I have too many kitchen mishaps….hm…where do I start? I can probably sit here all day to share. hahaha….but the worse days was that I baked 3 different things in a day, cakes and cookies and all 3 failed! Turned out, I was too tired and added the wrong amount of ingredients! So, I better get some rest before I bake next time! hahaha

    amy [at] utry [dot] it

  49. I want it (for my mom).

  50. Saladgoddess already following KitchenAid on Twitter.

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