Friday, July 22, 2011

Lemon Lavender Curd

I am on a lemon curd kick. I bought a jar of it at Trader Joe's a few months ago for the first time in ages and I have been obsessed with it ever since. I mix it into Greek yogurt and calling it breakfast. It tastes like dessert. It is better than jam, tart and sweet and blending in so perfectly. Also, I became obsessed with the idea of mixing it with meringues, in some form. I wasn't remotely sure what that form was going to be. (In the end, it was macarons, which I will post about later.)

There are recipes that involve a candy thermometer, and recipes that use corn starch. This one does neither; the temperature is eyeballed and guessed at, and eggs do all the thickening. They are cooked eggs. (I hate working with cornstarch, and I avoid it as much as possible.)

I try to buy organic citrus if I'm using zest, and fortunately Trader Joe's had dirt cheap bags of organic lemons. I wash them off, too, before zesting. It's taken me a while to figure out how to make citrus curd that isn't painfully sour. I like sour, and it took me a while. I think my new microplane helps. It makes zesting so easy. I used four lemons, and most of the zest for all of them. Because I have 1/4 pound of culinary lavender buds (seriously. I ordered online and didn't really realize how much that was going to wind up being until it showed up) I decided to throw of those in as well. One of the wonderful things about making lemon curd is that it doesn't matter what is in there, so you juice the lemons straight in and don't worry about seeds. Or lavender flowers. You strain it all in the end. (This is the other trick that Ina Garten didn't teach me.)

Cook this all up until it bubbles a little. It doesn't take long, it's not that much lemon juice. While it's cooking, crack your eggs, and whisk in sugar. When it bubbles, slowly pour the hot lemon juice into the eggs, whisking the whole time. This takes two hands. Adding the hot lemon juice too quickly will just get you strings of scrambled eggs. The eggs need to cook slowly. Once it has all been whisked together, pour it back in the pot.

Stir constantly, using a heat proof rubber spatula. When it's mostly thickened up, add cubes of cold butter. Don't stop stirring. Never stop stirring. When it's ready, the curd will stick to the spatula.

Pour the curd through a mesh strainer into your prepared bowl. A strainer + cheese cloth is unneccessary, and it's almost impossible to get the curd through both. (Believe me, I have tried.) I am impatient, and I push the curd through, leaving behind long pieces of lemon zest, lemon seeds, and lavender flowers. This is the other trick to keeping the curd from going too crazy.

Let it cool some, and the pour it into a jar. I have no idea how long it stays good. Mine always disappears into stomachs long before it turns.

Lemon Lavender Curd
1/2 c lemon juice
zest from all the lemons
1/2 c sugar
3 eggs
1/4 c culinary lavender blossoms
6 T butter, cubed
pinch of salt (optional)

Zest the lemons and mix with lavender blossoms, juice and pinch of salt. Cook on medium low temperature until bubbling.

Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs and sugar.

Slowly pour the hot lemon juice into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.

Return everything to the pot. Stir with rubber spatula. Add cubes of butter.

When mixture sticks to the back of the plastic, it is done. Pour it through a mesh strainer. Let cool at room temperature. Put in jars, and refrigerate.

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