Pucker Up, Buttercup: Super Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd

Last week, I was gifted with some gorgeous Meyer lemons, which inspired me to make lemon bars for the first time. I was also interested in experimenting with lemon curd, another new adventure for me. While hunting for recipes, I found the best of both worlds: Joanne Chang’s recipe for Lemon Lust Bars from Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe. This recipe was different because, while most lemon bar recipes consist of a crust and an uncooked lemon filling which get baked together, this one featured a lemon curd, which was first cooked on its own and then baked on the crust. That pretty much sealed the deal.

Now, let me tell you– if you love lemon, you will want to put this curd in a pastry bag and pipe a slow drip right into your mouth all day. I am more of a chocolate hound than a fruit enthusiast, so my tolerance for lemon tartness is on the lower side. The first several bites are simply lovely– tart and sweet, with an awesome citrus zing and velvety texture (thanks to that ¼ cup of heavy cream). After that initial hit of lemon, I found that the pucker was way too much for me; I just love this lemon curd, but in small doses. Again, if you are a big lemon fan, you may think I’m crazy!

This much lemony goodness calls for lots of lemons, and making curd also involves cracking lots of eggs, so the ingredient prep for this recipe took me… longer than I’d like to admit in a printed forum. There is a good chance that you work much more quickly than I do, or at least have less OCD tendencies when it comes to cracking eggs. 😉 At any rate, it’s well worth the time. It is extremely versatile, and will likely be my go-to lemon curd in the future. Besides my Meyer Lemon-Brown Butter Bars, I would deploy this yummy curd as a filling for pies, cupcakes, and layer cakes, or as a fruity spread for scones and muffins– feel free to improvise with any spring/summer dessert that needs a lemon punch!

Lemon Curd 2

Super Lemon Curd
Adapted from Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe
Makes about 4 cups

The recipe calls for regular lemons, but feel free to substitute Meyer lemons for a slightly less tart curd; I used 6 of each.

  • 8 eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (500 grams) fresh lemon juice (12 large lemons for me)
  • ½ cup (1 stick/114 grams) unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup (60 grams) heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk the eggs and egg yolks in a large heatproof bowl until blended. Make sure to use a bowl big enough so that you can add more ingredients; otherwise, you’ll have to transfer the mixture to a bigger bowl. (What? No, that definitely didn’t, um, happen to me…) Gradually whisk in the sugar until combined; keep whisking until any clumps have dissolved. Set the bowl aside for a moment.

Lemon Curd 4

Place the lemon juice, butter, and heavy cream in a medium nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat and whisk to combine. Heat the mixture right up to the point of boiling, but do not allow it to boil. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly stream a small amount into the egg mixture, whisking constantly until combined. Continue adding the lemon mixture a little at a time and whisking after each addition, until all of the hot liquid has been incorporated. (Whisking keeps the eggs from scrambling.)

Once you have a unified lemon/egg mixture, pour it all into the saucepan, and turn the heat to medium. Stir the curd continuously with a wooden spoon and cook for about 5-8 minutes, taking care to scrape the bottom and edges of the pan often to avoid those pesky scrambled eggs! The curd will gradually thicken as it cooks and will coat your spoon in lemony goodness. To test for doneness, draw a finger along the back of the spoon; the curd should hold the trail for a couple of seconds before filling in.

Lemon Curd 5

Set a fine-mesh sieve over a medium heatproof bowl. Remove the saucepan from the heat and strain the lemon curd through the sieve. Whisk in the salt and vanilla. Allow the lemon curd to cool at room temperature. (If using for the Meyer Lemon-Brown Butter Bars, pour the hot curd right onto the crust and proceed to baking.) Transfer it to an airtight container and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

Lemon Curd 6

Utilize in the recipe of your choice… or grab a spoon. 🙂

Lemon Curd 3

© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2013.

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