Friday, April 6, 2012

Mini Shortbread Fruit Tarts

I am SO behind with blog posts! I can't believe Easter in only a few days away. This recipe will definitely be a cute addition to your Easter meal or for Mother's Day!

My oldest son recently studied Medieval times in his fourth grade class. At the end of this unit the entire fourth grade got together to have a HUGE Medieval feast. It was awesome. Parents were organized to make and bring Medieval style foods for the feast. There was SO much great food, it was awesome. The feast was a huge success and I am giving big props to Mrs. Allen (one of the fourth grade teachers) for organizing rock!
So, one of the courses I made for the feast was chicken wings. I decided to make my friend Andrea's fabulous recipe for maple chicken wings (recipe found here), and they were a big hit!
I also made some wonderful mini shortbread fruit tarts for the dessert course. They were sooooo good! The shortbread shell was buttery and slightly sweet, the lemon no-bake cheesecake style filling was so creamy and perfect, and the fresh fruit on top tied everything together. Major success.
I ended up making a TON of these little tarts because our church's annual Ladies Tea was the following day after the Medieval feast. All the ladies at the tea loved the little tarts and many asked for the recipe. I love it when recipes are a hit!

Mini Shortbread Fruit Tarts
(recipe adapted from, and laurenslatest

For the Shortbread Tarts:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 T cornstarch (or 6 T more all-purpose flour)
1/4 tsp salt

For the cream cheese filling*:

1- 8 oz package full fat cream cheese, softened
1- 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
Zest of one lemon (about a full teaspoon)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large or 3 small lemons)
1 tsp vanilla
Fresh raspberries, blueberries, strawberries or other cut up fruit
* For great alternative filling for these tarts, especially for younger kids, combine a package of vanilla instant pudding with 1 1/2 cups of milk, set aside. Whip 1/2 cup of heavy cream with 1/2 tsp vanilla extract in a separate bowl, until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the thickened pudding. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator until ready to use--up to a few
days in advance.

For the cream cheese filling:
In the bowl of an electric mixer (hand mixer is fine), or food processor, beat the cream cheese until creamy and smooth. Add the condensed milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla, and mix until smooth. Transfer the filling to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours so the filling will thicken and not be as runny. This filling can actually be made a few days, or up to a week in advance, as long as it's kept sealed and cold.

For the shortbread tarts:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and confectioners' sugar until smooth, and then add the vanilla, mixing well.
Add the flour, cornstarch (or extra flour) and salt. Mix until the dough is just incorporated and forms a soft dough (don't over mix). Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 15 minutes or so, until the dough is firm enough to easily roll into balls.

When the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Spray 36 mini muffin tin cups with non-stick baking spray.
Take a scant 1 tablespoon of shortbread dough and roll into a ball (doesn't have to be perfect) and place it in the prepared muffin pan. Gently press the dough with your fingertips onto the bottom and up the sides of the muffin cup. Repeat this for all of the cups (you should get 30-36 shells).
Once all the tarts are made, cover the muffin tins with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes so the shortbread can become firm.

Remove the plastic wrap from the tarts and bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown. About half way through the cooking time, remove the pan(s) from the oven and gently prick each tart with the tines of a fork to help limit the amount the shortbread puffs up.
When the tarts are done, remove from the oven onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely before trying to remove the tarts from the pan.
Once cool, a good trick to getting the tarts out of the pan, is to spin each one to loosen and then gently lift them out. Shortbread is very fragile, so be sure to have a very gentle hand!

When ready to serve (or up to a couple hours in advance prior to serving), pipe or spoon filling into each tart. Then top each tart with fresh berries or other cut up fruit. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Enjoy!

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