Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother's Day Gift from the Heart: "Homemade Lemon Curd"

I'm a big fan of homemade food gifts and this Mother's Day is no exception. This year, I have made jars of homemade lemon curd for some of the special ladies in my life. I prepare my lemon curd with a no double-boiler needed method, using low heat, then medium heat. I do the "spoon test" to check when the mixture is ready to be removed from heat and strained. 

Lemon curd...I could go on-and-on about all the virtues of this tangy, bright yellow delight.  It originated in jolly old England and is very popular there to this day. It is a perfect filling for tarts and cakes. I love to spread some on a shortbread cookie. Serving some with scones or pound cake at tea time is a great way to channel your inner Downton Abbey!  

Preparation Tips: 
- Older eggs are actually great for using in a lemon curd because the egg white has broken down and helps keep the egg from curdling.   

 -Certain types of saucepans made of materials such as plain aluminum will react with the acid in the lemons and will cause the lemon curd to have a metallic flavor. Make sure you are using a heavy-based, nonreactive saucepan made from a material such as stainless steel, anodized aluminum or enamel.

- When you get to the step where you add the lemon juice and lemon zest, your mixture will look like a soupy and curdled mess. Don't worry because the remaining preparation steps are how the lemon curd gets its smooth and creamy texture.  

"Southern Fried Bride's Luscious Lemon Curd"
*makes two half-pint jars or one pint-size jar

3/4 stick butter, firm at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (if using fresh lemons, juice lemons then strain out the pulp and discard)

2 teaspoons lemon zest (zest of 2 medium lemon rinds) 

In mixing bowl, add butter and sugar. Cream with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes.  Add eggs and yolks one at a time.  Beat well for one minute.  Slowly mix in lemon juice, then lemon zest. Pour into a medium-size heavy saucepan and cook on low heat until mixture becomes smooth in appearance. C
lip a candy thermometer to the side of the pot. Increase heat to medium and stir frequently until mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. If you are not using a candy thermometer, watch mixture closely and stir frequently for 15 minutes, then do spoon test to see if mixture is ready by mixture being able to coat the back of a spoon. Do not let the mixture boil. Turn off heat and remove saucepan from the stove top immediately. Place wire strainer over heat-safe bowl and pour mixture into strainer to strain bits of cooked egg from mixture. When mixture has been strained, allow mixture to cool at room temperature. The mixture will continue to thicken as it cools. When mixture has cooled, transfer into pint-size jar, two half-pint jars. Cover the top of jar(s) with plastic wrap to prevent forming a skin over the curd mixture and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Remove from refrigerator and cover jars with tightly sealed lid. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week. Enjoy! 

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