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Lemon Tassies


Easy to make and charming in appearance, these tiny tarts are an ideal dinner-party dessert. The name is derived from the Scottish word for a "small cup."

  • Yield: Makes 24
lemon tassies

Photography: Victor Schraeger

Source: Martha Stewart Living, January 2002


For the Candied Lemon Zest:

  • 2 lemons, well scrubbed
  • 1 cup sugar, plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 cup cool water

For the Crusts:

  • 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks, plus more for pans
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Pinch of salt

For the Filling:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. For candied lemon zest: Remove zest from lemons with a vegetable peeler, keeping pieces long. Remove white pith using a paring knife, and finely julienne using a very sharp knife. Place julienned zest in a small bowl; cover with boiling water. Let stand for 30 minutes; drain.

  2. Bring 1 cup sugar and the cool water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When sugar is completely dissolved, add julienned zest, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand overnight. Remove zest, and drain on wire rack. Roll in sugar. Dry on wire rack. Store zest in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with rack in upper third. Lightly butter a 24-cup mini-muffin pan; set aside. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flour and butter. Pulse until mixture is the consistency of fine crumbs. Add the sugar, egg yolk, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt. Process until evenly incorporated and smooth; do not overprocess.

  4. Divide the dough into quarters. Divide each quarter into 6 pieces. Shape into balls. Place each ball in a muffin cup; press down in the centers so that the dough fits the cups snugly. Set muffin pan on a baking sheet.

  5. Bake until lightly browned all over and slightly darker at the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer baking sheet with muffin pan to a wire rack to cool.

  6. Make the filling: In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla until completely smooth. Using a 1/4-ounce ice cream scoop, fill the cooled crusts. Bake until filling is set and just beginning to color at the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer muffin pan to a wire rack. Garnish with candied lemon peel. Let cool completely before serving. The tassies may be stored in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 3 days.

Reviews Add a comment

  • lnackihotmail
    18 SEP, 2015
    Delicous! Double the crust recipe for sure. It IS very crumbly when you mix it, I added a little bit of water to stick everything together. After that, it was fine. I pre-baked the crusts with no issue. I used a mini muffin tin and greased with an excess amount of butter. I pressed the crusts in very firmly and thin to allow for maximum amount of filling. After the pre-bake, I loosened each crust, they removed from the pan just fine in the end. Topped each tassie with a 1/4 of a fresh raspberry.
  • ess1
    23 APR, 2012
    can you freeze this recipe?
  • Juliacr
    7 OCT, 2011
    These tassies are amazing and well worth the effort. I followed Monica H's recipe for the correct filling-crust ratio (which was really just doubling the crust recipe) and I had the perfect amount of both. However, I wouldn't prebake the crusts. The recipe calls for 18-20 mins to bake them; mine were overdone at 15 min. Perhaps its just my oven, but I tried the next batch without prebaking the crusts and they were just right. Just keep it in mind...
  • Sleepykitties
    12 JUN, 2011
    These are delicious!The only issue is that the cookie/filling ratio seems off. I doubled the recipe to get 48 tassies and ended up w/ 24 cookie parts (the orig. yield) and 48 filling parts. If you are going to make this recipe & you want the orig. yield of 24: double the cookie part and leave the filling part as is. If you want 48: triple the cookie part and double the filling part.Don't let this deter you from trying this recipe - they are truly delicious.
  • OT1Kanobi
    19 FEB, 2011
    These were delightful! We changed the recipe, used strawberry cream cheese and had them for a baby shower-girl of course. Everyone raved. They are a bit time consuming but well worth it.
  • hannahlj
    16 JAN, 2011
    These are one of my favourites but the crust is a bit time consuming. It is worth it!
  • jukedog15
    26 AUG, 2009
    The "candied" zest strips go on top. The finely grated zest "not candied" go in the filling.
  • jimsonly
    20 AUG, 2009
    How come? I wrote a negative comment about this
  • gomomgo123
    6 JUL, 2009
    I made two batches of the lemon tassies tonight and neither one turned out right! I used lemon zest from the store and it tasted bitter. For this recipe do you use the candied lemon zest in the recipe as well or the store bought kind. Also it calls for three tablespoons of lemon zest. Is this right?
  • ericpkeaton
    13 JUN, 2009
    when baking these, they turned out perfectly. the only problem was that they were too small to hold the filling, and i was left with an almost-full bowl of the filling. i decided to make another batch of the crust, and this time i only split it into 12 parts - so they would fit into an regular-sized, 12 cup muffin pan. these held a lot more of the filling, and were very appropriately sized.