Sunshine Sweet: Citrus Curd

Lemon Curd via Sweetapolita

Here’s something you might not believe: If I could only eat one type of dessert for the rest of my existence, I would have a hard time choosing (that’s the not part you might not believe), but what I do know is that it would be smothered in, filled with, topped with or made entirely of citrus curd. Who’s with me?

Lemon Curd via Sweetapolita

True, Meyer lemons, limes, Key limes, grapefruit, oranges — they’re all pretty delightful on their own, but marry citrus juice with eggs, sugar and butter and you’ve got a whole new world of awesome. I know citrus curd has been around forever, but I find sometimes it gets overlooked and in some tragic situations, underloved. Even I forget about it sometimes and go about life thinking things are okay, but then I realize that something very zingy-sweet is missing.

La La Lavender & Lemon Cupcakes via Sweetapolita

You might remember these little La La Lavender & Lemon Cloud Cupcakes from last week with their dollops of lemon curd nestled comfortably under Whipped Lavender Frosting. As promised, I wanted to share the recipe I use for my citrus curd, and that’s just it — it’s “citrus” curd because you can use any kind of citrus, switch it up from time to time, and use the same base recipe. It’s so versatile, so incredibly tart and can really add a punch of sunshine to any dessert (or spoon). I would say my favourite of the curd flavours is Meyer lemon (they just pack so much amazing sweet citrus flavour), but since we only get them (imported) in grocery stores for a few short weeks in the winter, I most often use organic lemons, as I did with these cupcakes, but well-washed regular lemons make a dandy curd too.

Triple-Lemon Blueberry Cake via Sweetapolita

As they did for this Triple Lemon Blueberry Cake (while we’re on the topic, this cake makes an incredible Mother’s Day dessert). The intense and lemony curd was just what this cake needed to compliment the sweet frosting on the outside and that’s just it — you can add curd to pretty much anything and it kicks it up a notch. You can even add a few tablespoons (to taste) of lemon curd to a stable, classic frosting and whip it in for a simple and flavourful twist.

I have tried many different recipes for the curd itself, and although they’re all good (I just love experimenting), I most often make the version I included in this post. Some recipes include more eggs and yolks, more or less juice, more or less butter, and zest or no zest, so I’ve ended up settling on a mix of a few recipes I’ve tried for something that falls right in the middle. I make it and freeze (you can freeze for up to 1 month, or so), which comes in really handy when you’re making a dessert that has a lot of components, and you want some make-ahead options.

Lemon Curd via Sweetapolita

This batch in the photo was Key Lime Curd, and I made it for filling a Key Lime Coconut Cake (this was a photo before I completed the cake). The recipe I use does include a few teaspoons of zest, which I personally love, but you could always omit that. If you do opt for filling a cake with it (and really, why would you not), just be sure to pipe a nice stiff frosting dam around the cake first, so that the curd doesn’t ooze out when you add another layer.

This is actually a great idea for anytime you are using a filling that is a little soft or loose, so let’s say you had a really light frosting/filling, you can use a stiffer frosting for a dam and continue with your light frosting inside of it. But, in the case of citrus curd you will always want to pipe the dam — trust me. Just remember that when you’re filling a cake with citrus curd, you then need to keep it refrigerated after a few hours at room temperature because of the eggs that are in it.

So whether you decide to simply eat it alongside cookies and scones, jar it and gift it, add it to frosting, fill a cupcake, place it on top of a cupcake, fill a tart, fill a cake, or do what I do and sit down with the whole lot and a ladle spoon, just know that it will undoubtedly make someone’s life a little brighter. ♥

I will see you much sooner than later, my friends, with an insanely delicious post — you’ll see!

Here’s the recipe:

Citrus Curd           {click to print}

*loosely adapted from Williams Sonoma

Yield: ~ 1-3/4 cups

Ingredients

4 lemons (or 6 Meyer lemons), or 2 oranges, or 5 limes (or 8 Key Limes), preferably organic

2 whole eggs plus 4 egg yolks

1 cup sugar (200 grams) (7 ounces)

4 tablespoons (60 grams) (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small even cubes

Method

1. Wash citrus really well (with a bristled brush under cold water) and using a Zester, remove all of the coloured portion of the peel from the fruit (not the white pith–it’s bitter!) into a bowl or onto a piece of wax paper. Rotate fruit as necessary to get as much of the zest off. Repeat until you have 2 teaspoons (30 mL) of the zest, and set aside.

2. Slice the citrus in half crosswise (I find room temperature citrus is best for juicing) using a sharp knife, and extract as much of the juice as you can using a citrus reamer, or I use a small Citrus Juicer. Just be sure to catch all of the juice in a bowl and to completely strain the seeds before using. Repeat the juicing until you have 2/3 cup (5 fl oz/160 mL) of the strained juice.

3. Get your double boiler ready by filling a saucepan with 1″ of water, then placing a metal bowl on top of the saucepan. You will need to ensure the bowl fits snugly into the top of the saucepan and that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water (important, or your eggs will cook!). You can now remove the bowl and continue with making the curd.

4. Whisk the juice, whole eggs, egg yolks and sugar in the bowl until smooth. Add the butter cubes to the bowl, but don’t stir.

5. Heat the water in the saucepan over low heat until it simmers (not boils) and place the bowl atop the rim. Stirring gently, but constantly, using heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, cook until the curd has thickened and all of the butter has melted and is incorporated, about 10 minutes (this can vary). To test if the curd is thick enough, remove the spatula or spoon from the curd and check that it’s coated.

6. Strain the curd over a bowl using a fine-mesh sieve and then stir in the zest. Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly against the curd (to prevent a skin from forming) and chill for at least 3 hours (I like to chill it overnight). It also thickens up a bit more while chilling.

Sweetapolita’s Notes:

You can use the chilled curd right away, keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze the curd in an airtight container with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the curd surface for up to 1 month. To use frozen curd, you can remove from freezer and use immediately–no need to thaw it as it doesn’t really freeze, per se. You can either scoop out what you need and keep the rest in the freezer or use all at once.

Citrus Heaven.

Good luck & enjoy!


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