I was never crazy about lemon curd until I made it for myself. It took me a few tries to get it just right, but I discovered that while I like my curd very yolky, I do prefer the addition of one whole egg. I leave out the zest for a smooth, not-too-tart curd, but you can add some to ramp up the lemon flavor.
- 8 tablespoons [113 g or 1 stick] unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups [300 g] granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 5 large egg yolks plus 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup [80 g] lemon juice
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and salt and mix on medium speed until combined, another minute more. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl, and add the egg yolks on low speed. Increase the speed to medium and beat until smooth and light, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the whole egg and mix on low speed until combined, then add the lemon juice and mix on low low speed until combined, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Transfer the mixture to a medium, heavy-bottom sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a spatula, until the curd becomes very thick, about 10 minutes, or registers 170F [75C] on an instant-read thermometer. The mixture should coat a spatula at this point. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, then cover with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap sits directly on top of the curd (this will help keep it from forming a skin). Place in the refrigerator until well chilled. The curd can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 5 days.
Add 2 tablespoons of lemon zest to the mixing bowl with the granulated sugar for a lemon curd with a more tart, acidic flavor.
Variations: Lemon-Lavender Curd - Put 1 tablespoon of culinary lavender buds into the saucepan along with the curd mixture. Discard the buds when straining the curd.
Lime Curd - Replace the lemon juice with equal parts lime juice.
Grapefruit Curd - Replace the lemon juice with 1/2 cup [120 g] of grapefruit juice.