Many moons ago, when I was the mother of only a couple tiny kids, I had a very scandalous, very obese, very, very big dog named Hambone. Hambone was known for his lightning speed consumption of all food before him, whether it was intended for him or not. There was no food safe around Hambone.
Hambone ate his food. He ate his dog-compatriot’s food. He ate the cat’s food. He ate a pound of butter (still wrapped). He ate crayons, garbage, and -in short- anything that held still long enough for him to figure out how to get it down into his gullet. He was not discerning.
On a cold winter’s day, I laid the kids down for a nap and got to work on the snack I was supposed to bring to Bible study that evening. It was my turn and I decided to bring something indulgent, spectacular, unique… I settled on scones with lemon curd and clotted cream. The clotted cream I bought, the scones I made, and then came the lemon curd… I followed the time-honoured tradition of hand squeezing the citrus.
Lots and lots of citrus.
Then I set to whisking over a double boiler- whisking, whisking, whisking- until the egg yolks and sugar and lemon juice thickened. Then I dropped in the butter bit by bit and whisked even more until each little cube of butter was melted and incorporated. Now, I’ve been me a long time, and I’m consistent, so you may know what is coming next. I was making a quadruple batch. Of course! Why wouldn’t you make a double batch if you’re already going to so much trouble? This means I stood whisking for quite some time. In fact, I whisked my way through all of that precious nap time. My little fellows both woke or set to squawking at the same time… just about when that curd was finished.
Taking advantage of the cold weather, I set the bowl out to cool, covered with a screen, on a table on the porch. I did what moms do with freshly napped munchkins. I read, I snuggled, I tousled hair, I provided snacks. And then I heard a sound. A clatter. A sound that sounded like THE CLATTER OF A METAL BOWL SKITTERING ON A WOODEN PORCH. Empty. I had forgotten that the notorious Hambone was outside. He had eaten every last bit of my lemon curd from the bowl. It looked as clean as it had when I had taken it from the cupboard. I threw the bowl at the dog, locked the door, sat my sweet kidlets down in front of a Beatrix Potter movie and made another batch. A single one.
The dog was too full even to scratch at the door to be let in, and it’s a darned good thing because I was in no mood to let that beast into our warm abode. I got on the phone with my mom to complain and she said, “Oh no! I wonder if he’s in pain!” I responded, unkindly, that I hoped he was. Big time.
Time passed, Hambone had other memorable transgressions in the kitchen and I learned a few lessons.
- Never leave food near a dog under any circumstances. They’re just not built to resist the temptation.
- Lemon curd is far easier to make than I ever thought.
That second lesson is the real kicker. I learned that lemon curd does not need to be an exercise in self-flagellation. You need not whisk ’til your arms fall off. It is as easy as a burly blender or a microwave. Of the two methods, I prefer the blender method because you pop everything in, set it to high and walk away until steam billows forth from the top. If you don’t have a sturdily built blender, though, the microwave method is a vast improvement over the French galley-slave approach to lemon curd making.
Once I got the quick-curd methods under my belt, I started playing around a bit with ingredients. My favourite curd (which is really a very unappetizing word for what amounts to creamy citrus custard sauce) these days is a bright, light combination of lemon and lime, using the juice and zest of both citruses. Lemon and lime compliment each other beautifully… Where the lemon is all brightness, the lime has depth. The sugar softens up the sharpness of the citrus while the egg yolk makes the custard creamy. “Mouthwatering” is greatly overused when discussing foods, but there is simply no substitute for it here. Lemon Lime Curd truly makes your mouth water.
Even though you can quickly make curd just about any time using these quick methods, it’s nice to have it on hand ready to go at the smallest inkling of a craving. Lemon Lime curd can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. If you’d like to make it last longer than that, simply freeze for up to a year. Not that it’ll ever last that long.
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice (I used about 4 lemons and 5 limes.)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 5 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 9 egg yolks
- the zest of 2 lemons and 2 limes (use zest from the lemons and limes you squeezed.)
- Add the citrus juice, sugar, butter and egg yolks to the work carafe of your blender. Fix the lid firmly in place. Start the blender on low and slowly increase the speed until you reach the highest speed. Let the blender run on high until steam is pouring out of the top of the blender. Turn the blender off and -wearing oven mitts- remove the lid carefully. Use an instant read thermometer to check the temperature of the curd. It should be at or above 170°F. (If you don't have an instant read thermometer you can test the readiness with a spoon. Dip a spoon into the hot curd. Carefully draw your finger through it in a line. When the line stays for about 5 seconds before the curd comes back together it is ready.)
- *Remember the curd will thicken as it cools!
- Stir in the citrus zest and immediately pour into clean jars or heat-proof containers with tight fitting lids. Let cool slightly before storing in the refrigerator. If desired, once the curd has cooled slightly, you can lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent skin from forming on it. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 1 year!
- In a microwave safe bowl that is large enough to comfortably hold all of your ingredients, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until they are smooth. Whisk in the lemon and lime juice and butter until smooth. Microwave on high -uncovered- for 5 minutes, whisking well after each 1 minute mark until you reach 4 minutes. In the last minute, whisk well every 15 seconds, until the mixture has reached at least 170°F on an instant read thermometer. (If you don't have an instant read thermometer you can test the readiness with a spoon. Dip a spoon into the hot curd. Carefully draw your finger through it in a line. When the line stays for about 5 seconds before the curd comes back together it is ready.)
- *Remember the curd will thicken as it cools!
- Pour the hot curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl to remove any curdled egg bits. Stir in the zest and pour immediately into clean jars or heat-proof containers with tight fitting lids. Let cool slightly before storing in the refrigerator. If desired, once the curd has cooled slightly, you can lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent skin from forming on it. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 1 year!
And heads-up. You’ll want to be back here next Tuesday when I show you how to use your Lemon Lime Curd to make THESE: