This tart, ultra-smooth lemon curd recipe is easy to make and adds a puckery addition to tarts, cakes, cupcakes, doughnuts and more. Any extra can be spread on muffins and scones. The zest adds more flavor, but a great texture as well. If you want the cream to stay silky smooth, leave it out. Also, while you can make this in the top of a double boiler, we have found that with constant supervision – do not walk away from the stovetop – you can make this more quickly and easily over low direct heat. Just use a pan with a heavy bottom and watch it carefully. If you have a saucier pan with a rounded bottom you will be able to whisk the lemon curd most easily without any scorching.
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
- ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional)
- Place eggs, yolk, sugar and juice in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk together to break up the eggs and incorporate the sugar. Add butter. Cook over low-medium heat, whisking frequently. When the mixture looks like it is about to bubble around the edges, lower the heat and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and reaches 180˚ F. (The temperature is more important than the time it takes, and the mixture should not boil.) The curd will thicken and form a soft shape when dropped by a spoon. It will also begin to look a bit translucent. If desired, stir in zest after removing from the heat. Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally to release heat. Refrigerate in an airtight container at least 6 hours and up to 1 week.
- OK, we admit it. In a pinch we have made this with frozen lemon juice (defrosted, of course). It has a superior flavor to bottled, but really, try to plan ahead and use fresh squeezed.
- There are four ways to approach the “zest” issue. Citrus zest holds a lot of flavor, but cooking with it or adding it raw result in different levels of intensity. In terms of strength, from least to most intense flavor: leave it out completely, add it after cooking, add it before cooking and strain it out, or add it before cooking and leave it in. Try each to see which you prefer.