Monday, November 05, 2007

it's all about the butter

i couldn't not follow up my last post on lemon cream scones without something utterly delicious like homemade lemon curd to spread on them, now could i?

if you've never had this incredibly good dessert spread, it is something you MUST make. admittedly, i can sit and eat the whole thing on its own unless i exercise massive willpower — it really is that good.

making lemon curd is a fairly simple procedure, however it can be messed up if you don't keep an eye on things. as it involves eggs and heating them, there is always the margin for error where you can end up with scrambled eggs. not to scare you off from trying it, assuming you've never made it before, it is a terribly simple procedure and one which will leave you with a product far superior than that of anything store bought.

the way i am doing it here is for a microwave method which makes things go very quickly as opposed to the stovetop method which involves a double boiler or heat diffuser and constant stirring. seeing as most people these days own a microwave, it's a logical alternative. if you want to do it on stove top, see the recipe for alternate instructions. additionally, i use a heavy duty (i.e. powerful) microwave oven, so if your's is less powerful, it may require longer cooking times.

important for making a good lemon curd is straining the lemon juice and the eggs. this must be done to avoid "guck" in it thereby achieving that silky smooth texture for which it is known. this is achieved with a fine mesh strainer and not one with wide holes. one also needs to use unsalted butter or in a pinch semi salted, and omit the dash of salt called for in the recipe. also, heed the instructions (as usual) as adding the eggs while the lemon and sugar mixture is too hot, will end up cooking your eggs and ruining the whole exercise.

i've never tried using non dairy margarine for this to make a parve product but i'm sure it could work. will it taste as good? to be very jewish about it, i'll answer the question with another question and ask, "does anything taste as good without butter?" please. as the saying goes, it's always better with butter!

another thing is the use of just egg yolks versus whole eggs. i've tried both, the results are the same in my opinion. in this one, i'm using the whole egg and not just their yolks.

if you want a non-egg version, see the end of the recipe. i've never tried it so i can't give it a seal of approval. if any of you vegan-ites try it, or have, let me know in the comments forum at the end of the posting. i'd be interested in knowing how it is.

and now, on to the recipe......

quick 'n easy luscious lemon curd

certain things must be indulged in and this is one of them. tart, sweet and buttery this is the best spread for any english morning breads or for a filling for a refrigerated pie, topped with sweetened whipped cream. forget the diet — life is too short not to enjoy certain things. lemon curd also makes a great holiday or host/ess gift; the recipe is easily doubled or tripled. if you like, you can make an extra tart variation using limes instead of the lemons.

makes ~ 2 cups (16 oz or 500 mL) — can be doubled or tripled

ingredients:

1/3 c (2.6 oz or 75 g) unsalted butter
3/4 c (1/3 lb or 151 g) granulated sugar
1/2 c (4 oz or 118 mL) lemon juice (about 3 large lemons)
2 eggs (yolks & whites)
dash of salt

method:

ream your lemons and strain them. this is very important. measure out the 1/2 c of juice. if you like you can add the grated lemon rind (which i don't like but that's up to you).

place the lemon juice, dash of salt, sugar and butter in a microwave safe glass bowl (medium sized).

microwave on high heat for up to 4 minutes, stirring after every minute. make sure to do this! if may take less than 4 minutes if you have a strong microwave oven. when the butter is melted, and all is dissolved, place it on the counter to cool for at least 3 minutes.

in the meantime, get a mesh strainer, and place it over another bowl. take the two eggs, one by one and, with a whisk, extract as much egg as possible. you will likely have some left over which does not pass through. that is fine.

continue with the next egg and repeat procedure. take a spatula and press the remaining egg against the mess to extract as much egg as possible.

discard what does not pass through it.

place the eggs in the cooled down lemon butter mixture and whisk well to blend.

now place the bowl in the microwave and cook it at 1 minute intervals. stir after each one minute.

in my case, after 1 1/2 minutes, it is almost cooked! i continue to cook it at 30 second intervals for a total of 3 minutes until the mixture cleaves onto itself and is thick like a very light pudding or whipped cream. whisk again well.

do not over cook the curd. it will thicken upon cooling.

place the curd into a very clean (sterilized) jar — i use a funnel to do this.

let it cool completely. i usually place a piece of muslin or light cotton cloth (or use cheesecloth) over it to allow the steam to escape. if you cover it with the lid, the steam will form water on the curd. if you're using a wide mouth jar, you can always cover the curd with a piece of plastic wrap and stab slits into it to allow the steam to escape as it cools. either way works.

knock the jar on the counter a few times also before it cools to let any air bubbles come to the surface.

store in the fridge.

enjoy in copious amounts!


