Saturday, May 10, 2008

Goddess Lemon Curd -- Really

I know the lemon curd recipe I gave you awhile back was good. Of course it was. But I wasn't quite completely happy with it so there was no getting out of continued research and experimentation. Some of the results were okay, a couple were, let's say, unfortunate. It all worked out in the end. The above closeup may not actually be the Ultimate Microwave Lemon Curd but it has to be at least penultimate. At least. It makes me swoon. A mere teaspoon of the blessed stuff inspires giddiness and spontaneous humming.

My research turned up interesting information. Did you know lemon curd is also known as lemon cheese or lemon butter? I would guess that latter label is meant in the same sense as apple butter, do you think? Also, although only a couple of sources mentioned it, it's supposed to be better for the texture of the curd to add the butter last. (Some recipes don't call for butter at all.) In any case, that's what I did with this new recipe and the finished curd slides like silk across your tongue.

Also, there seems to be some difference of opinion on this but some chefs say using whole eggs makes for a thicker curd while others insist using only the yolks makes it thicker. I can't vouch for the difference, if any, because I hate recipes that require me to leave out either whites or yolks. Somehow they never seem to get used in anything, in spite of my best intentions.

But enough of that. Here's how you make Killer Lemon Curd. Wait. Why do all the best foods get accused of having a lethal nature? Killer This. Death by That. That can't be right. We'll have to do better. We'll call it:

Whisk together: 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup lemon juice and 2 eggs. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Whisk again, return to microwave for 1 more minute. Remove from oven and whisk in 1/4 cup of butter (2 ounces) that has been cut into pats, whisking one at a time until melted. Microwave for the final 1 minute, remove, whisk and let cool. Put in container with lid and refrigerate. Makes about 1 1/4 cups curd.

There you have it. Counting measuring and egg-cracking and whisking time, incredible curd in 5 or 6 easy minutes. It doesn't get much better than that. To my mind, the flavor of this version is the perfect balance of sweet and tart and, as I said, the texture is like silk. That gouge in the middle of the above bowl of curd happened when I spooned up some to fill a tart shell. And the angels sang.

I should add these notes: I'm using an 800 watt microwave. If yours is more powerful, you may want to adjust either time or power level. The thing you want to avoid is having flecks of egg white to sully the gold of your curd. That happens if you cook too high or too long. There appeared to be some flecks when I pulled it out after the first 2 minutes but a vigorous whisking seemed to solve that problem nicely.

When the curd is first done, it will seem runny. Don't be tempted to cook it longer. As long as it's thick enough to coat a spoon, it's just right. It will rapidly thicken as it cools and will end up about the consistency of mayonnaise or pudding.

I'm sure you could melt the butter before you whisk it in but that's just getting another dish dirty. Cut the pats right on the paper the cube was wrapped in, then toss the wrapping. The solid butter melts rapidly in the hot mixture and, anyway, I'll bet all that whisking is good for the curd. At the very least, it will make you feel virtuous and chef-like.

This smaller amount is perfect for me. I'm much more likely to use it all up before it gets too old. Besides, any time I want more, I can easily spare 5 or 6 minutes to fix it. I really don't know how well it would turn out if you doubled the recipe, supposing you wanted larger batches for gift giving. You might try one big batch to see, keeping in mind cooking time might be just a bit longer.

Jo had a great idea, using the curd for dipping sauce for her chicken fingers. I can vouch for how great it is in place of mayo in chicken sandwiches. Wonder how many other neat ways there are to use it? And then -- you know this HAS to happen, don't you -- there will be the fun of making curd with all different kinds of juices. Yum! A goddess just wants to have fun.


John Bailey said...

"virtuous and chef-like" Thats's a winner, Dee!

I'm going to have to go down the kitchen shop and buy a set of US measures so's I can keep up with your experiments. I have two sets of weights and (liquid) measures -- imperial and metric. Another won't hurt!

Dee said...

You know, John, if I was a nicer person, I'd give both US and metric portions. Every once in a while the thought crosses my alleged mind. Then I make myself take a nap and the idea goes away. (smile) I wonder if I can find a conversion widget that I can put in the sidebar so folks can translate my measures to metric? I'll do a hunt and see what I can find.

Dee said...

Were! If I "were" a nicer person. Sheesh.

Jo said...

Ah, Dee, you've done your magic again. I'll have to try the new and improved lemon curd. What? No lemon zest in it? That's kewl. It was tedious getting the zest off those three lemons I had to do the other day.

Wendy said...

Oh, swoon! I like the name Goddess Lemon Curd but among my set, it might get to be known as Lemon Curd Crack! (Our choice of lingo in place of "death" or "killer"--not that we'd really know.)

Dee said...

Jo, I just ignore the zest, Philistine that I am. Some recipes call for it, some don't -- and those that do often tell you to strain it out after the curd is cooked. It's easier for me to just tap a bottle of RealLemon.

Wendy, I think you may have something there. Isn't crack supposed to be instantly and highly addictive? Lord knows, lemon curd is!

Bonnie said...

For awhile I shall avoid the kitchen. Yesterday our heat factor was 104 degrees! Dishes waited until this morning.

ava said...

Dee, how long will this keep in the fridge, please?

Mage And George said...

Lovely looking curd and the tarts below too. One friend at work used wanton wrappers to achieve a similar result. Just put them in the tin, press, and bake just a few minutes. He filled them with a ricota cheese mixture topped by whipped cream, a dusting of pistachios and a cherry.

Now......can you address the limitations of those of us poor sods not allowed to have whole eggs, sugar or salt?

Many hugs........

Wolfie said...

Evil Goddess. Yes, evil. Lemon curd is one of the monkeys I used to be able to keep off my back because it was either WAY too much trouble or WAY too much money. Now that my drug of choice is so easy and quick, I may never recover!