Lemon curd is a thick and custardy combination of lemon juice, sugar, eggs and butter. It typically has a silky smooth texture and a bright, zesty flavor. It goes well with scones – especially as a contrast to buttery clotted cream – and is often used as a cake filling, tart filling or as a sauce or side for other desserts. For a citrus lover, few things are tastier.
Lemon curd tastes so good that it’s hard to stop at only a few bites. Unfortunately, the rich consistency of lemon curd primarily comes from fat and, although the zest of the lemon makes the curd taste lighter, most versions are far from health food and you really shouldn’t overindulge – especially if you’re serving the curd alongside butter and cream-based traditional scones, as well.
In Chocolate and the Art of Low Fat Desserts (sadly out of print, but often available used), Alice Medrich includes a recipe for a lightened up lemon curd that is absolutely fantastic. I’ve been making it for years and, happily, don’t feel too bad if I eat half the batch in one go. The curd has a silky smooth texture and great lemon flavor. In fact, it is much brighter than many lemon curds I’ve had. The recipe is easy to make as long as you have one or two fresh lemons around. I’ve also adapted it to make lime curd before with great success.
Light Lemon Curd
(from Chocolate and the Art of Low Fat Desserts)
1/3 cup strained, fresh lemon juice
2 tsp fresh lemon zest
5 tbsp sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, combine sugar and lemon juice. Add zest and stir until sugar is dissolved completely.
In a medium bowl, lightly beat egg. Whisking constantly (or with an electric mixer on low), very slowly stream the hot lemon-sugar syrup into the egg. Beat for 2 minutes (only 1 if you’re using a mixer), then transfer back into the saucepan by pouring the mixture through a sieve.
Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the curd just comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Transfer to a small airtight container and store in the fridge.
Makes about 2/3 cup. Recipe can be doubled.