How to Make Homemade “Key Lime” Curd
When spring and summer arrive with warmer weather, and our days are made longer by extended sunlight, we start thinking about making light or light-tasting and bright fresh fruit desserts. And, when we think of using lemon or lime curd in a fruit dessert recipe for some extra citrus kick, we tend to purchase a jar or two.
However, I am here to champion homemade citrus curd and show you how very easy it is to make with our Homemade “Key Lime” Curd recipe. All it takes is a bit of time for prep work, about a half hour of actual cooking time and some extra stirring to incorporate the butter. Furthermore, citrus and fruit curds should not be solely reserved for spring and summer as they can be enjoyed equally during winter months.
Before my first attempt to make homemade lemon curd, I was a mess…just terrified. What if it scorches? What if it curdles and I end up with lemony scrambled eggs? Even worse, what if I burn it? What if it separates? What if I fail? Oh, the horrors!
Why are we so intimidated by such an easy peasy preparation? And, why does this seemingly fancy schmancy food stuff seem only fit to serve The Queen of England?
Because we are informed about all the pratfalls of making homemade citrus curd upfront, we set ourselves up for a lack of confidence. Then, we feel the added pressure that perhaps we must plan a tea party complete with all the “proper tea” preparations, bring out our finest china and silver, serve crumpets and scones (or “strumpets” as Jim Carrey’s character, Lloyd Christmas, calls them in the film, Dumb and Dumber) and sip our teacups with our pinkies raised. Silly. All of these preconceived notions about fruit curd are just plain nonsense!
As it turns out, my first batch of lemon curd turned out just fine and I had nothing to fear. That’s right. Nothing. Fear, I believe, is the number one reason we put off doing something fun and challenging in the kitchen. I swear, I thought to myself, “That’s it? That’s all there is to it? I did it!” We all must start from scratch.
It was a good thing I started with a good, well-written and reliable recipe—one that I took the time to read through thoroughly. Like, three times. Of course, this is something Lucy, of I Love Lucy, never did. One of my favorite episodes from season one, “Pioneer Women“ (link is to video clip at Hallmark Channel website), is when Lucy misreads a bread recipe as to the amount of yeast and tries to bake homemade bread with Ethel to win a bet with the boys. A GINORMOUS loaf of bread juts out of the oven taking up nearly half her kitchen and eventually has Lucy crouched and pressed up against her lower kitchen cabinets. Hahaha!
Yes, the key to successfully making something you’ve never made before starts from scratch—first, by reading the recipe. By reading the recipe, to include all the tips and “visual cues”, you will know what to expect. Knowing what to expect will certainly put any fears to rest. Then, try visualizing making the recipe as you read. Easy peasy. Lemon squeezy.
Important Side Note: Speaking of tips, it is of utmost importance to use a heavy, non-reactive saucepan or double boiler when preparing Homemade “Key Lime” Curd—such as stainless steel (like I used), anodized aluminum or enamel—as well as a stainless steel whisk and wooden spoon (like I used). The reason is because some materials, such as plain aluminum or unlined copper, will react with the naturally occurring acid in the lemons. Invariably, this reaction will cause the discoloration of the lemon curd (turning it a chartreuse green color) and give it a distinct and off-putting metallic flavor.
For the recipe I am sharing today, I merged together Alton Brown’s methods and, for the most part, Rose Levy Beranbaum’s ingredients ratio for Lemon Curd. For beginners, I believe using a double boiler (Alton’s preferred method) is ideal as it creates a gentle and controlled environment to make the curd thus preventing any scorching or burning.
So, don’t be fearful. Embrace the opportunity to grow your culinary skillset and enjoy the challenge of making your own homemade citrus or fruit curd, by making our Homemade “Key Lime” Curd. Because, once you do (and eat it by the spoonful as I did!), you will be on Cloud Nine. Just be careful and stop yourself from eating all your homemade curd by the spoon. Or, you just may need a 12-step program!
Homemade fruit curd doesn’t have to be made from all citrus fruit. For instance, have you ever heard of raspberry curd? Strawberry curd? Well, you can make them homemade as well! Here are two great recipes from two fabulous dessert blogs and food bloggers, Laura of Tutti Dolci and Valerie of Une Gamine dans la Cuisine. Laura’s gorgeous Raspberry Curd Tart includes a recipe for homemade raspberry curd made with Meyer lemons. And, Valerie’s recipe for Strawberry Curd is sweet, with just a slight burst of lemon flavor.
What exactly is fruit curd?
Fruit curd is a dessert filling, spread and/or topping typically made with citrus juices such as lemon, lime or orange. Basic ingredients include a mixture of beaten egg yolks, sugar, fruit juice and zest which are gently cooked until thickened and cooled. The mixture forms a soft and smooth fruit flavored curd. Some recipes include egg whites and butter.
Although fruit curds are used to fill pies and tarts, they are much different from pie fillings and custards in that a higher proportion of juice and zest are used which provide a concentrated or more intense flavor. Fruit curds made with butter will have a creamier and smoother texture. Other pie fillings and custards contain little or no butter and rely on starches (arrowroot or cornstarch) or flour for thickening whereas fruit curds rely on egg yolks for thickening.
More creative fruit curds use citrus fruits such as grapefruits and tangerines as well as berries such as blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and cranberries, and tropical fruits such as passion fruit or mango—even coconut!
