Take advantage of those Meyer lemons with this small batch Meyer Lemon Curd recipe! Just enough for a small jar to go with a batch of scones – or double the recipe if you need more for cake fillings or other desserts!
As a lover of afternoon tea and as someone who’s been making Hollandaise sauce my whole life, I am absolutely astounded that I have never made lemon curd until this weekend.
“What does Hollandaise sauce have to do with it?”, you might be asking.
Let me show you.
Basic Hollandaise sauce ingredients:
- Lemon juice
- Egg yolks
Basic lemon curd ingredients:
- Lemon juice
I thought so.
You see, the foolproof way I make Hollandaise sauce is basically to make a fully-cooked savory lemon custard on the stove. I can take it off when it’s thick enough for my purposes, or if it thickens too much I can whisk in some hot water to thin it out. Refrigerated, it becomes almost like a pudding.
Or, should I say, like lemon curd.
Many recipes for Hollandaise sauce involve pouring hot butter into a blender with egg yolks and lemon, or setting up a double boiler using a bowl set over a small saucepan. But I’ve always made my Hollandaise in a Pyrex measuring cup sitting in a barely-simmering pot of water, like so.
It may be a bit unconventional, but it works like a charm, doesn’t require constant babysitting, and doesn’t trap scalding hot steam underneath your sauce.
I used the same technique for this small batch Meyer lemon curd recipe.
You just melt butter — and sugar — in the Pyrex measuring cup in just-below-simmering water. Then take it off the heat, add freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest, and then slowly pour some of the mixture into a beaten egg while whisking constantly.
Slowly pour the egg mixture back into the Pyrex cup, whisking constantly. Return the Pyrex to the pot of hot water and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until it becomes thick like custard.
The process of slowly mixing a hot liquid into an egg, before adding the egg mixture back into the remaining hot liquid, is called “tempering” the egg.
Instead of shocking a cold egg by mixing it into a hot liquid (which is how you make egg drop soup), you slowly add the hot liquid to the egg instead. This gradually warms up the egg and keeps it from scrambling, allowing you to make a creamy cooked egg dish like custard, Hollandaise sauce, or lemon curd.
Really, the only difference between the technique for making lemon curd and the strange Hollandaise sauce I learned from my mother is the addition of sugar.
How have I missed this my whole life?!
Since regular lemons are available year-round but I only have a small window to use the sweeter Meyer lemons, I decided to make a Meyer lemon curd. Meyer lemons are a hybrid of lemons and Mandarin oranges, so while they’re still tart, they are sweeter than a standard lemon.
If you don’t have Meyer lemons available, you can either add a little extra sugar to make a regular lemon curd, or mix 2/3 lemon juice with 1/3 Mandarin orange juice to make a decent substitute for Meyer lemon juice.
I found this recipe for Meyer lemon curd to get basic ratios, and then applied my own tried-and-true technique to it. This recipe also says to simmer lemon zest along with your other Meyer lemon curd ingredients, and to strain the whole thing through a fine mesh strainer after it’s thickened to get a silky-smooth sauce.
It worked like a charm and it’s so delicious I’m having a hard time not eating it straight out of the jar (ordinarily, I would, but I’m trying to save it for another recipe!)
You could also use the double boiler technique listed in the linked recipe if you’d like – basically mixing all ingredients in a heatproof bowl and setting the bowl on top of a pot of simmering water. I used the Pyrex method since it reminded me so much of the Hollandaise sauce (and it can be less intimidating than a double boiler), and it worked great!
I hate having to throw away unused lemon curd, so if you’re just having a couple friends over for tea or just eating the curd yourself, or you just need enough for a batch of scones, this small batch Meyer lemon curd recipe is the way to go. It will keep up to about a week in the fridge. If you’re using the curd for something more substantial, like filling a cake, you can double the ingredients and use the same technique.
Don’t let lemon curd intimidate you any longer! It’s so stinkin’ easy to make you’ll wish you had been doing it for years!
Want to do more with your Meyer lemon curd than just spread it on scones? Check out this collection of delicious uses for lemon curd!
Small Batch Meyer Lemon Curd
- 2 Meyer lemons
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1 egg
- Zest lemons until you have about 1 tsp zest. Then squeeze juice from lemons until you have about 1/4 cup of juice.
- Heat an inch or two of water in a medium saucepan until just below simmering. Put butter and sugar in a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup and set it in the pot. Heat until melted, stirring with a fork until smooth.
- Remove Pyrex from saucepan. Add lemon juice and zest and stir to combine.
- Beat egg in a small to medium bowl. Slowly add about half of the hot butter-lemon mixture into the egg, while whisking constantly. Then slowly pour the egg mixture back into the Pyrex measuring cup, while whisking constantly.
- Return the Pyrex to the saucepan of water. Stir occasionally with a fork, about every minute or so, making sure to scrape the bottoms and the sides of the measuring cup. In about 10 minutes or so the mixture will thicken so it coats the back of a spoon (or your fork). When the curd is thick, remove from heat and strain it through a fine mesh strainer into a jar.
- Try not to eat all the lemon curd hot out of the jar. Refrigerate until thickened.