STOVE TOP METHOD:

on top a double boiler or heat diffuser, over medium low heat, dissolve the lemon juice, sugar, salt and butter.

strain the eggs. place a 1/4 cup of the butter mixture in the eggs and mix them well and then slowly dribble the egg mixture into the lemon butter one. do this off the heat.

return the mixture to the heat and whisk continually until it gels and thickens.

see above for cooling and storing it.


NON EGG (vegan) version:

ingredients:

1/4 c (cold) water
1/2 c sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 c lemon juice
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
pinch of salt

method:

in a bowl whisk together the water, sugar, cornstarch, and salt until cornstarch dissolves.

transfer everything to a saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium high heat.

stir constantly and when mixture thickens, reduce the heat to low. cook it for another minute and keep stirring constantly.

now pour mixture into a bowl and add lemon juice and zest. mix well.

let cool and thicken at room temperature.

this version is best served at room temperature. it can be refrigerated, covered, for several days but before serving, beat it again thoroughly with a whisk.

makes approx. 1 cup.

11 comments:

sarita said...

boy, you're gonna kill me!lemon curd is sooooo good.:)) have always used the stove method with no egg whites.i have to try your easy microwave method, seems so easy.thanks for your metric measures for us europeans-i prefer to measure by weight-i'm a bit of a neurotic with measuring.it must be exact and that's sometimes a problem with eggs, how to choose them when we have here s, m, l and xl sizes ?-xl means more than 70gr.-i think it may matter in this recipe.anyway, you'll have to pay a dietist for me, LOL.kit.

maninas said...

mmmm I use sth similar to fill my lemon tart. lovely! i use the stove method to make it. will try the microwave, because it sounds so much easier!

speaking of my lemon tart, i had a bit of a situation with it when i tried substituting icing sugar with caster sugar... it just wouldn't roll.... aarrrggh i was out of my wits... i even wrote about it on my blog...

Emily DeVoto, Ph.D., said...

Interesting. Maybe I will have to score me some good lemons (they're so expensive this year!). Or how about limes?

I imagine the vegan version (also w/o butter) is pretty different. Is it worth it?

Magpie Ima said...

Ahhhh.....lemon curd! Nothing better on matzoh so we always make a big batch for Passover. Have you tried it with Meyer lemons? Absolutely the best thing ever!

burekaboy — said...

haha sari - well, at least you will die a happy girl! ;)

the microwave way is SO easy (and fast) and it turns out just as good as the stove top way. i also weigh everything and am neurotic about measurements (but you already know that!).

we have the same egg sizes here; all my recipes use large eggs unless i say otherwise in the recipes. at first i was skeptical about using the whole egg since i've only ever used egg yolks but it works great. try it out!

hi maninas - that microwave way is much easier. i hate the double boiler thing ;o

will check out your blog about the lemon tart. you can't always substitute icing sugar and caster sugar well in some pastry recipes i've found. oh well, i guess that's the way we learn these things. hope your dessert was still edible, nonetheless.

em - not sure how it would turn out though it could be "okay" as i've made a similar thing for a filling for a cake. i guess you could say it's a cross between a pudding and a lemon meringue filling. no eggs, no butter? i'm glad i'm not vegan.

sure, you can make the curd with limes but it'll be way more tart. i kind of have a love/hate relationship with limes and like them only in certain things or cuisines, like thai or mexican.

hey magpie ima - sheesh! i'd never have thought to make it for pesach. now i just have to remember to do that come april.

i'd have better luck finding hens' teeth than meyer lemons here ;) i only see them on the odd occasion. i imagine it must make a great lemon curd as they are not as acidic as the regular ones.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

So yummy! Now I am craving lemon curd ! Mmmhhh, on Challah, it tastes wonderful! I really love both specialities.
My lemon curd recipe is quite similar to yours and has lots of butter and eggs. It is the best way to prepare it!


Cheers,

Rosa

burekaboy — said...

hi rosa - :)) that's my favourite way to eat it also! especially on toasted challah.

Lannae said...

The eggless one looks easy enough. Do you think arrowroot would work too?

burekaboy — said...

hi lannae - hi there :) yup, i'm sure it would work fine. arrowroot and cornstarch are pretty much interchangeable. i wonder if adding a tablespoon or so of something like 'earth balance' margarine (the vegan one) at the end would make a nice finished version. anyway, if you give it a try, let me know how it turns out.

Anonymous said...

You are the BEST. Thank you for remembering those of us who have dietary issues and still have enormous cravings for these yummy treats! I bow to you! Your student always....Lorrie

burekaboy — said...

hi lorrie - LOL, you get an A+ for effort! one of my best testers, too :))

i haven't tried out this non egg version of it, so if you do, let me know how it fares.