Saturday, July 15, 2017

Almost Foolproof Lemon Curd

Tangy, sweet and decadent, this recipe is almost impossible to screw up!

It seems like no matter where you are, there is always a place for lemon on the  menu. Lemons have a particular ability to lighten up even the recipes that should be cloying - the Alfredos, the cheesecakes, the puddings and the compound butters. Nowhere, it seems, does lemon shine more than the sweet kitchen, since precious few menu items are hindered by the zesty, bright kiss of citrus.

Almost Completely Fool-Proof Lemon Curd

While lemon can be added to desserts simply for sourness (the juice) or as an accent, I love when the citrus gets a real chance to shine. Whenever I need a simple, to-the-point lemon accent on the plate, I almost always go for lemon curd. It's hard to argue with a silky, lick-the-plate sauce like it, rich with butter and egg yolks and a sunny bright as a summer's day. However, for the beginning cook, curds are a little nerve wracking - after all, they are essentially an unbuffered custard of tempered eggs and melted butter.

As I grew and learned as a cook I saw my fair share of lemony scrambled eggs, but within the past year or so I discovered a technique that almost guarantees success. By beating butter, sugar and yolks off the heat first, you give the egg proteins a little "pre cook" (sugar coagulates egg protein) and the butter protects everything from the heat of the pot. Because of this butter "parka", you can actually do the whole cooking process on the stovetop without fear as well - almost unheard of when I was in pastry school. The whole eggs also add a little bit of protection, the whites offering some extra water as a barrier. While the whole mixture takes a few minutes to cook to perfection on the stove, it is 100% worth it - and it stores well in a tightly lidded jar too, should you have leftovers!

Almost Foolproof Lemon Curd
Makes ~1 3/4 cups, 28 (1 tbsp) servings
adapted from Fine Cooking
4.5 oz unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 ½ cups sugar
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. grated lemon zest (or more, to taste)
  1. In a large heavy bottomed pot, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light.
  2. Slowly add the eggs and yolks, beating to thoroughly combine.
  3. Add the lemon juice and beat well. The mixture will look curdled, but it will smooth out as it cooks.
  4. Cook the mixture over low heat, stirring with a spatula, until it looks smooth (the curdled appearance disappears as the butter in the mixture melts).
  5. Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. Don't let the mixture boil. It should leave a path on the back of a spoon and will read 170°F on a thermometer.
  6. Remove the curd from the heat and stir in the lemon zest.
  7. Transfer the curd to a bowl. Press plastic wrap on the surface of the lemon curd to keep a skin from forming and chill the curd in the refrigerator.
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 88.7

  • Total Fat: 4.7 g
  • Cholesterol: 49.6 mg
  • Sodium: 9.0 mg
  • Total Carbs: 11.4 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 0.0 g
  • Protein: 1.0 g

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