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Recipe “Friday”: Homemade Lemon Curd

Posted on: October 23, 2010

(Indeed, Recipe Friday became Saturday this week. Life happens sometimes, eh? But this week, I got to “meet”—well, come within 10 feet of, and listen to, Doc Willoughby of America’s Test Kitchen (and formerly Gourmet)! Way cool! And an interesting mix of foodies and test-kitchen-wannabe’s at the talk…)

Lemon curd. I remember looking deep into my grandmother’s cupboards and seeing the old, unopened jar, ingredient list full of unpronounceables. And when I tasted it, it was all right, but not the ambrosia one would expect from an unctuous lemon dessert sauce.

Earlier this year, I set out to make my own lemon curd with help from a few cookbooks. The fresh stuff (for use within a week!) only needs four ingredients: fresh lemon juice, eggs, sugar, and unsalted butter. That’s it!

But wait, you say. This is a healthy food blog. What’s so healthy about those ingredients? First of all, what’s the point of living if you don’t have something sinful every now and then? (And this stuff has so much flavor that you don’t need much.) Secondly, this sauce goes great slathered drizzled on fresh fruit as a dessert—there’s a great healthy finale for any meal! In fact, last night, I made it for some friends drizzled on chunks of honeycrisp apples, and the two different qualities of tartness were such a wonderful contrast!

Lemon Curd
adapted from Vegetarian Planet

4 eggs
1 c white sugar
2/3 c fresh lemon juice (use Meyer lemons if in season… trust me!!)
½ stick (1/4 c ) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

1. Whisk the eggs until smooth. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a small pot. (Thanks to foodie friend Mike for the strainer tip: it gets rid of any excess membrane from the outside of the yolk and makes the curd smooth like butta!) Add the cup of sugar to the pot and continue to whisk. Add the lemon juice and keep on whisking. Turn on the heat to medium. You haven’t stopped whisking, have you?

2. Keep cooking and whisking constantly for 5 minutes, or a little longer, until the mixture thickens considerably. Then, remove your pan from the heat, and whisk in the butter, one piece at a time, allowing each piece to melt.

3. Allow your curd to cool to room temperature (if you can stand it!!!) before serving. It’s great over fruit (berries in the summer, especially!) and super-rich but tasty with shortbread cookies. Store it in your fridge, and use it within a week.

I’m going to try mixing some in plain yogurt soon, maybe making a parfait with granola (everybody loves parfaits!), it would be great swirled into some homemade vanilla ice cream if I trust myself to break out the ice cream maker…

What are you going to do with your lemon curd, now that you know how easy it is to make? (Hey, I’m thinking of branching out and going for lime curd, cranberry curd, pomegranate curd… why not?)

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5 Responses to "Recipe “Friday”: Homemade Lemon Curd"

My favorite Summer Trifle uses Lemon Curd. This dessert by Tyler Florence has become a summer tradition at my house. However, I must admit I never made my own lemon curd, but there’s always next summer!

Ingredients
6 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
4 lemons, zested and juiced
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut in chunks
1 pint fresh strawberries, stemmed and halved lengthwise
1 pint fresh blueberries
1 pint fresh blackberries
2 cups sweetened whipped cream
1 prepared lemon pound cake, sliced (I use plain pound cake)
1/4 cup Limoncello or Grand Marnier liqueur (optional)
Fresh mint leaves, for garnish

Directions
To make the lemon curd: Bring a pot of water to a simmer over medium-low heat. Combine the egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, and zest in a metal or glass heat-resistant bowl and whisk until smooth. Set the bowl over the simmering water, without letting the bottom touch, and continue to whisk. Keep working-out that arm and whisk it vigorously for a good 10 minutes, until the curd has doubled in volume and is very thick and yellow. Don’t let it boil. Remove the bowl from heat and whisk in the butter, a couple of chunks at a time, until melted. Refrigerate until the custard is cold and firm.

To build the trifle: put the berries in a mixing bowl and toss them together so they are evenly distributed. Fold the whipped cream into the chilled lemon curd to lighten it up into a mousse. Line a glass trifle bowl with pieces of pound cake to fit. Drizzle or brush the cake with the Limoncello, spoon a layer of the lemon curd over the cake, and then a layer of mixed berries. Repeat the layers until the ingredients are used up, the last layer looks best if it’s the berries. Chill before serving. Garnish with fresh mint.

I like to make this dessert the day before, as it sits the flavors mingle.

Ah, trifle! That will be a great one next summer with fresh berries! (If you make your own curd, do strain the eggs first to make sure everything’s smooth… and as the post implies, fresh lemons and fresh curd makes a huge difference!!! At least *I* think so. 😉 )

We have a friend up here who makes his own Limoncello. It’s really potent. I’m not really the boozy type, though, so I might just do with some tangerine juice (or just a tbsp of booze in the juice)…

I absolutely love lemon curd, but have never attempted to make it. I grew up eating lemon curd on toast and it’s remained a comfort food for me. Can’t wait to try this recipe. Thanks!

Hi, Jodi! I’ve had this one on whole-grain toast (keeping up appearances of being healthy! 😉 ) and must say it’s awesome. It’s great in all forms, “off the spoon” included! Have fun with it!

[…] juice, and I also added about 1 tbsp lemon juice (too sweet, otherwise). Follow the rest of the lemon curd recipe […]

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