Lemons make me happy and lemon curd makes me even happier!
The velvety smooth texture combined with the perfect level of creaminess (and the lip puckering tartness that lets you make the lemon curd into a mousse without losing the flavor) is something that I know will make you happy, too!
I almost always make this curd on birthdays, and last weekend was no exception! My momma celebrated her third birthday in heaven on Saturday. While I know she was up there partying it up with Jesus, I was down here thinking of how to be happy for her, because y’all, I miss her SO much!
There is a memory that makes me smile more than any other memory, because it’s such a mom and me moment. When she was sick, I was helping her clean out drawers and we came across some snapshots of my wedding day. The two of us bickered over EVERYTHING while planning that day. I wanted to wear a simple satin dress, but she always dreamt of dressing me in a long bejeweled gown. I wanted to get married in a historic white church with a gorgeous white steeple and she wanted me to get married in the big church that I grew up in. Instead of asking her, I took it upon myself to book the church I wanted. “You were feisty back then,” she told me. And maybe she was right — both about my feistiness and about making me compromise on my dress. 😉
The one thing that my husband, my mother and I ALL agreed on was a Katrina Rozelle lemon cake. It was a light white chiffon cake layered with this tart lemon curd filling and frosted with buttercream. There wasn’t even a cake topper left to save, it was so dang good!
So, with that thought in mind, I decided to make this feisty tangy lemon curd that I then turned into a lemon blackberry pavlova. Don’t ask me for pictures…my meringue was a little too “caramelized”, haha!
I start this process out differently than most lemon curd recipes, because I hate standing over the stove and stirring constantly so that the eggs don’t curdle while I wait for something to thicken. Don’t get me wrong, I still have to stir this lemon curd, but if something distracts me (aka kids), I am not so worried about it.
The first thing I do is cream the unsalted butter, sugar and lemon zest in my KitchenAid mixer (<– best thing ever!). Once it is nice and fluffy, I add in my eggs and let them incorporate thoroughly. I’ve done a little research and it seems that the science behind this is that by beating them with the mixer and coating in the fat early on in the process, it is denaturing the proteins and tempering them enough that they won’t curdle as easily.
Once the eggs are beaten in, then I add in the salt and lemon juice. It will look really gross, but don’t worry, it should look all clumpy and curdled at this point!
Next, I transfer the mixture into a saucepan and I cook it over medium low heat — stirring pretty consistently (I get distracted by pretty things fairly frequently during this process, so thank goodness it won’t curdle as easily!) — until it thickens up. It takes about 10-15 minutes.
Once it is thickened and easily coats the back of a spoon, I add in the vanilla extract and let it cool.
- 1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 4 large egg yolks
- pinch of salt
- 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 1 heaping tablespoon of finely grated lemon zest.
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Start by zesting and juicing your lemons. Be very, very careful not to get any of the white pith while you are zesting.
- Cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest in a stand mixer until light and fluffy.
- Add your eggs one at a time into your butter mixture while it is mixing. Allow your eggs to be thoroughly coated by the butter.
- Add in your lemon juice and salt.
- Once it is completely mixed, transfer the mixture to a saucepan and place on the burner. Cook over medium low heat while stirring until it thickens (it takes about 10-15 minutes). Do not let it boil. Once it is done, it should easily coat the back of a spoon.
- Once it is done, remove it from the heat. Then, stir in the vanilla and allow it to cool. If you'd like it to be really smooth then I suggest straining it to remove any large pieces of zest.
- ** This process does not require a double boiler, because coating the eggs in the butter prevents the egg from curdling when it cooks. Yay!!
- If you don’t want your lips to pucker as much while eating this deliciousness, try reducing the lemon juice to ¾ cup.
- Lemon curd can be frozen for up to a year.
- You MUST use butter. Please do not substitute this out for anything else.
- Use organic lemons if possible, since you are using the zest, and if you’re using store bought lemons, be sure to wash them well.
I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!