Monday, February 3, 2014

Lemon Curd

A few weeks ago Mom sent me a text telling me that she had baked herself some scones. To accompany the scones she had bought a jar of lemon curd. Her text informed me that the lemon curd paled in comparison to mine. My girlfriends and I browsed through a tea room while we were at the coast last week and the shop was selling homemade lemon curd for $10 a jar. Yikes! It's so easy to make and very inexpensive, too. Lemon curd was on my mind so I got busy one night after work and made a batch.

I make lemon curd periodically during the year but always for my Christmas tea. The combination of tart lemons with the sweetness of sugar is very addictive to me. I use it to serve with scones, as a filling for cakes and cookies, in mini tarts. I confess that I've been known to just grab a spoon and eat the curd from the bowl!  It's so good!
I invited Mom & my daughter to have tea and scones (and I sent Mom home with her own supply!) My three year old granddaughter was eating a bowl of ice cream as I was spooning the lemon curd into a bowl. She asked for a taste, liked it and wanted some on her ice cream. She loved it! We found a new use for lemon curd!
Lemon curd isn't difficult to make, just takes a little stirring and some patience. The recipe I use is from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. I've seen recipes that seem easier, even microwave versions. This recipe is so good, I figure why mess with success? Lemon curd will last about a week in the refrigerator but we always seem to  run out before then!

LEMON CURD (makes 2 cups)

8 large egg yolks
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces

Combine yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a heavy-bottom saucepan; whisk to combine. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (be sure to scrape the sides of the pan), until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, 8 to 10 minutes, and registers 160 on an instant-read thermometer.

Remove saucepan from heat.  Add salt and butter, one piece at a time, stirring until smooth.  Strain through a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 1 hour.

These lemon curd tarts are easy to make and quite impressive looking for such a quick dessert. Using a flower cookie cutter, I baked the pie crust in a mini muffin pan. Let the crusts cool, add some curd and a dollop of whipped cream. If you don't want to bother with pie dough you can put a dollop of curd in phyllo tart shells, which are found in the frozen food section.


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