Sunday, May 2, 2010

Lemon-Lime Curd

May 2, and already the air feels...swampy. Thick. Viscous. Like you could scrape it off the sky and put it in a jar to spread on your toast in the morning. Don't get me wrong--after this winter it'll take some hellish days to get me to complain. Nonetheless, the heat and humidity puts me in the mood for something crisp and acidic, cool and sweet. Cue lemon curd.

Lemon curd seemed appropriate because, as is the way with condiments, it's versatile. It's a biscuit- or blueberry scone-topper at breakfast. It could go on the bottom (or top, if you prefer the dominant style of doing things) of some vanilla custards or panna cottas. It might be useful between light cake layers as a bright filling. I'm already fantasizing about its potential in some plain ol' Greek Gods yogurt...or on almond shortbreads...or in miniature sweet pasties with some fresh herbs perhaps. Really, there are more options than you might initially think. Lemon curd may seem limited, but only because you're not trying hard enough.

Lemon-Lime Curd

--6 egg yolks
--1 whole egg
--1 1/4 cup sugar
--zest and juice from 3 lemons (not meyer lemons) and 2 small limes
--3/4 stick butter, cut into half tablespoon-sized pieces

1.) Prep all ingredients before beginning. Go ahead and do your zesting and juicing, and separate your eggs. This should be reasonably fun and very tactile. The little ribbons of zest, the bright citrusy scent, the pleasure of cradling yolks in your hand...You'll want to do all this at the beginning because once you get the yolks heating they can curdle very quickly. This isn't complicated, but you'll want to keep an eye on it.

2.) Place your yolks, the whole egg, and the sugar in the top of a double boiler on medium heat (you'll want an easygoing simmer) and whisk to dissolve the sugar, about 2-3 minutes.

3.) Add the finely chopped zest, juice, and butter, and stir with a spatula. The curd is done when you can run your finger through the film of curd on your spatula, and it leaves a track. This sounds vague but is really quite straightforward. It should take about 10-12 minutes.

4.) Remove from heat, allow to come to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. Transfer to a jar or another airtight vessel for storage in the fridge.

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