Lemon Curd

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The holidays are over. Heavy sigh. I feel a bit cheated due to the fact that our real break (after Christmas) was only just beginning when nasty viruses hit. My Mother, who lives nearby, came down with what seemed like the flu. A week later, she showed little improvement, so I took her into urgent care on New Year’s Day. Diagnosis: bronchitis. Prescription: antibiotics. Simultaneously, at our house, my husband and daughter were fighting off similar bugs. Somehow through nursing these three back to health, delivering Pedialyte, cough meds, homemade chicken soups, and components of the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and tea) to all, I managed to stay well! I can’t even believe I dared to type that!

In years past, my Mother and I have closed ourselves up in her kitchen for an entire day, baking and decorating a variety of holiday cookies. Since ‘simplicity’ was tagged as my word for December 2014, and I would be baking on my own this year, two or three kinds of cookies seemed more manageable. Three days, 250+ cookies, and many rounds of clean up later, I emerged, tired and grumpy. Next year… seriously!

By some gravitational pull… ahem, butter… this year’s cookie theme was shortbread. You know what goes really great with shortbread? Lemon curd. Now as a rule, I’m not a huge fan of lemon desserts, but this lemon curd, made with Meyer lemons, is nothing short of phenomenal! Meyer lemons tend to be sweeter than regular lemons, and lack the eye-tingling punch of acid of regular lemons, so they bring a refreshing flavor to this curd. Meyers come into season during mid-winter, so grab them up while you can. If you’re a big lemon fan, by all means use regular lemons instead. Or mix it up and use a few of each. Either way, this is one badass lemon curd!

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Add the buttery flavor and sandy texture of shortbread, with the creamy tartness of lemon curd, and you have a combination that will have you sneaking out to the kitchen after guests have gone to savor every last drop.

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I actually made four kinds of shortbread… chocolate, peanut butter, almond and vanilla.

You may be under the impression that lemon curd is difficult to make, but trust me, this is easy. And that step of straining it through cheesecloth you may have heard about? non-existent!

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I found these perfect boxes at The Container Store early in the season.
Note to self: pick up plenty of boxes early, even if you think you won’t need them (you will).They won’t be there when you return to buy more.

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The challenge was finding small jars for the lemon curd that would fit nicely into those perfect boxes. Thankfully, the wonderful people at Weck had me covered. Their 2.7 oz jar was a Cinderella fit. Be careful, Weck jars are addicting!

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Lemon Curd
Makes about 2 cups
This recipe easily doubles. I made 4 cups to fill 12 jars, and still had some left over.

Ingredients
3 oz. (6 Tbs.) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons) I used Meyer lemons (see notes on that above)
1 tsp. grated lemon zest (optional)

Directions
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer, about 2 min. Slowly add the eggs and yolks. Beat for 1 min. Mix in the lemon juice. The mixture will look curdled, but it will smooth out as it cooks.

In a medium, heavy-based saucepan, cook the mixture over low heat until it looks smooth. (The curdled appearance disappears as the butter in the mixture melts.) Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. It should leave a path on the back of a spoon and will read 170°F on a thermometer. Don’t let the mixture boil.

Remove the curd from the heat; stir in the lemon zest. Transfer the curd to a bowl. Press plastic wrap on the surface of the lemon curd to keep a skin from forming and chill the curd in the refrigerator. The curd will thicken further as it cools. Covered tightly, it will keep in the refrigerator for a week and in the freezer for 2 months.

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