Although my grandmother’s
favorite color is blue, I often
associate her with yellow.
Her birthday is May 25,
which is always around the time that the
first yellow blossoms appear on the wild
rose hedge in her driveway.
She’s also very fond of
lemon: whether in birthday cakes with
lemon filling, lemon meringue pies or
Lemon curd must be one of
those foods with a small but devoted
I mean, you almost never
hear about it, yet you can find bottles
of this custardy, sweet-tart spread in
the jam aisle of most grocery stores.
Recently, I even came
across it at the Crabtree & Evelyn store
in the Chandler Fashion Center, where I
picked up a jar for my grandmother.
In its bottled form,
lemon curd can be used like jam on
toast, scones or (mmm) hot blueberry
Yet it’s also easy to
make from scratch, and homemade lemon
curd is heavenly stuff.
If you’re looking for a
special treat for Mom (or Grandma) this
Mother’s Day, look no further —
provided, of course, that Mom or Grandma
Lemon curd is essentially
a soft custard, so you cook it like you
would a pudding.
For 3/4 cup of lemon
curd, you’ll need the following: one
egg, one egg yolk, 1/4 cup sugar, three
tablespoons lemon juice, and four
tablespoons of cold butter.
Optional — but
recommended — ingredients include the
grated zest of half a lemon and a drop
(just a drop!) of vanilla extract.
You can double this
recipe if you’d like, but if you want
even more, resist the temptation to
triple it. Custard is finicky stuff, so
you’ll be better off making multiple
Here’s what you do. Cut
the butter into pieces and set aside.
Whisk the egg yolk, egg and sugar
together in a saucepan until thoroughly
blended, then whisk in the lemon juice
and, if using, the zest.
Some notes on zest: use
finely chopped or grated zest if you
want zest in your final product. If you
prefer a completely smooth curd, use a
vegetable peeler to harvest long strips
of zest that can be removed after
cooking — they’ll still provide some
Either way, be sure to
remove only the yellow part of the rind
and not the bitter white pith beneath.
Set the saucepan over
medium heat. Add a few pieces of butter
and stir constantly until the butter is
almost melted. Add a few more pieces of
butter and repeat the process until
you’ve incorporated all four
Now reduce the heat to
low and continue to stir constantly
until the mixture thickens. The curd
should be the consistency of hot pudding
— it will thicken more as it sets.
Don’t overcook or the
curd will, uh, curdle (and turn into
lemony scrambled eggs).
Remove from heat and stir
in the optional single drop of vanilla
extract. If you want a super-silky lemon
curd, press the custard through a fine
mesh strainer; else, simply transfer the
curd to a bowl.
Press a sheet of plastic
wrap onto the surface of the curd, then
pierce it in several places with a knife
to allow steam to escape. Chill in the
refrigerator for a few hours or a few
Serve the lemon curd
alongside fresh muffins for Mom’s
breakfast in bed. Or whip a cup of heavy
cream, fold it into the chilled curd,
and serve this lemony mousse in parfait
cups with fresh berries.
You can use lemon curd as a cake filling
or fold it into cheesecake batter. Or
simply present a (refrigerated) jar of
it to your mother or grandmother, with
heartfelt thanks and best wishes for a
happy Mother’s Day.