These little muffin pan pies have sweet French pastry dough crusts filled with tangy lemon pie filling. Each pie is topped with a generous swirl of fluffy marshmallow and then toasted until golden brown.
Make the lemon filling: Combine the sugar, cornstarch and egg yolks in a stainless steel (or nonreactive) saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until the mixture is smooth and the sugar dissolves (about 2 minutes). Add the lemon zest and lemon juice and continue to cook, whisking constantly until the mixture is thick like pudding, about 5-7 minutes. Add food color, if using. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl. Whisk in the butter one cube at a time, until smooth. Stir occasionally until the mixture is cool, or refrigerate (still stirring occasionally). You may also place the bowl over a larger bowl filled with ice to speed cooling.
Make the crust: Add the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest to the bowl of an electric food processor. Pulse twice to mix. Add the cold butter on top of the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles corn meal. Make a well in the flour on one side of the bowl and add the egg. Pulse in long bursts until the mixture starts to clump. Add 1 tablespoon ice water and pulse until mixture forms a ball to one side of the bowl. Add additional water 1 tablespoon at a time if mixture is still dry and won’t form a ball. Remove the pastry to a lightly floured surface and form into a ball; flatten to a disk. Cover with plastic wrap and let the pastry rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Place the chilled dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out twelve 4 1/2-inch rounds of dough using a cookie cutter. Place a round into the cavity of each cup of a nonstick muffin tin. Use your fingers to press the dough flat against the bottom corners of the pan, and also up the walls of the cavities. (A shot glass with a flat bottom is a good tamping tool for the crust bottoms.) Freeze the dough in the pan for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Remove pan from freezer. Fit a cupcake liner on top of each crust and fill with pie weights (dried rice works well!). Bake for 20 minutes. Carefully remove cupcake liners with the pie weights from each crust. Bake for an additional 15-17 minutes, or until the crusts are golden brown. Let crusts cool in the pans for 5-7 minutes, or until they are firm enough to lift from the pan. Place on wire cooling racks to cool completely. When the cups are cool, spoon or pipe the lemon filling into each cup. Refrigerate the cups while you prepare the marshmallow topping.
Make the marshmallow topping: Sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 cup of the cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment.
Combine the sugar, corn syrup and the remaining 1/4 cup of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until the mixture reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat. With the mixer running on low speed, gradually pour the syrup down the side of the mixer bowl into the gelatin mixture. When all the syrup is added, increase to high speed and beat for 6 minutes, until the mixture is thick and opaque. Beat in vanilla extract. Immediately transfer the mixture to a piping bag and pipe the marshmallow on top of each pie. Alternatively you may spoon the mixture on top of the pies.
Lightly brown the marshmallow with a kitchen torch, or under a well-preheated broiler in the oven (watching very carefully!).
Add decors: Sprinkle rose petals over marshmallow while it is still sticky. Add gold leaf with kitchen-dedicated tweezers. Zest ribbons of lemon peel and garnish with the peel just before serving so it is fresh and fragrant.
The lemon filling can be made up to three days ahead and stored in the refrigerator. You may also shortcut this recipe by purchasing ready-made lemon curd. You’ll need about 24 ounces to fill the crust cups.
Keyword lemon pie filling, marshmallow topping, pate sucree