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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:91]

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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.

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