Sunday, July 20, 2014

Lemon Curd

This is one of the ideas in the ways to use up extra egg yolks post.  After my first test batch of macarons, I had one egg yolk to kill, and decided to make a small batch of lemon curd.  It turned out to be just the right amount to pass around a table for one meal, and I don't know why most recipes make up to a pint.  Maybe because it takes a lot of attention, and you might as well make a lot while you're at it.

You may notice from the ingredients and method that this recipe is a close cousin to hollandaise.  It's the sweet version that tastes more like lemon and less like mustard.

The first batch I made, I thought you had to whisk it constantly until it thickened.  What that did was fluff it up into a whipped, lemon-flavored, creamy spread.  It tastes fantastic, but does not have the texture of traditional lemon curd.  I used it to fill the petit fours for the tea.

The second batch, I kept the whisking to a minimum.  At some point, I discovered that you could swirl the bowl on top of the pot of water, which would stir the mixture adequately to prevent egg curdling and not produce any bubbles at all.  I did stir a touch every minute or two, to scrape the edges, but this is my new double-boiler technique for anything in the liquid state.

3 Tb sugar
*1 egg yolk
*1/4 C lemon juice
1 Tb plus 1 tsp butter
drop of vanilla
dash of salt

1.  Set up a double boiler with a pot of simmering water under a heatproof bowl.  Whisk together sugar, yolk, and lemon juice in the bowl.  Then switch to a spoon or spatula.

2.  Keep the mixture moving.  A lot.  I didn't look at the clock, but it was probably close to 15 minutes.   At some point, it's going to gel up into a thick, glossy, golden mass of ooze.  That's the color of cooked egg yolk, and you're ready to move on.

3.  Remove from heat.  Stir in vanilla and salt, then drop in butter.  Keep stirring until butter is melted and incorporated, or you're going to end up with discoloration when the butter cools and forms globs.  If you notice the curd has grains of egg, strain it into a container.  If not, just pour it in.  Get a piece of plastic wrap and touch it to the surface of the curd before placing in the fridge, so it doesn't develop a skin.  Chill for at least 2 hours before removing plastic and serving.  Keeps about 3 days in the fridge, or you can freeze it and pull it out the day before serving.

Makes about 1/3 cup

Difficulty rating :)

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