Thursday, March 18, 2010

Light and Luscious Lemon Curd

When it comes to having dessert, I want to splurge on something really tasty. It doesn't always have to be decadent and rich, but it definitely has to be delicious. Whether it's a bite of a sinful chocolate cake, a spoonful of vanilla pudding, or a bowl of perfectly ripe fruit, ultimately it has to taste good. Which is why I'm a little skeptical when it comes to "low-fat" desserts, because more often than not they always seem to disappoint in the taste department.

I love the idea of taking a dessert and lightening it up, and don't get me wrong, there are recipes out there that you would be hard pressed to tell are low fat. But when it comes to cake, if I'm going to splurge and have a piece, I want it to be worth it.
Which is not what happened with this cake I made a few weeks back. On paper the cake sounded amazing; layers of vanilla cake, topped with lemon curd and fresh blueberries. Everything was going great in the baking process, and when I pulled the cakes out of the oven I thought I might just have a low-fat winner on my hands.
But when we sat down to eat the cake, it was a different story. I wouldn't say that the cake layers were bad, they were actually moister than I expected, but the flavor just wasn't there. What was there however, was an amazingly tart and tasty lemon curd that I couldn't believe was made without butter. Most lemon curd recipes call for copious amounts of the stuff, so much so that I sometimes find myself asking, "Really? More butter?" And for someone that believes butter is always better, that's saying a lot.
But this lemon curd was amazing without it, and was worth making a cake that overall did not turn out as expected. I could see myself making this curd again and again, and loving the fact that it is slightly healthier. I also could see myself making this cake again, only with a different recipe for the cake layers.

This lemon curd isn't completely healthy however, it does start with 4 egg yolks. Those get lightly beaten and set aside in a heatproof bowl, as they will be tempered later with the lemon mixture that were gonna put together next.
Whisk together in a saucepan some lemon zest (mmm, lemon zest makes everything better)...
sugar (sugar can make things better too)...
and cornstarch. Cornstarch is well, good at making things better sometimes, but mainly it's just good at getting all over the place.
Add some water and lemon juice and then bring that baby to a boil. Cook it for 2 minutes and then it's time to temper the egg yolks.
Pour about a third of the lemon mixture into the egg yolks while whisking constantly. Then pour the egg yolk mixture back in to the saucepan and cook for about another 2 minutes or so. It will be very thick. Take it off the heat and whisk in some vanilla. Now vanilla, it definitely makes everything better.
Pour the curd into a container of some sort and let it chill out for a while, and least an hour or so. Enjoy your lemon curd over ice cream, fresh fruit, or maybe on your favorite cake with some fresh blueberries.

Light and Luscious Lemon Curd
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon, plus 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Put egg yolks into a medium heatproof bowl; set aside. Whisk together lemon zest, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Add 1 1/2 cups water and the lemon juice; whisk until sugar and cornstarch have dissolved. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly. Cook 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; gradually whisk one-third of the lemon mixture into the reserved egg yolks. Pour mixture into pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 2 1/2 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Pour into a bowl; place plastic wrap directly on surface. Refrigerate until firm and cold, at least 1 hour (up to 1 day).


  1. Yum! Even though the cake didn't come out as flavorful as expected at least you were left with a tasty lemon curd! Whip up some blueberry pancakes and pour that baby on top! Thanks for sharing this recipe :) can't wait to try it.

  2. Blueberry pancakes are a great idea! I've definitely got to try that soon.


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