Here are some ways to enjoy homemade citrus or fruit curd:
As a Condiment for Breakfast
- Spread on Bagels, English Muffins or Toast with Jam and Cream Cheese
- Spread on Biscuits, Muffins, Scones or Rolls
- Swirl into Yogurt with Granola and Berries or Dried Fruit
- Topping for French Toast, Pancakes or Waffles
- Topping for Oatmeal or Porridge
In Baking & Dessert Making
- Filling for Cake Layers and Crepes
- Filling for Cookies and Macarons
- Filling for Cupcakes and Baked Doughnuts
- Filling for Mini Meringues and Pavlova
- Filling for Pies and Tarts or Mini Phyllo Tarts
- Filling for Profiteroles and Puff Pastries
- Layered Filling in Parfaits and Trifles or Napoleons
- Served with Fresh Fruit and Whipped Coconut or Dairy Cream
- Swirled into Batter for Cheesecakes
- Topping for Ice Cream Sundaes
What makes our Homemade “Key Lime” Curd wicked good?
Our Homemade “Key Lime” Curd melts in your mouth. It is creamy and smooth due to the addition of butter and bursting with citrus flavor. To create the key lime flavor in our recipe (since it is often difficult to source fresh key limes locally), we used both lemon and lime juices in a 1:1 ratio as well as all lemon zest for a consistent throughout bright yellow color. If you could taste sunshine on a spoon, our Homemade “Key Lime” Curd would be it!
Treat yourself to a homemade batch of Homemade “Key Lime” Curd to incorporate into your baked sweet treats like I did with our Key Lime Margarita Cheesecake Cake. You won’t regret it.
Below are Pinterest-friendly sized images to pin at Pinterest!
Our Homemade “Key Lime” Curd melts in your mouth. It is creamy and smooth due to the addition of butter and bursting with citrus flavor. To create the key lime flavor in our recipe, we used both lemon and lime juices in a 1:1 ratio as well as all lemon zest for a consistent throughout bright yellow color. If you could taste sunshine on a spoon, our Homemade “Key Lime” Curd would be it!
- 7 to 8 large egg yolks (about 130 grams), depending on size
- 1¼ cups + 2 tablespoons (275 grams) granulated sugar
- 2¼ fluid ounces (70 grams) freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 large lemons)
- 2¼ fluid ounces (70 grams) freshly squeezed lime juice (2½ limes)
- Pinch of kosher or sea salt
- 1 tablespoon (6 grams) finely grated lemon zest
- ½ cup (1 stick/113 grams) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pats
Add an inch or so of water to a medium, heavy nonreactive (noncorrodible) saucepan or bottom pan of a double boiler set. Bring water to a simmer over medium-high heat.
Meanwhile, in a medium sized metal bowl (or separate glass bowl) or top pan (insert) of a double boiler set, beat yolks and sugar vigorously with a whisk until smooth and well blended, about 1 minute. (Mixture will be very thick at first, just keep at it.)
Add citrus juices and salt, whisk until smooth. If mixed in separate glass bowl, scrape and pour into top pan of double boiler set.
Once the water reaches a simmer, reduce heat to low and place bowl over saucepan or top pan (insert) into bottom of double boiler. Do not allow water to touch the bottom of the metal bowl or top pan (insert) of the double boiler as this could scorch and possibly curdle the mixture.
Cook whisking constantly until thickened, about 20 to 22 minutes. The mixture will change from translucent to an opaque light yellow color and will coat the back of a wooden spoon yet still be liquid enough to pour. Do not allow the mixture to boil or it will curdle.
Remove promptly from heat and immediately whisk in lemon zest to release oils. Add butter gradually, one piece at a time, whisking well to combine. Allow each addition of the butter to melt completely before adding more.
If straining (this is optional to strain citrus zest and any coagulated egg) for a smooth curd, strain at once into a medium bowl and press strainer with the back of a spoon or rubber spatula until only the coarse residue remains. Discard residue.
Allow curd to cool; cover by laying a layer of plastic food wrap directly on top of the surface of the curd. The curd will continue to thicken further upon resting and chilling. If desired, transfer to airtight container and refrigerate.
Tips:Before juicing citrus, heat fruit for 10 seconds in microwave oven on high power. Roll between hands or on work surface, pressing lightly on the fruit. This will release a significant greater amount of juice. To prevent curdling, be sure to blend the sugar well with the yolks before adding the citrus (lemon and lime) juices. Use a double boiler (or a metal bowl placed over saucepan) with an inch or so of water in bottom pan or heavy nonreactive (non-aluminum) saucepan which conducts heat evenly. Do not allow the curd mixture to boil. Remove immediately from heat once curd is thickened and, if straining (this is optional to strain the citrus zest), strain at once as the residual heat will continue to cook the curd. If you have an accurate candy thermometer, check the temperature of the cooked curd. It should be 170ºF. Store curd covered tightly in refrigerator. It will keep up to 2 weeks. Warning: The reason why a nonreactive (non-aluminum) saucepan should be used is because aluminum will react with the yolks and turn them a chartreuse (green) color. Recipe Inspiration: Our Homemade “Key Lime” Curd recipe was adapted by recipes for Lemon Curd by Alton Brown of FoodNetwork.com and award-winning cookbook author, Rose Levy Beranbaum. Rose’s Lemon Curd recipe can be found on page 340 in the highly acclaimed cookbook, The Cake Bible (William Morrow Cookbooks; 8th edition, 1st edition September 20, 1988). We used lemon and lime juice in a 1:1 ratio as well as all lemon zest for a consistent throughout bright yellow color to create a key lime flavor profile. Recipe Source: WickedGoodKitchen.com Copyright © Wicked Good Kitchen. All content and images are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words. Alternatively, link back to this post for the recipe.
Visual Step-by-Step for Making Homemade “Key Lime” Curd