Once upon a time, I thought that citrus curd was this mysterious, highly unstable substance that could only be made in professional kitchens by highly skilled people only wearing white- Like the food equivalent of plutonium. Then, a few weeks ago, my dear friend Megzy had a birthday coming up. No ordinary cake would do, this is the gal who helped me painstakingly can 60 4oz cans of peach lavender butter as wedding favors last fall. I contacted her “boyf”- boyfriend to begin scheming a cake. I found out that this little lady likes key lime pie..OH REALLY?! So I dreamed up a vanilla coconut cake, frosted with a toasted meringue-esque frosting, with graham cracker sprinkles on lime curd as the filling.
This was my chance, to show myself (and the world) that curd was nothing to be afraid of. Egg yolks, citrus juice, sugar, butter maybe some zest. That’s really all that goes into a citrus curd. There are fancy recipes that call for double boilers and furious whisking.. but those are for chumps. The only criteria I see is that you have arms with working hands and that you can stand near your stove for about 15 min to stir frequently. Wait, what’s that you say? You really prefer sitting?Well pull up a stool. You’re doing this. I promise, you’ll be glad you did.
I had a game plan: Zest and juice about 5 limes (you wont use all of the zest, but its good to have on hand in the fridge), get my butter cubed and ready, ready my whisk and wooden spoon, stretch necessary hand/arm muscles (not actually necessary), and then begin separating eggs to get the show on the road.
Lime (or just about any citrus) Curd- aka Awesome Sauce
makes between 1-3/4 cups, or a little less than 1 pint
(adapted from Food in Jars’ Meyer Lemon Curd)
6 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup citrus juice- lime, or key lime (if you have a thousand key limes and a few hours to burn)
1 stick of butter (let it come to room temp at the beginning of the recipe)
1 tbsp zest- optional if you want a smooth curd
In a relatively small saucepan- 1+ qt, Over low heat whisk together egg yolks and sugar, once combined add lime juice and stir together. Reduce the heat if necessary, you want to avoid boiling this. Stir frequently, almost constantly, but in no way furiously. After about 9-10 min it should have thickened a bit, and it is done when you can take the spoon out of the mixture, the back is coated, and you can draw a line down the back of the spoon with a clean finger, and it doesn’t run back together. When in doubt, give it another minute but keep stirring frequently. If you want to be sure, the mixture should read between 165 and 170 on a candy thermometer.
Once you have reached the temp/consistency needed, remove it from the heat, and start stirring in your cubes of butter, 2-3 at a time (if you cut the butter stick in half long way and then into table spoons). Once those have melted almost completely, add another round and keep going until the butter is completely incorporated. Work the mixture through a fine mesh sieve, to get out any cooked eggy bits. Now you can stir in the zest if you so choose. Store in tupperware with a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd, so an icky skin doesn’t form. Refrigerate overnight aaand Boom. Sauce complete.
Put on anything that needs a little zing. Biscuits, a cake, a panna cotta, berries, filling a tart, as the sauce on a dessert pizza, on top of a rice pudding, on your finger, or a spoon if you must.
Because I wasn’t sure how much I would need to fill the 4 layers of the cake, I increased the recipe by half (i.e. add- 3 yolks, add 1/2c sugar, add 1/2 stick butter, add 1/4c juice- to the recipe as is). Worst case scenario you have some left over…and if that’s your worst case scenario, you are doing pretty well my friend.
ERH MEH GERD! CURD!