Lemon curd, the perfect treat for Mother’s Day

Lemon curd is one of life’s great pleasures! It is guaranteed to put a smile on any mother’s face. Although the recipe is quick and simple to prepare, it can be served any number of ways. Perhaps the easiest is to spread lemon curd on warm, freshly-baked scones with a dollop of whipped cream, or fill baked tartlet shells with this divine lemon mixture and decorate with sliced fresh strawberries.

One of my favourite recipes is to fold a cup of whipping cream, whipped until stiff, into the cooled lemon curd and serve it in a delicate meringue cup, garnished with fresh berries and a sprig of mint as lemon mousse. Or freeze the same mixture for lemon ice cream. Any way you decide to serve lemon curd, you will score five gold stars!

If this is your first time making lemon curd, here are some helpful hints:

Use a whisk to beat the mixture together; beat it until thickened and pale yellow in colour.

Cook the lemon mixture in a stainless steel saucepan to prevent the acid from the lemons reacting with the metal.

Do not answer the telephone or the door while making this concoction – give it your full attention. The curd will be ready in minutes anyway!

Lemon curd

2 eggs

1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar

1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh lemon juice
(2 or 3 lemons)

1 tbsp (15 mL) grated lemon rind

In a stainless steel saucepan whisk together eggs, sugar, lemon juice and lemon rind until mixture is thick and lemony – this requires some muscle but is amazing for the biceps! Cook the lemon mixture over medium-high heat, whisking frequently to prevent catching on the bottom of the pan. Once you see a few bubbles appear, the mixture is ready – this should take three to four minutes. Immediately remove saucepan from heat. If you are in a rush, spoon lemon curd into a stainless steel mixing bowl and put into a larger pan filled with ice. Whisk lemon curd until it cools, about five minutes. It thickens as it cools to a thick lemon custard consistency: smooth, tart, sweet and totally yummy!

Lemon ice cream

This is one of my favourite, most dependable recipes, one I use over and over again. Always use fresh lemon juice, not bottled concentrate, which gives a nasty, fake, chemical taste. Once limes are in season (July and August they are abundant and inexpensive) you can substitute lime juice and rind in the recipe with excellent results.

You will need a rasp. A rasp is a small, very sharp grater ideal for grating citrus zest. It also works well for fresh nutmeg from the seed and Parmesan cheese. Even better, ask for a rasp for Mother’s Day. Lee Valley carries them – they were originally a woodworking tool, but do double duty in the kitchen. You can also get them in good kitchen shops. You will love it – a good rasp will make life so much easier. Rasps add zest to life! (Sorry for the pun.)

For lemon ice cream, you will need one serving of the above recipe for lemon curd, cooled in a mixing bowl over a larger bowl of ice, and whipping cream.

While waiting for the lemon curd to cool, whip the cream. Amount of cream depends on the number of people you are serving. For four to six servings, use 1 cup whipping cream (35 %). For eight servings use 2 cups of whipping cream.

To whip the cream, use an electric mixer in a deep bowl (to prevent spraying cream all over the kitchen), or a whisk if you have a good strong arm. Whip the cream on a medium-high setting or whisk like crazy until soft peaks form, rest, then carry on until stiff peaks appear.

Check the lemon curd to make sure it is cool – stick your clean finger into the middle of the cooling mixture. If it is cool, you are ready to fold the whipped cream into the lemon curd, with a folding motion using a rubber spatula. Continue folding until mixture is smooth and well blended, with no white or bright yellow bits showing. At this point you can taste this divine mixture which, unfrozen, is lemon mousse.

Spoon the mousse into your prettiest cups. (I use small demitasse cups but small glass bowls work, as do wine glasses). Refrigerate until serving time, up to four hours ahead.

Ice cream: Put mousse into the freezer for up to four hours and serve as ice cream. If you wish, garnish with fresh strawberries and mint leaves. Ice cream can be made up to two days in advance. Cover well and keep frozen, but let stand in refrigerator at least one hour to soften slightly before serving.

Try one of these ideas and you should have some very happy people celebrating Mother’s Day with you!

 


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