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When Life Hands You Lemons….

I love lemon curd; it’s pretty hard not to. Despite its potentially unsettling name, lemon curd is a delicious alternative to jam, a great tool for the home baker, and in its off-the-shelf store bought version, a really handy tool to have in your pantry for last minute guests.
Lemon curd comes to us from Great Britain where the homemade version was initially used as a spread on scones enjoyed during afternoon tea. And for those of us who love old-fashioned, made-from-scratch lemon meringue pie, lemon curd is the base underneath all of that fluffy meringue goodness.
You can hop down to your local supermarket and pick up a thick and tangy version of lemon curd in the jam and jelly aisle; I purchased this jar at Wegmans, but have bought it before at Guercio’s and Delish. It’s great to have on hand as it can make delicious treats in minutes. Obviously it’s perfect on scones. Click here to find my recipe for lavender scones; they are an especially nice backdrop for the lemon curd. Dolloped into prepared phyllo cups (in your grocer’s freezer section) and topped with a touch of crème fraiche or mascarpone and a fresh raspberry you’ve got quick and attractive nibbles ready in no time. I also like to combine it with whipped cream cheese and press it between two gingersnaps, making my own very custom sandwich cookies. If you’re a baker, lemon curd is an excellent base for a classic fruit tart, filling for a cake, or–folded into freshly whipped cream, placed in a pastry crust and refrigerated–it makes a lovely chiffon pie.
The thing to remember is that lemon curd is leaps and bounds above lemon custards or fillings when it comes to flavor, and using a recipe that calls for butter will result in a silky smooth product that’s out of this world.
If you prefer to make your own lemon curd, it’s a simple as could be and if refrigerated, will keep for a reasonable amount of time. The other really divine thing about making your own is that you can certainly use lemons (look for firm, heavy fruit with a thick oily rind), but you can also use oranges, limes, or when they’re available, those amazing Meyer lemons.
The following lemon curd recipe comes from The Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. It’s simple and easy enough to do, but if your concerned about possibly scrambling the eggs, you might consider preparing this recipe using a double boiler.

Barefoot Contessa’s Lemon Curd

3 lemons ∙ 1 1/2 cups sugar ∙ 1/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature ∙ 4 extra-large eggs ∙ 1/2 cup lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons) ∙ 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Using a carrot peeler, remove the zest of 3 lemons, being careful to avoid the white pith. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar.
Cream the butter and beat in the sugar and lemon mixture. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.
Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken at about 170 degrees F, or just below simmer. Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate.

Written by Carolyn Batt

Carolyn Batt

Carolyn Batt is a Buffalo marketing director by day and international traveler the rest of the time--although always returning to her home for the past 12 years in Allentown.

View All Articles by Carolyn Batt
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