For a long portion of my baking life, I was afraid of curds. Puddings, too. And candies, caramels, basically anything that involved standing in front of the stove, stirring and stirring until a specific temperature was reached. I get distracted easily, I knew I’d scorch something and then there’d be all that time and energy wasted. Because I knew this would happen, I never tried. Yay self-defeating bullshit! Then, about a year ago, I decided to be the BEST GIRLFRIEND EVER and make my guy some key lime cheesecake bars. The recipe called for key lime curd, so I put on my apron and tried not to ruin everything.
The cheesecake bars were tasty, but the absolute best thing about the recipe was the curd. I feel like a weirdo saying it was a revelaaaation but it was. Oh my goodness. Tangy and sweet and silky, it was just the essence of YUM. I ended up making a huge batch and giving it out to my family for Chrismukkah last year and I was voted best family member ever (not really) (but basically). I now make it without bothering with the cheesecake and I LOVE CHEESECAKE. It tastes so amazing with everything. Strawberries? Heck yeah. A brownie? Shut your mouth! On top of crumbled graham crackers and a mountain of whipped cream (that you obnoxiously call a deconstructed key lime pie because you’ve seen too many episodes of Top Chef)? HOLY FUCKING YES, GET IN MY MOUTH.
The best thing about this? It’s actually super freaking easy to make. Like, for real, I don’t know why I was such a dork about it before. The whole process (if using bottled key lime juice, which I do because have you ever done the whole juicing key limes thing? That is for suckers) takes approximately 20 minutes, including standing over the stove time. Believe me, surprise someone with a bowl of this stuff and they will worship you and may give you a giant bag of money (still keeping my fingers crossed on that last one). You’re welcome.
Key Lime Curd
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup su gar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/3 cup plus 4 tbsp. (or 1/3 + 1/4 cups) key lime juice (I use Nellie & Joe’s, which I buy at World Market for $4 or 5 for the big bottle)
1. Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl using an electric mixer. Slowly add the eggs and yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Pour in lime juice and mix again. Expect the mixture to look curdled, this is normal.
2. Cook the mixture over medium heat in a medium-size saucepan until it looks smooth (no longer curdled.) Increase the heat slightly and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens. Clip a thermometer to the side of the pan and cook until the mixture reaches 170 degrees.
3. Remove the curd from the heat. Transfer the curd to a bowl and press plastic wrap on the surface of the lime curd to keep a skin from forming. Chill the curd in the refrigerator. The curd will thicken further as it cools. Covered tightly, it will keep in the refrigerator for a week and in the freezer for 2 months. (But not really, because you will eat it all way before then)