A little bit sweet and a little bit tart, meyer lemon curd is delightfully delicious and incredibly versatile. This curd recipe uses the traditional double boiler method for the thickest, richest, creamiest curd. Is it the easiest way to make it? Maybe not. Is it the most effective? Absolutely! Use it for tarts, as a cake filling, or as a substitute for jams, jellies, or preserves. Read on for all my tips to get it right the first time!
I remember the first time I ever made citrus curd a few years back. I had found a recipe for an “easy” version: no double boiler required and I was so excited. The flavor was great, and the texture was just fine if using it in place of jam or preserves.
It’s the method I use to make my Grapefruit and Blood Orange Curd. It’s led to many other flavors combinations over the years and many, many excuses to make homemade scones. Then I tried to use that same method for making my Blackberry Lime Tart.
It was an epic failure.
Lucky for me, I have friends in the know so I had a little chat with my friend Marlee from I Just Make Sandwiches. She had six words for me: “Trust me, use the double boiler”. So I tried it, and I learned so much. Now I hope to share that knowledge with you.
How to make meyer lemon curd.
Making curd at home is not a complicated process. You just need the right combination of ingredients and the right method. Sounds simple, right? It is!
Citrus curd includes five ingredients: citrus juice, citrus zest, sugar, egg yolks, and butter. The sugar does affect the texture a bit, so while necessary for a successful outcome, it can be adjusted depending on the tartness of your fruit.
The method you use depends on how you plan to use the curd. If you are using it in place of jams, jellys, or preserves, like on scones or biscuits, you can definitely get away with a single pan method.
If you want to use it between cake layers or bake it into a tart or pie, you’ll definitely want to use the double boiler method.
The Importance of a Double Boiler
I’ll be honest. After talking to Marlee, I grumbled about having to use a double boiler instead of just using my pan. I didn’t want her to be right, but I did it her way and the difference was amazing.
While the flavor is similar to the single pan method, the texture of the double boiler version was much thicker and richer. The proof was in the straining step.
Both versions call for straining the curd after you incorporate the butter. Straining removes the zest after it’s done it’s job, but it also removes any bits of egg yolk that got too hot and cooked solid. After straining the single pan curd, I had a spoonful or two of cooked yolk and zest. The double boiler method on the other hand only had about a teaspoon of zest.
While both versions are cooked until the curd coats the back of a spoon (between 160ºF – 170ºF), the water bath of the double boiler is a much gentler heat and prevents the yolk from cooking until solid.
TL/DR: The thicker the curd, the more solid it remains when used in tarts, pies, cake layers, cupcakes fillings, and more. The more yolk that stays in the curd, the thicker the curd sets up. If you want the thickest possible curd, use the double boiler.
What if I don’t own a double boiler?
I don’t either! A double boiler is a pan in pan technique that is easily replicated in the kitchen using tools you probably already own. You need a base pan and a top pan.
The best base pan is a small saucepan. It should have sides that are tall enough hold an inch or two of water while holding your top pan correctly (I’ll get to that in a second).
The best top pan is a glass or metal mixing bowl. It should have curved sides, so that a whisk or spoon can easily scrape away all ingredients as you mix. Squared off corners can make it difficult to properly incorporate the ingredients.
My favorite top pan is the metal mixing bowl from my kitchenaid mixer. The handle makes it super easy to maneuver and the shape is ideal for whisking.
To properly fit the two together, the top pan should nestle into the top of your base pan without touching the water. One the water starts boiling it will jump up and touch the base pan and that’s okay, but if the water is touching the pan before you start cooking it will boil over and make a mess.
To use your double boiler, put an inch or two of water in the base pan and add your ingredients to the top pan. Bring the water in the base pan to a boil, but be careful not to let it boil dry.
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Meyer Lemon Curd Recipe
Rich, tart and a little bit sweet, this meyer lemon curd uses the double boiler method for the thickest riches curd possible. It’s delicious on biscuits and scones, but sets up thick enough to be used in tarts, pies, cakes, and cupcakes.
It refrigerates well for about a week and can be frozen for longer storage. While the texture appears the same after thawing out and works well in place of jam or preserves, I haven’t testing it in baking applications after it was frozen.
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- 1/2 cup fresh meyer lemon juice
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 tsp meyer lemon zest
- 4 TBSP butter - diced
- To make a double boiler use a glass or metal mixing bowl fitted over a small saucepan with an inch or two of water in the bottom. The top bowl should not rest in the water, but hover above it. Bring the water in the bottom of the double boiler to a boil.
- In the mixing bowl measure out the juice, sugar, egg yolks, and zest and whisk to combine.
- Place the mixing bowl on top of the double boiler base and heat while whisking constantly. Mixture with thicken in about 5 - 7 minutes. Curd will coat the back of a spoon when it is done.
- Remove from heat. Add in diced butter a few chunks as a time and stir until melted.
- Strain, using the back of a spoon to push the curd away from the zest.
- Place into a clean, dry jar and refrigerate at least 1 hour to thicken.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 129 Total Fat: 8g Saturated Fat: 4g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 3g Cholesterol: 108mg Sodium: 54mg Carbohydrates: 14g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 13g Protein: 1g