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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Lemon Curd

The first time I tasted Lemon Curd was when I lived Bahrain and a British neighbor gave me some she had made. I've been a fan ever since, although I often purchased it after that first tasting. Since finding this recipe, I eat it only when I can make it. One must become comfortable with tempering eggs for a custard because that is what curd is; although it is flavored with fruit juice rather than cream or milk.

Lemon Curd can be used as a spread on bread, scones, or crumpets (if you can find them). It makes a lovely topping for cake, ice cream, or cheesecake.


Lemon Curd


1/3 c lemon juice, from 2 lemons
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 c sugar
2 T unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
1 T heavy cream
1/4 teas vanilla extract
pinch table salt

Heat lemon juice in small nonreactive saucepan over medium heat until hot but not boiling. In the meantime, whisk eggs and yolk in medium nonreactive bowl; gradually whisk in sugar. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle hot lemon juice into the eggs, then return mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heat resistant spatula until mixture registers 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer and is thick enough to cling to a spoon. When the spoon or spatula leaves a clear trail (which quickly disappears) in the bottom of the saucepan, the curd is ready. If you leave it on the heat any longer, the spatula will leave a wide, clear trail as the curd becomes thick and pasty. (For good photos of what to look for go to and look at the photos at the end of the recipe.)

Immediately remove the pan from heat and stir in the cold butter until incorporated; stir in cream, vanilla, and salt, then pour cur through a fine-mesh strainer into a small nonreactive container. Cover the surface of the curd directly with plastic wrap; refrigerate until needed. After the curd has cooled you may remove the plastic and cover with the lid of the container.


This recipe can be easily doubled, which is what I usually do.

At higher altitudes water boils at a lower temperature than at sea level. In candy making one lowers the target temperature to correspond with the temperature difference; for example, at my altitude, I subtract 10 degrees. I've thought it might be the same in this recipe, but I have found that at 160 F, the curd is not sufficiently thickened.  However, it gets a bit too thick if I let it cook to 170 F. Cooking to 165 F results in the best texture. Those of you at a similar elevation (4900 feet) may want to do the same. It's best, though, to use the photos at Cook's Illustrated as a guide. 


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