When something is expensive and not easy to get, it is always a good idea to find a way to extend the flavour in some way. I did that this summer with my handful of cascade berries that were turned into liquour and then chocolates. It allows more people to share in the bounty. Originally lemon curd would have fallen into that category as well. Costly and rare, citrus fruits in England in the late 1700’s were for the rich.
To begin with lemon curd/cheese was an actual lemon flavoured fresh cheese. The warmed milk and possibly some sugar would have picked up the flavour of the lemon and spread it throughout the larger soon to be cheese pot. The curds, once separated from the whey and still fresh would have been spreadable.
Today lemon curd is no longer made the same way although the name has stuck. Lemons are more easily available. Fresh eggs can be accessed during the winter and butter and sugar do not take half your weekly wages.
You will need:
2 1/2 lemons, juice only
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
6 eggs, minus 2 egg whites (tomorrow I will show you what I did with the egg whites)
Prep yourself and your space by taking several long deep breaths. Wash your hands letting the warm water sluice off the nigglies from your day. Put on an apron to help bring your focus into the present moment. Welcome all the spirits you have asked here to help and begin.
Roll the lemons back and forth a few times to break up the cells of the fruit and then cut in half and juice. Juicing at room temperature will also help increase the juice you get. My grandmother’s original recipe called for two lemons. I like the extra tang and as always the choice is yours.
In a double boiler, over warm water, combine all four ingredients. Try mixing the juice and sugar together then stirring in the eggs so that there is a minimum amount of time for the eggs to sit by themselves heating. If you choose to melt the butter first then do not add the eggs directly into the heated melted butter.
Allow the water to heat melting the butter but do not let it boil ongoingly. The eggs will cook and not create the custard like finished product you are looking for. Just below a steady simmer is the best option.
Once everything is melted, the best thing you can do is pull up a chair and stir. Leaving this mixture alone will up the chances of lumps happening in the mixture and any pieces of egg that are not mixed in will cook separately in the hot sauce.
As the mixture begins to thicken you will see what is being taken off the bottom of the bowl attach itself to the spoon. Stir to incorporate into the rest of the mixture.
I was fortunate for having chosen the smallest double boiler I had. Although full, slow gentle stirring was allowed.
This mixture will continue to thicken as it cools. Pour into jar and store in the fridge for no more than two months. ( Don’t worry, it never lasts ).
If, while filling the jars, you discover that your mixture is not as smooth as you would like it, there is a solution.
Pour the curd through a sieve and using a spoon to stir, work the creamy mixture until just the lumps are left in the sieve.
This mixture can be used as filling in cakes, sauce on ice cream, “jam” on toast or folded into whipped cream as a dessert.
Pop the empty shells, either home made or purchased into the oven for about 5 – 8 minutes, just to crisp and warm. Fill with cold tangy lemon curd and serve immediately.
When serving these on a tray of Christmas goodies, fill only what you need. The filling will soften the tarts shells if left to sit.
My memories always return to Christmas as that is when, in this family, lemon curd tarts always made for the happiest of holiday traditions in my family.
Lemon Curd/Cheese Tarts from My Kitchen Wand