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.
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup lime juice (approximately 2 large or 3-4 small limes)
- zest of 1 lime
- ¼ tsp vanilla bean paste
- Melt the butter in a non-reactive sauce pain over low heat.
- 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 pan with the butter and whisk until the sugar dissolves.
- Gently beat the eggs in a small bowl.
- Working one tablespoon at a time, add some of the lime juice mixture to the beaten eggs. Be sure to keep whisking so as not to scramble the eggs!
- Add the egg/juice mixture back to the sauce pain.
- over continued gentle heat, whisk the mixture constantly until a smooth curd begins to form, somewhere just below a simmer (and around 160-175 degrees).
- Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in the vanilla bean paste to taste.