The winter months are not known for their abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. After the heavy meals of the holiday season, the arrival of the mid-winter citrus crop is always a welcome addition to my kitchen. A few weeks ago I bought a giant bag of fresh limes at Costco, and while a few wound up in gin and tonics, I was left with pounds of limes and a little inspiration. Enter: Lime Curd with a Hint of Vanilla. It’s an easy, creamy, bright and versatile treat that can be added to baked goods like tarts, cupcakes or scones, or simply eaten with a spoon (my preferred method!).
Lime curd is a careful meld of butter, sugar, citrus juice, and eggs. Gently heating the eggs in the presence of sugar allows them to stay creamy and light and keeps them from scrambling. If you’re into the science of cooking, check out this article in the LA Times (from 1998!). The beauty of a citrus curd is that its proportions are forgiving. I prefer a soft, slightly more tart version so I use whole eggs, less sugar, and a moderate amount of butter. If you want a sweeter and firmer version (for use in bars or pies, for example) you can simply increase the sugar and switch to egg yolks. The key to the recipe is really to take it low and slow and be sure to temper the eggs so they don’t scramble. Let it cool and then just try to keep from eating it all at once. It’s delicious on scones and really fantastic mixed into some vanilla Siggi’s yogurt in the morning. The curd will keep in the refrigerator for at least a week and freezes beautifully.
Lime Curd with a Hint of Vanilla
This is an easy way to start a key lime pie, upgrade your yogurt, or spoon on a flaky croissant!
- 6 Tablespoons butter (unsalted)
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (approximately 2 large limes or 3-4 small limes)
- zest of one lime
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Melt the butter in a nonreactive sauce pan.
While the butter is melting, pulse together the sugar and lime zest in a food processor until combined.
Add the lime juice, sugar, and zest to the butter in the pan and whisk until the sugar dissolves.
In a small bowl, gently beat the eggs.
Working one Tablespoon at a time, add some of the lime juice/butter mixture to the beaten eggs, whisking at all times so as not to scramble the eggs.
Add the egg/lime juice/butter mixture back to the sauce pan.
Over low heat, whisk the mixture constantly until a smooth curd begins to form, somewhere just below a simmer (and around 160-175 degrees).
Remove from the heat and let cool. Add vanilla bean paste to taste.
Adding the warm liquid to the cool eggs must be done little by little or you will end up with scrambled eggs. Be careful to keep whisking until all of the mixture has been incorporated.