Limoncello Cream Cheese Tartelettes

December 13, 2010

Did you know that food can teach us a little bit about ourselves? Really, it can. Think about your favourite flavour; sweet or savory. Now ask yourself why you like that particular taste - what is it about that flavour that keeps you coming back for more, and do those reasons co relate to who you are or what you're looking for? For example: I crave lemons + limes. They're airy, bright, and spontaneous. I'm controlled, precise and deliberate. So to me, they taste like happiness, because happiness for me is being able to let it all go...and to feel okay about doing it.
Maybe our taste buds act as invisible little guides, tastefully directing us through life by showing us what we need to improve upon in order to find balance and inner peace? Or maybe sometimes we just really need that dark chocolate bar because it's so damn good.

These boozy tartlets are light, free-spirited and sassy. If I were a dessert, this is what I would want to be. I'd be jealous of this dessert if I happened to be a straight-laced, tight crumb cake (which would probably be my confectionery alter ego). Lemon heads, if you're not yet familiar with the deity known as Limoncello, you're in for a pleasant surprise. It's an Italian liqueur that has a scrumptiously strong dose of fresh lemony goodness. When paired up with cream cheese and a short-crust pastry, it's sheer unadulterated bliss. If it's cold and blustery outside, these little bursts citrus will literally warm you up and make you feel like you're eating a bite of summer.
On a side note, I did not make this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe for apple-coconut family cake. I'm the only coconut lover and when I make anything with coconut I run the risk of having to eat it all on my own. If you would like the recipe, please visit Amber of Cobbler du Monde. And please don't forget to check out the other TWD bakers as well!

Limoncello Cream Cheese Tartelettes (adapted from Joy of Baking)

1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/3 cup of confectioners sugar, sifted
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits (I cut mine up and let it freeze overnight.)
Splash of ice water

5 ounces of cream cheese, softened to room temperature.
1/2 cup of granulated white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup of Limoncello (or just use fresh lemon juice=about 2 medium-size lemons)
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon)

Whipped Topping
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar

Spray or butter 4 5-inch tartlet pans (you may also make one large 9-inch tart using the same recipe amounts.) Set aside

Prepare the crust:Put the flour, sugar, and salt into a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Scatter the bits of frozen butter, and pulse until the pastry starts to come together on the blade and clumps and curds form. If after a few pulses, the dough is still too dry, splash in a few drops of ice water. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gather up any loose pieces. Form the dough into a large ball, then divide the ball into 4 equal pieces. Press each one into the prepared tartlet pans (be sure to cover bottoms and sides.) Using a fork, pierce the bottom of each tarlet a few times. Cover and freeze for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425F.

Remove the tartlets from the freezer and place them onto a large cookie sheet.Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the crust is light golden. Remove from the oven to cool while you prepare the filling. Reduce the oven to 350F.

Prepare the filling:In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar and beat on medium-high, until well combined. Add the eggs, one by one, beating well after each addition. Add the Limoncello (or lemon juice, if using) and zest. Beat until well blended and smooth.
Pour the filling into the semi-baked tartlet shells. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and place the tartlets on a cooling rack. Cool completely before adding the whipped cream.

Prepare the whipped topping:In a large bowl, beat the whipping cream and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. If needed, add more sugar. Pipe or spoon the topping onto each cool tartlet. Serve immediately after adding the topping.

Makes 4 5-inch Tartlets


  1. What a great dessert to be, I agree. Lovely job they are perfect.

  2. Just discovered your blog after searching for a raspberry rugelach recipe. Can't wait to come back often and bake up some of your wonderful looking recipes!

  3. Oh... look at these! The cutest and most delicious dessert ever! Great shots!

  4. Thank you, Jennifurla and Renata. :)

    Hi, Catherine
    Thanks for visiting. If you decide to try the rugelach recipe, I don't think you will be disappointed. Dorie's is one of the best out there.

  5. Your pastry looks so light and perfectly cooked. You know what I said to myself when I saw this on my blog dashboard? "Oh my yummy..."

  6. These look perfectly summery and can make me forget about the freezing rain and snow currently coating my windows. That's more than enough, but I love lemon too.
    Picturing you as a straight-laced pound cake makes me laugh. I'd probably be just the opposite: something messy that looks nice for a minute, then flops all over the plate. Tiramisu?

  7. These look as if they could float away. They are lovely tarts.

  8. I'll have to look for limoncello. Your tartlets look wonderful. And yes, I know the danger of being the only one in the house who likes the dessert. Best avoided!

  9. This looks absolutely beautiful, Valerie. And it takes me back several years ago when I tried to make my own limoncello. Sweet and potent!

  10. What a beautiful piece of writing: my taste buds are hardly "tastefully directing [me] through life...", but instead...savagely devouring flavours and textures without prejudice... just kidding... I really enjoyed your lead in to the recipe and love a "sassy tart"! I was so surprised to find cream cheese in the filling. That threw me as it is rare in a lemon tart. I have a great bottle of Limoncello from by last trip to Italy, so - this is now on "the list"!
    Thank you!

  11. You had me at the name!!!!!

    I really wish I had one of these sitting in the fridge!!

  12. I've always been curious about limoncello, those tarts look scrumptious.

    Love your food 'philosophy' I don't think I have one, except that I really LOVE chocolate :)

  13. I will follow my little guides if they lead me to things that look this good. Especially since I'm allowing myself more sugar during the month of December. Yeah!
    Oh, and hmm...being willing to jump on the Bering Sea to be a cook sounds pretty spontaneous to me:)

  14. I adore Limoncello desserts, and there's no doubt that I will make these adorable and boozy tarts!! Thanks so much for the recipe! :) Cheers! sheila

  15. These look fabulous. I have not had good luck with the site you used on recipes in the past. But I can tell you by the way these look and your proven creations to be perfection, I will be giving this a go this week. We love the lemoncello, i think you aced this one for sure!
    HAPPY NEW 2011 YEAR!!!


Thanks for visiting, and for taking the time to read through my ramblings!
If you have a recipe comment or question, I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Baking!
♥ Valerie


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