Monday, May 18, 2015

Creamy Easy Lemon Curd



    Lemon curd is a delight!  It is a creamy, tangy, sweet, custard-like topping or spread. It can be used in tarts or pies, on cakes or scones, with fruit, or just eaten up by itself!!



          

       As I am writing this I am spooning up the last remnants of a batch I recently made for my daughter’s bridal Tea. This batch was simply perfection. But I must confess, I have made many batches that were indeed less than perfect. I want to share with you ( and to remind myself as well) what I did this time that seemed to work so well in creating silky, sweet-tart, creamy lemon goodness!

       I have most often used lemon curd recipes that I found from Ina Garten and more recently one from Alton Brown . Both of these are on foodnetwork.com. and I look to both of them often when I need a recipe!  The recipes each has for lemon curd are rather different from each other.

      Ina Garten’s recipe found on  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/lemon-curd-recipe.html  makes a wonderful light, tart curd that has a nice body and is fairly easy to make. She begins with processing lemon zest into sugar and then transferring this to a mixing bowl and creaming with butter before adding whole eggs then lemon juice. She then cooks this all up in a saucepan over low heat.

       Alton Brown whisks egg yolks and sugar over a double boiler then adding juice and zest and finally removing from heat and adding cut up butter. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/lemon-curd-recipe.html

        I have had pretty good luck with Ina Garten’s recipe and it often turns out perfect but there have been times that some of the egg white cooked into bits that ruined the smooth texture. However, I think I like the method of creaming the butter and sugar and then adding eggs and lemon before cooking it in a pan rather than over boiling water. I think it comes out creamier and is less inclined to separate. Ina’s recipe is easy to make but I wanted to try some other options.

        I like how Alton Brown’s recipe uses egg yolks. So I wanted to try Ina’s recipe with all yolks or 4 yolks and 1 whole egg. I also wanted to strain the curd after it was done because as fine as I get the lemon zest, it still added a bit of graininess to the finished texture and I wanted the curd to be velvety smooth.

        So here is my latest recipe for super creamy, not too tart lemon curd born from the blending of the lemon curd recipes from two of my favorite chefs.

         While searching for how all yolks or all whole eggs effects lemon curd recipes, I came across this article just now and it has some good information in it about making a fool-proof lemon curd-- http://www.finecooking.com/articles/foolproof-lemon-curd-method.aspx

Check it out!!

       It says that eggs whites cook at a lower temperature and so are more prone to coagulation. This is the science behind using all yolks and some people also think that the flavor is better with yolks. I also like to use yolks because I can then have the whites to make something else that can go along with lemon curd like meringue or angel food cake!

Creamy Easy Lemon Curd

About 3 large lemons (or 4 smaller ones)
1½ cups sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
5 large egg yolks
½ cup lemon juice
pinch of salt

Zest the lemons.  I like to use a fine plane grater or a small zester and grate just the yellow outer peel, not the white pith. If the pieces of zest are too large you may chop with a knife. I large food processing bowl add sugar and lemon zest and pulse until well blended.

Pour this lemon sugar into the bowl of a mixer and add butter. Cream together until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time and mix well. Add salt and lemon juice and beat until everything is well mixed. It may look grainy or even curly but it is okay.

Pour into a saucepan over low heat and cook while stirring often until lemon mixture reaches around 170 degrees using a candy thermometer or just below a simmer. The curd should be thickening, creamy and shiny smooth.  This will take around 20 minutes. Remove from heat .

Place a sieve over a glass bowl; the sieve does not have to be too fine. Press lemon curd through the sieve. If you don’t need it to be too creamy you could skip this step.

Store covered in refrigerator for up to a week or it can be frozen for a month or two.



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