Monday, May 23, 2005

When life hands you lemons...

... don't make lemonade, make a nice bowl of lemon curd instead! Not only is it good all by itself (perfect eaten with a spoon while standing in front of the fridge), but it's even better spooned over vanilla ice cream, layered in a trifle or spread between cake layers.

Lemon Curd
I believe this recipe originated in the pages of Fine Cooking magazine, but I'm not certain of that. Anyway, I've changed it a bit for my tastes, adding more butter and decreasing the lemon juice. Also, I prefer my curd sans zest, but feel free to include it if that's your thing.

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
½ cup fresh lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (optional)

Beat the butter and sugar until it's light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and yolks and then stir in the lemon juice. The mixture will look curdled, but don't panic--it'll come together soon enough.

Pour the mixture into a small (2-quart) saucepan and cook over low heat until smooth (stirring constantly). Turn up the heat to medium and stir constantly, without letting the mixture come to a boil, until it thickens enough to leave a path on the back of the spoon when you drag a finger through it.

Remove from heat and stir in zest if you're using it. Pour into a small-ish bowl, press plastic warp on the surface (to prevent a skin from forming) and refrigerate until cool.

Lemon Mousse
The only thing better than eating lemon curd straight from the fridge is to transform it into a light, lemony mousse (which also can be eaten straight from the fridge!). This is too easy: just whip up some lightly sweetened whipped cream and fold it into the curd.

Like the plain curd above, this recipe is wonderfully adaptive. I think the best way to eat it is piped into a bowl or ramekin and topped with fresh berries, but I'm sure it's good eaten any way you can think of.

1 batch lemon curd
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1-2 tablespoons sugar

Pour cream and sugar into chilled bowl and beat (preferably with an electric mixer--unless you really want to work your arm muscles!) until the cream holds stiff peaks.

Stir one-fourth of the whipped cream into the curd to lighten it a bit and then gently but firmly fold in the remainder.

Transfer the mousse to a serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

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