Recipe: Lemon Cookie Tarts

Christmas time is one of my favorite times of year. I love the gift giving, the magic in children’s eyes, Christmas trees—all of it. Even as a kid, it wasn’t always about Santa brining gifts, or finally unwrapping that giant package from my parents under the tree. No, it was about the smells. To this day, a ham roasting in the oven brings me back to Christmas night when my family always had ham biscuits with yellow mustard—nothing fancy, just yellow mustard. Or the meatballs that had cooked all day in a random mixture of grape jelly, Pepsi cola, and beef broth. The smell would permeate throughout the house starting at about 3 p.m.


To this day, these smells bring me right back to being 9 years old in the bottom level of our split-level house in Chesterfield VA, a suburb of Richmond. And still, as amazing as those smells are, nothing brings me back to being a kid more than my Grandmother (Nana) and her “lemon things”.

Chef Plum is the host of Edible on the Road. Watch him here.

As a kid I had no idea what they were. They were small, about the size of a half dollar, and like a mini muffin in texture. Bright yellow and coated with the most amazing glaze, they were so moist and tart but with an almost overpowering sweetness. Every year Nana would make these, only at Christmas time, and as far as I was concerned only for me.

Was it a tart? Was it a muffin? I had no idea. All I knew was that I could eat a hundred of them.

She would show up at the Plummer family annual Christmas night party, and bring us a very large pyrex container full of them, carefully arranged on wax paper so they wouldn’t crush one another. The glaze would stick a little to the wax paper so they would make noise every time you would take one out to eat. I was sure she did this as more of a security system so my Mom would hear me sneaking them out when no one was looking.

Nana died too many years before my love of cooking really took hold of me, and I never got to ask her how to make those “Lemon Things”, but I came up with my own version, not quite the same but still delicious. I hope Nana approves. Merry Christmas!

Lemon Cookie Tarts


Ingredients (for the cookie tarts):

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 cups white flour
  • 2 tablespoons lemon curd
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Grated zest of 1 1/2 lemons
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Ingredients (for the citrus glaze):

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Juice of half orange
  • 2 teaspoons lemon curd
  • Zest of both 1 lemon and half orange
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease muffin tins, set aside.
  3. In a bowl, cream together butter, sugar and eggs.
  4. Add in flour, milk, lemon zest, curd, salt and baking powder. Mix well. Spoon batter into the greased mini muffin tins, filling them 3/4 full.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, combine the lemon juice and sugar in a bowl. When muffins are baked, prick the tops with a fork, and roll mini muffin in the glaze!

Watch Chef Plum make his Lemon Cookie Tarts here.