Lemon Curd is a thick, soft and
velvety cream that has a
yet sweet citrus flavor. Traditionally it was used as a spread for scones but today
it is used as a filling for tarts, pies, and cakes.
What I like
about Lemon Curd
is that it does not use exotic ingredients; just eggs, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and
unsalted butter. It is similar to a lemon filling or custard in that it is cooked on the stove
but yet it does not contain a thickener such as cornstarch (corn flour).
We are going
to cook the curd in a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water
(a double boiler). This method does take a little longer, but it helps prevent the eggs from
curdling which gives the curd all those annoying little specks of cooked egg. Just make sure that the water in
the bottom saucepan is 'simmering' which is defined as the point just short of a boil, that is,
when bubbles start to appear. Oftentimes if you find the lemon curd is not
thickening fast enough, all you need to do is increase the temperature of the
simmering water. Once the lemon curd has become nice and thick (like
hollandaise), remove it from the heat and strain to remove any lumps that may have
formed. Then stir in the butter and lemon zest and you're done. Cover immediately
with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate. You will find
that the lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools. It will keep
in the refrigerator for about a week. If you want to make the lemon curd lighter
in texture and flavor, you can fold in a little whipped cream once the curd has
been thoroughly chilled.
Now, lemon curd
has to be made with fresh lemons. Do not use the imitation lemon juice that
comes in a bottle. When choosing lemons look for ones that are fragrant with
brightly colored oily yellow skins. The best ones are firm, plump, and heavy for
their size. Don't buy lemons that have blemishes, soft spots, or are hard and
wrinkled. Lemons consist of a yellow outer rind (skin) that can be of varying
thickness and graininess, and can have either a bumpy or a smooth texture. This
outer skin is where most of the lemon's wonderful tangy flavor is
located. Before removing the outer rind (zest) make sure you wash the lemon
thoroughly (soap and water is best). When removing the zest do not remove the
white membrane (pith) that is underneath as it is very bitter tasting. Once you
have removed the outer rind, inside the lemon are small vessels called 'pulp
vesicles' which contain the pleasantly acidic lemon juice and seeds. Squeezing
the lemon by hand or with a lemon squeezer or reamer releases this clear tart
Lemon Curd: In a stainless steel bowl placed over a
saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice
until blended. Cook, stirring constantly (to prevent it from
curdling), until the mixture becomes thick (like sour cream or a hollandaise sauce)
(160 degrees F or 71 degrees C). This will take approximately 10 minutes. Remove from
heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Cut the butter
into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted. Add the
lemon zest and let cool. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools.
Cover immediately (so a skin doesn't form) and refrigerate for up to a week.
Makes 1 1/2 cups (360 ml).
Note: If you want a lighter lemon curd whip 1/2 cup (120 ml) of
heavy whipping cream and fold into the lemon curd.
Note: Room temperature
lemons provide more juice. After squeezing, strain the juice to remove any
pulp. Zest is the yellow, sweet-flavored outer rind of the lemon. A zester or
fine grater can be used to remove the rind. Cold lemons are much easier to
grate. Grate lemons just before using as the zest will lose moisture if it sits
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