Lemon curd is amazingly versatile. You can use it to fill a prebaked tart shell, spread it between layers of cake, or serve a spoonful alongside a cookie or scone. It is rich and creamy yet tart and refreshing all at once.
KEEP SCREEN ON
Yield: Makes about 2 cups, enough to fill a 9-inch tart shell
Ingredients2 large eggs plus 2 large yolks
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest plus ½ cup fresh lemon juice (from 3 or 4 lemons)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
- Fill a medium saucepan with about 1 inch of water and bring to a simmer.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar in a medium heat-safe bowl until smooth and pale yellow.
- Add the lemon zest and juice and the salt.
- Place the bowl over the simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.
- Use a wooden spoon to constantly stir the lemon mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl often, until the curd begins to thicken and it reaches 165°F to 170°F on an instant-read thermometer, 8 to 12 minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the saucepan and set on top of a folded kitchen towel.
- Add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, and whisk until incorporated.
- Set the bowl over the simmering water again and continue to whisk until the curd is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and it reaches 175°F to 180°F.
- The whisk’s tines should leave a trail that quickly disappears in the bottom of the pan. (If you overcook the curd, the whisk will leave a wide trail that does not fill in quickly.)
- Stir in the vanilla extract (if using).
- For the ultimate in smoothness, pour the warm curd through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl.
- Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the curd’s surface to prevent a skin from forming on the top.
- Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours and up to 1 week.
If you don't have a zester, you can peel the lemon zest off in strips and pulse it with the sugar in a mini food processor or spice grinder.