I can't believe I'd never eaten such a delicious thing as lemon curd before. It is SO GOOD. Any lovers of lemon will find it hard not to eat plain. Rich, buttery, bursting with mouth-puckering, sour-sweet flavor, this is something I will certainly add to my holiday fare. Lemon curd can be layered between pudding or whipped cream as a dessert, used as a filling for layer cakes, or, traditionally, spread on toast in lieu of jam, though I've not tried that.
** Those of you who are here to make the filling for the angel food cake should triple the amounts below. This will use up all those egg yolks perfectly. If you have any curd leftover, I found that a spoonful or two stirred into plain homemade yogurt turns it into a knockout dessert, as shown below. Plus, you know, there's always just that empty spoon waiting to be filled. **
Without further ado, a recipe for lemon curd, which I adapted from The Fanny Farmer Cookbook.
yield: about 2 cups
Grated zest of 3 large lemons
about 6-7 tbsp. of fresh lemon juice
1/4 lb. (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
In a small bowl, stir the yolks until thoroughly blended, then heat the butter and sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. To the butter/sugar mixture, add the lemon juice and lemon zest. Stirring constantly, pour the egg mixture into the lemon mixture, and still stirring constantly, continue to cook until the curd is thick. This may take up to 15 minutes. Don't increase the heat, as the butter and zest can scorch. Remove from the heat (curd will thicken more as it cools), cover with plastic wrap against the surface to prevent a "skin" from forming, let cool, and store in the refrigerator. Curd will keep up to 2 weeks, if you can bear to let it last that long.
* If you're worried about scorching, just use a makeshift double boiler. Fill a large pan with one inch of water and rest a bowl on top of that, not touching the water, but just above it. This way the water will heat the curd gently without fear of scorching it with direct heat. I'm usually too anxious to finish to use this method, though.