Hi, I'm Torrey. Welcome to Left Field, where creativity runs amok and imagination is ALWAYS more important than knowledge. Shoes are not allowed but ties are optional. This is a repository of snippets from my life out here in Left Field. One never knows what shiny bits of creativity will be found here... cards, scrapbook layouts, photography, poetry, recipes, ponderings, rantings and musings. It could be anything! Life in Left Field is always changing, always real, always ...interesting.

August 15, 2015

High Tea, Texas Style...Part 7--Lemony Goodness

Hidy ho, crafty peeps!!

If you just joined me, I'm regaling everyone with the coverage of the High Tea, that my mom and I hosted a few days ago.

Here is what you've missed so far:
Today, we continue on the Sugar Express with LEMON CURD (and, their partner in crime--Lemon Tarts).

For those of you who have never heard of Lemon Curd...I'm sorry. Truly I am. You've missed out on something...amazing. Lemon curd is WONDERFUL (when it's done right). 

It's a velvety, tangy, bright, lemony, rich concoction that is suited for LOTS of things!
  • scrumptious filling for tarts or thumbprint cookies
  • as a delicious spread for...well...just about anything like cake, toast, croissants, scones, biscuits, muffins, pancakes, waffles, gingerbread, French toast, crepes, cookies, roofing shingles, patio tiles, Frisbees...anything!
  • mix it with whipped cream and freeze it for an AWESOME summery dessert!
  • as a topping for fresh berries!
  • as a topping for ice cream!
  • mix it in your favorite cheesecake recipe for a Lemon cheesecake that is to die for!
  • layer it with prepared pudding for a pretty parfait or trifle!
  • mix it in yogurt for a breakfast treat!
  • How about making Lemon Chicken?? Here is a recipe for Rachel Ray's Lemon Chicken.
As you can see, it's VERY versatile. 

Even though it's yummy, to buy (good) lemon curd is EXPENSIVE. I've seen little 8 oz. jars of the stuff go for $10-$25 in fancy epicurean/culinary stores. And prepared (aka "canned") lemon curd is nowhere NEAR as good as fresh, homemade lemon curd. Homemade curd costs less than $2 to make about 16 oz of it.

But, it has a nasty reputation when it comes to making it. It tends to be... temperamental (heavy on the MENTAL part). And, like its cousin Hollandaise Sauce, it can turn on you in an instant and end up a HOT MESS if you don't know the secret.

Trust me, there is a secret...

to making PERFECT Lemon Curd. 

Every. 

Time.

Guess what? I know the secret, and I'm gonna share it with you.

Traditional methods of making lemon curd call for combining everything BUT  the eggs...then slowly adding the eggs as it cooks. This pretty much guarantees that your curd will seize up-- and you will get bits of cooked egg in your curd requiring you to have to (painstakingly) strain it through a sieve at the end. But my FOOLPROOF method takes care of that annoyance once and for good.

The science behind the secret has to do with the egg proteins getting little coats of armor from the butterfat. This bullet-proof fat vest protects the proteins from the effects of the acid in the juice...which normally makes the protein molecules agglutinate (clump up). So, now you know. (I totally just felt like Alton Brown).

You can completely ELIMINATE this agglutination, altogether, simply by combining the ingredients in a different order. Follow my steps below, and you will get perfect results, every time.
Foolproof Lemon Curd
 Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (~4-5 small lemons)
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
 Directions:
  • Cream together sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Use a mixer, it makes life easier.
  • Add eggs, ONE AT A TIME, mixing well after each addition.
  • Add yolks, ONE AT A TIME, mixing well after each addition.
  • Remove zest from lemons, chop finely, and set aside.
  • Juice lemons and strain juice. 
  • Add strained lemon juice to butter/sugar/egg mixture and mix well. At this point it WILL curdle and look disgusting (see image below). But fear not! As soon as it heats up a bit, it completely smooths out...MAGICALLY! (Remember our little bullet-proof butterfat vests?)
  • Transfer to heavy saucepan and cook, over LOW HEAT, until it does its magic smooth-out thing. Make sure you keep stirring it until it's all smoothed out. See? I told you it magically smooths out! Look how velvety it is!
  • After it becomes smooth, increase heat to MEDIUM. Using a heat-proof silicone spatula...CONSTANTLY STIR IT while it's cooking--paying close attention to the corners and bottom of pan. KEEP IT MOVING. This is IMPORTANT. If you fail to stir it, you'll get overcooked parts that will cause lumps.

  • As it cooks, it will thicken. DO NOT let it boil. Repeat after me: "Keep it moving. Don't let it boil. Keep it moving. Don't let it boil. Keep it moving. Don't let it boil".
  • It's ready when you drag your finger down the back of the spatula and it leaves a solid trail. The cooking takes about 10-15 minutes.
  • It will continue to thicken as it cools.
  • Add chopped lemon zest NOW. Stir it in.
  • Pour hot lemon curd into clean, heat-proof jars and let sit for a few minutes (like 10) to cool a bit
  • Cover surface with plastic wrap (so it's touching the surface)...this will prevent a skin from forming.

  • Put the jar lid on, tightly, and pop it in the refrigerator.
  • It will keep, in your fridge, for about a week or so (yeah, like it will last that long).
  • Some people say you can freeze it for up to 2 months...but I haven't tried that, so if you do freeze it, you do so at your own risk. Let me know how it fares. I suspect that it will mess up the texture...but ya never know!
Okee dokee...now for the Lemon Tarts. These tarts are absolutely divine! They have a shortbread crust that only takes 3 ingredients to make. The crust is a wonderful shortbread cookie on its own, by the way.

Torrey's Lemon Tartlets
Ingredients:
For Crust:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • extra powdered sugar for garnish
For filling:
  • Lemon curd
  • fresh mint leaves (optional for garnish) 
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 (175 C)
  • In bowl, cream together butter and powdered sugar.
  • Add flour, a half cup at a time, and mix until it forms a soft dough. Note: dough will probably be crumbly at first, but keep mixing it and it will come together. 
  • Form dough into ball with your hands, then roll it out onto surface that is dusted with POWDERED SUGAR to a thickness of a little less than 1/4 inch thick. 
  • Use large flower cookie cutter to cut out dough.
  • Press dough flowers into mini tart pan (or mini muffin pan) as shown.
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes until lightly brown around edges.
  • Remove from pan and cool on wire rack
  • Place lemon curd in ziplock bag, cut off corner of bag, and pipe lemon curd into each cooled crust.
  • Dust tarts with powdered sugar and (if desired) garnish with fresh mint leaf.

Thanks, again, for playing in the kitchen with me! Stay tuned tomorrow for more Tea Party  SWEET STUFF! Tomorrow I'll feature Pecan Shortbread, Spiced Chai cupcakes, Brownie Bark, and Apricot Scones!


1 comment:

  1. I see a Texas State Fair ribbon in your future my dear!!!!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to comment! It is always wonderful to get virtual pats on the back!! I truly appreciate every comment...they are little bits of love.