Meyer Lemon Pielets with Brown Butter Press-In Cookie Crust

I have my own Meyer lemon tree but I did have to purchase the lemons for this special treat- this year anyway. My tree is very sparse at the moment- and not that happy. 😦 Hopefully it will have many lemons sometime in the future! Anyway, I love individual desserts. These were silky, creamy and delicious.

This recipe was adapted from The Book on Pie: Everything You Need to Know to Bake Perfect Pies by Erin Jeanne McDowell. Such a beautiful and informational book. The lemon zest and juice can be replaced with Key lime zest and juice for a lime version. Alternate press-in cookie crust variations are included below as well. Very nice.

Yield: 12 mini pies

For the Brown Butter Press-In Cookie Crust:

  • 113g / 4 oz / 8 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 50 g / 1/4 cup / 4 T granulated sugar
  • 21 g / 1 large egg yolk
  • 5 g / 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 210 g / 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 g / 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 15 g / 1 T water

For the Pielets:

  • 1 recipe Brown Butter Press-In Cookie Crust (ingredients above)
  • 99g / 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • grated zest of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 288g / 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 60g / 1/4 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
  • 2g / 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1g / 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • lightly sweetened freshly whipped cream, for serving, optional
  • Meyer lemon zest, for garnish, optional

To Make the Crusts:

  1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter begins to simmer and foam, the milk solids turn brown, and the butter smells toasty, about 10 minutes.
  3. Cool the butter to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the cooled brown butter and sugar on medium-low speed until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix on medium speed to combine. Scrape the bowl well.
  6. Add the flour and salt and mix on low-speed until fully incorporated, 45 seconds to 1 minute.
  7. Add the water and mix just until the dough is smooth, about 1 minute more.
  8. Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C with a rack in the center.
  9. Grease the cavities of a muffin pan with nonstick spray.
  10. Divide the dough into 12 even rations in each cavity. (I used cookie scoops of various sizes.)
  11. Use your fingers to press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of each cavity.
  12. Use a small fork or tip of a paring knife to dock the dough all over.
  13. Chill in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes.
  14. Bake the crusts until they are lightly golden at the edges and appear set all over, 14 to 18 minutes. If the dough puffs up during baking, prick it with a fork when you remove the crusts from the oven so it lies flat again.
  15. Cool crusts completely. Then, use an offset spatula to gently unfold the cooled crusts onto a baking sheet. They should release easily. (I found that rotating them helped release them from the pan- the top edges of my crusts did crumble a bit though- still delicious.)

To Make the Filling and Serve:

  1. In a small pot, rub the sugar and the lemon zest together to combine.
  2. Add the cream and heat over medium-low heat, whisking, to dissolve the sugar. Do NOT let the cream come to a boil.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a large container with a pour spout and whisk in the lime juice, vanilla, and salt.
  4. Carefully pour the custard into the cooled crusts, filling each one just over 3/4 full.
  5. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the filling is set, at least 2 hours (or up to 24 hours). Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
  6. Top with lightly sweetened whipped cream and garnish with additional zest, if desired, and serve.

Notes:

  • The pielets can be made up to 24 hours ahead and kept refrigerated in an airtight container.
  • Any leftover filling can be chilled in a ramekin for a baker’s treat. 🙂

Alternate Press-In Crusts:

To Make an Oatmeal Press-In Cookie Crust: Replace the brown butter with room temperature butter. Replace the granulated sugar with 53 g / 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar. Replace 30 g / 1/4 cup of the flour with 74 g / 3/4 cup rolled oats.

To Make a Coconut Press-In Cookie Crust: Replace the brown butter with room temperature butter. Replace the granulated sugar with 53 g / 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar. Add 50 g / 2/3 cup toasted unsweetened shredded coconut with the flour.

Nectarine & Blueberry Tart

I especially loved this beautiful tart because in addition to being delicious, it is made with a flaky and buttery press-in crust and a cheesecake-like no-bake filling. Nice shortcuts! I topped it with my favorite summer fruit- white nectarines. The original recipe uses peaches which would also be fabulous.

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. The chilled temperature and brightness from lemon zest made it very refreshing.

Yield: One 9 or 10-inch tart, about 8 to 10 servings

  • 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F, preferably on convection.
  2. Beat butter with confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Reduce speed to medium-low; add flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt and beat until just combined and crumbly (do not overmix).
  4. Press evenly into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch square tart pan or a 9- or 10-inch round tart pan, with a removable bottom.
  5. Dock bottom at 1-inch intervals with the tines of a fork. Freeze 15 minutes.
  6. Place on rimmed baking sheet or pizza tin, and bake until golden brown and set, 23 to 33 minutes. Let cool completely. (Crust can be kept at room temperature, wrapped in plastic, for up to 3 days.)
  7. Beat together cream cheese, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon juice, and 1/4 cup granulated sugar on medium-high speed until creamy.
  8. With mixer running, slowly add cream and beat until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. (You should have about 2 cups.)
  9. Spread mixture into crust; refrigerate 1 to 2 hours.
  10. Meanwhile, using a vegetable peeler, peel peaches/nectarines, if desired; cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. (I left the peels intact.)
  11. Transfer to a bowl and stir in berries and remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  12. Just before serving, spoon macerated fruit over tart and drizzle some of juice from bowl over it. (I used all of the juice!)
  13. Sprinkle with mint, if desired, and serve.

Vanilla Poached Pears

This is an elegant and light dessert for a special occasion. Years ago, we were served this dish at a neighbor’s dinner party and my husband and I made it quite often for a few years. We loved it. I made this updated version to serve my family on Thanksgiving Eve this year. I thought that it was a perfect dessert for the evening before a day of indulgence. An added bonus was that the pears could be poached ahead of time and stored in the poaching liquid.

This recipe was adapted from Alton Brown via Food Network.com. I poached the pears cut in half rather than whole, and, as my neighbors did when they served this dish, added freshly whipped cream and crushed amaretti cookies as toppings. Lovely.

Yield: 8 servings
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle white wine, Riesling or Viognier (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 3/4 cup
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 5 firm Bartlett, Anjou or Bosc pears, peeled, halved, and cored (preferably using a melon baller)
  • freshly whipped heavy cream, for serving
  • crushed amaretti cookies, for serving
  1. Place the white wine, water, sugar and vanilla bean and pulp into a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. (I used an enameled cast iron pan with a glass lid.)
  2. Peel, halve, and core the pears.
  3. Decrease the heat to medium low and place the pears into the liquid (cut side up), cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Turn the pears cut side down and continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until the pears are tender but not falling apart. Maintain a gentle simmer.
  5. Remove the pears to a serving dish and place in the refrigerator.
  6. Remove the vanilla bean from the saucepan, increase the heat to high and reduce the syrup to approximately 1 cup of liquid, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Do not allow the syrup to turn brown.
  7. Place the syrup in a heatproof container and place in the refrigerator until cool, approximately 1 hour.
  8. Remove the pears from the refrigerator, spoon the sauce over the pears. At this point, the pears can be stored overnight.
  9. Place a pear half in a bowl and drizzle with sauce, top with a dollop of freshly whipped cream, and sprinkle with crushed amaretti cookies. Serve.

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