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Poppyseed–Lemon Hand Tarts

Miki Duisterhof

Yield: Yields 12 hand tarts

The crust for these tarts is a sweet, cookie-like dough laced with poppyseeds. Even in small
amounts, poppyseeds are pretty, and they add a lovely, nubby texture to the baked crust. The creamy filling, balanced with tart lemon curd, is reminiscent of Key lime pie.

This recipe is excerpted from Mini Treats & Hand-Held Sweets. Read our review.


For the dough

  • 16 Tbs. (8 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 yolks from large eggs
  • 1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (13-1/2 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (3-1/2 oz.) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 2 Tbs. poppyseeds

For the filling

  • 3 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz.) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 yolk from large egg
  • 3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of table salt
  • 3/4 cup lemon curd, homemade or store-bought

For assembly

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. water


Make the dough

  • Cut the butter in half lengthwise, cut each half lengthwise again, and then cut each strip into 8 pieces. Pile the butter onto a plate and slide it into the freezer until ready to use. Measure the water in a 1-cup glass measure or small bowl; add the yolks and vanilla. Using a table fork, mix until well blended and keep in the fridge until ready to use.
  • Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse until well blended. Add the cold butter pieces and pulse to cut the butter into the flour mixture until the pieces are pea-sized, about 1 minute. Pour the egg-water mixture over the flour mixture and pulse until the dough forms moist, small clumps.
  • Dump the dough onto the counter and sprinkle evenly with the poppyseeds. Knead a few times until the dough is evenly moist and holds together. Divide the dough into two pieces (they don’t need to be exactly even), shape each into a flat disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours.

Make the filling

  • Put the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl. Using a whisk or a hand-held mixer, mix until well blended and smooth. Add the yolk, vanilla, and salt and whisk until just blended. Cover and set aside.

Assemble and bake

  • Line two cookie sheets with parchment or nonstick liners. Put the egg and water in a small bowl and, using a fork, mix until well blended.
  • Working with one piece of dough at a time, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it’s about 3/16-inch thick. Using a 4-inch round cookie cutter with a scalloped edge, cut out rounds. Gather the scraps, reroll, and cut more rounds. Do the same with the other piece of dough. You should have 24 rounds total (12 bottoms and 12 tops). Arrange 6 rounds on each cookie sheet.
  • Spoon 2 tsp. of the cream cheese filling onto the center of each of the 12 rounds on the cookie sheets. Using an offset spatula, spread in an even layer, leaving a 1/2-inch border of dough. Spoon 1 Tbs. of the lemon curd onto the center (no need to spread). Using a small pastry brush, brush the edges with egg wash. Lay the remaining rounds on top, pressing firmly on the edges to seal.
  • Lightly brush the tops with egg wash. Using the tip of a small sharp knife, cut a small X into the center of the top crusts to let steam escape. Slide the cookie sheets into the fridge while the oven heats up.
  • Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Bake, one sheet at a time, until the tarts are golden brown, 31 to 33 minutes. Move the sheet to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the hand tarts from the sheet, set them on a wire rack, and let cool completely.

Make Ahead Tips

The hand tarts are best when served the same day they’re baked, but the tarts can be assembled, covered in plastic, and stowed in the refrigerator for up to 1 day before baking.

The dough can also be made ahead and stowed in the refrigerator for up to 2 days frozen for up to 1 month.

Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before rolling.


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