I love receiving homemade foods as holiday gifts. My favorites are those that will last at least for a week or so after Christmas. As a giver of food gifts, I also like making presents that can be expensive to purchase, such as this Surlatable Lemon Curd pictured above, that sells for $8.50 for an 11-ounce jar.
You and I could whip up quite the vat o’ lemon curd for $8.50. (As an aside, notice the packing. It’s what makes the gift. It’s simple but elegant. We could do that.)
Lemon curd is not curdy in the least. It’s smooth and sweetly tart and ideal for many reasons. First, you may have noticed that the North State has an abundance of lemons. (I can even grow them in Igo, as long as I keep deer fencing around them.)
Second, lemon curd is a classy topping that’s delicious on scones, muffins or used as a filling inside a tart. Third, it’s easy to make, and when packaged in pretty little jars topped with a bit of ribbon and a homemade tag, those who receive your lemon curd will feel very special. And you’ll feel pretty smug.
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
7 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
2 sticks butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup sugar
Set aside a bowl partly full of ice water. (That’s for an “ice bath” – in which later you’ll set the pot bottom of your pot to halt the cooking and prevent curdling.
Whisking continuously, place all ingredients in a heavy, medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. As the butter melts and the mixture cooks, stir constantly, for about 3 to 6 minutes.
Watch the mixture carefully. Do not bring to a hard boil. (The hot mixture should be slightly thickened.)
Remove the lemon curd from the heat. Still stirring, set pot bottom into its ice bath (being careful not to allow water into the lemon curd).
Stir as the lemon curd cools. Strain before pouring into a container. (This part is optional, but I prefer to strain the lemon curd to remove the zest and any white, slippery egg parts.)
Press plastic wrap onto the curd surface (to keep it from forming a skin).
Refrigerate it up to one week. Use as a filling for tarts or cakes, or as a topping for scones, crumpets, muffins or desserts.
Makes about 3 cups.
This “Best Of” article originally appeared December 23, 2008.