Lemon & Vanilla Curd

My Grandma’s lemon curd tarts were always one of my favourite sweet treats as a child. The sweet buttery pastry and the zingy curd were a perfect partnership and I could polish off at least three per sitting. However, I have a strong suspicion that my grandma’s curd was made by another famous double act – Marks & Spencer. Regardless of its parentage, they were still bloody delicious and I’ve had a love for lemony flavoured puddings ever since. The beauty of a curd is its versatility and ability to be made in bulk. Whether dolloped unceremoniously on top of marshmallow-like meringue, sandwiched between shortbread biscuits or smeared across a tart case – a jar of curd means you are never more than five minutes away from a good pud. Personally, I struggle to do anything with it apart from eating it straight from the jar on a spoon, which is why it’s best to do more than one jar at a time! It’s not traditional to add vanilla to a curd but I find it accentuates the buttery flavour and gives a much needed contrast to the punchy lemon.

Ingredients
Makes two small jars
6 unwaxed lemons
1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste
250g caster sugar
150g salted butter
4 large whole eggs plus one egg yolk

Method
1 – In a heatproof bowl, zest and juice the lemons and mix in the sugar. Add the butter.

2 – Create a bain marie by filling a saucepan with an inch or so of cold water and set over a low-medium heat. The pan should be big enough for the bowl containing the lemon and sugar mixture to balance on the top, but not touch the water. Heat until the butter is completely melted and combined.

3 – Once melted, whisk in the eggs and continue to heat on a low flame for approximately 10 minutes or until the mixture is thick and glossy. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and hold its shape when mixed. Take off the heat.

4 – If using fresh vanilla, halve the pod lengthways and remove the seeds. Add the seeds or the vanilla bean paste to the curd and thoroughly combine.

5 – Spoon into sterilised jars and store in a cool dark place until ready to eat. FYI I have no idea how long this will last as it never stays in the cupboard for more than a week in my house!

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