Updated: August 12, 2012 6:11AM
It’s funny how instrumental it is to have such a fine summery recipe as lemon curd at our fingertips when it’s rarely on our tables.
It should be at our reach at nearly every meal, and in between meals, too. Think of it as a compulsory condiment, a requisite of sorts. A homemade cupboard staple, lemon curd should be as familiar to our eating habits as buttered toast at breakfast and gravy with our mashed potatoes at supper.
Why? Because lemon curd radiates that fresh summer flavor, most reminiscent of our favorite childhood recipes.
Sweet with just a whit of tartness, it’s like an ice cold glass of lemonade and a plate of buttery tea cookies stuffed into a quaint little jar. It’s easy to whip up, too — minimum ingredients with minimum fuss.
But perhaps its most desirable asset, which is a hidden surprise for most, is its resourcefulness.
Lemon curd is advantageous, conspiring with so many other foods to create perfect summery hybrids. Stuff it in doughnut holes or in between cake layers. Blend it into buttercream frosting for luscious yellow glory. Whisk a bit into a vinaigrette for a sweet salad dressing. On top of your morning biscuit, it is a refreshing change-up from the outmoded jam. It is a spreadable base for a fruit tart and for an ice cream recipe, too. It hides between shortbread rounds like a bashful child, but delivers a confident punch at first bite.
Preparing lemon curd is simple and if you’ve got the ingredients in your cupboard, the only purchase might be the lemons.
I like to make curds in larger batches because given their ingenuity in the kitchen, it always helps to keep an extra jar or two in the freezer. Or, if you’ve developed a habit of making lemon curd at home, it can also act as a thoughtful gift when batched into old honey jars and wrapped up with a pretty bright ribbon.
Although there is very little preparation, there is a lot of tasting. Since the tartness of lemons can be fickle — especially if you choose to use a sweeter lemon, like a Meyer lemon, sugar amounts have to be adjusted. Use your own sense of taste instead of relying on an indoctrinated recipe.
Be careful when preparing lemon curd because it does have the tendency to coagulate, due to the different cooking temperatures of the yolk and white of the eggs.
Beating all the ingredients together before cooking and keeping the curd at a low temperature on the stove should eliminate this risk, but if it does happen, use a strainer to expel any unwanted particles.
The outturn should be a lovely, ribbony lemon curd with a taste that can be worked into all of your favorite lemon recipes.
4 whole eggs plus 4 egg yolks
2 to 21/2 cups of sugar (use less if using Meyer lemons, use more if lemons are more tart)
11/3 cup lemon juice
Zest from two lemons
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pulse lemon zest and sugar in a food processor until fine. In bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar-zest mixture. Add eggs and egg yolks, one at a time. Add lemon juice and salt and mix until combined. Taste and add more sugar, if needed.
Pour into a large saucepan and while stirring constantly, cook over low heat until it reaches 170 degrees and is thick enough to just coat back of a spoon. Do not allow to boil.
Remove lemon curd from heat; stir in vanilla. If curd is grainy or has any coagulation from eggs, push through a strainer before pouring into containers. Allow to cool, then refrigerate until ready to use.
Source: Marisa Renwald