Monday, April 18, 2005

Curd is Way Hard

Last night I had a couple friends over for dinner. I made a pretty simple dinner, fish tacos and a salad, but I was really excited about dessert. I had planned to make mini tarts with grapefruit curd and cinnamon whipped cream. I've never made a curd before, neither lemon nor orange. And I couldn't find a recipe for grapefruit curd, which is what I wanted to make. My usual go to books didn't have any recipes for lemon curd, which I figured I could adapt to make grapefruit curd, so I ended up looking in my Joy of Cooking. Kickin it old skool, well, new old skool, since I have the revised edition. Joy of Cooking had two recipes, one for lemon and one for orange, which were surprisingly different. I decided that grapefruits were sweeter than lemons, so I would try the orange recipe. This may have been my first mistake.

The instructions were somewhat vague, as in whisk the mixture until it's lighter in color. Lighter than what? Depending on what eggs you use, it could have started out pretty light. I assumed they meant lighter than it started, but that requires a lot of whisking, and I soon got tired. When my arm gave out, I decided they were light enough. This may have been my second mistake. Then you put the mixture on the stove and whisk over medium heat until it thickens. It's one of those instant transformations. I was whisking and whisking and then suddenly it was thick. Once it thickens, let it simmer for a few seconds, and then remove from the heat to cool. I may have let it simmer for a few more seconds than I should have, which could have been my third mistake. After it cooled, I put it in the fridge to set, as per the directions. And the result is what you see below.

The flavor is good, I'm happy about that. But the texture is plain awful. My friends, kind as they are, didn't think so, but I think it's sandy—not smooth, tart, and creamy, like curd should be. I think I might have to try again this afternoon. I'll keep you posted.


Blogger Matt said...

Curds can be tricky.
Check out this recipe for Grapefruit curd. Does it differ than the Joy of Cooking book?

4/18/2005 12:18 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

Yeah, this recipe is different. The major difference is the whipped cream you fold in. But most recipes are a combo of eggs, juice, zest, and sugar, and some have some amount of cream. I think I'll just have to experiment until I find the optimal ratio. Thanks for the suggestion!

4/18/2005 1:00 PM  
Blogger tk said...

Free the Curds! Long Live Curdistan!

4/18/2005 4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oddly enough, grapefruit curd was a component of the birthday cake I made for you and Andrew for your joint birthday party last year-- it was the filling between the layers. I, too, used some variation on a recipe for lemon curd, which was something my anglophile mother used to make when I was a kid.

Sandy probably means it curdled. As with custards, I think the trick is taking it off the heat (while continuing to stir) just as it's on the verge of thickening. I think Joy of Cooking led you astray with the "let it simmer a few minutes longer" advice.

4/18/2005 7:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, and we always added about half a stick to a stick of butter, which also might help make a smoother curd (and certainly butter makes most things pretty tasty).

4/18/2005 7:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh man, skip the curds -- just bring on the cinnamon whipped cream... mmmmmm.

4/18/2005 10:45 PM  
Blogger Vivilicious said...

Hi Julie,

Love your blog!

This recipe always turns out well for me...The butter is key!


1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 3/4 sticks (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces

Whisk together zest, lemon juice, sugar, eggs, and a pinch of salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Add butter all at once and cook over moderately low heat, whisking constantly, until curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and first bubbles appear on surface, 10-15 minutes. Immediately pour curd through a fine sieve into a bowl, then chill, covered.

4/20/2005 12:03 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

Hello V across the pond!

Thanks much for your recipe and kind words. I will be sure to try your curd, esp seeing as your people are so good at making it.


4/20/2005 5:36 PM  

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