February 6, 2012
Blood Orange Curd
Midwinter brings an abundance of citrus, even in this northern climate where nothing is growing outside. It has been very gray and lukewarm (well, really luke-cold, but much warmer than winter should be) here and the brightness of oranges, lemons, grapefruits and clementines are most welcome. It was just about this time last year that I wrote about lemon curd. Apparently early February makes me want citrus and sweetness. Citrus curd combines the sharp acidity and unmistakeable flavor of a lemon or orange with the darlings of baking: sugar, butter and eggs. When whisked together the complicated, pithy orange becomes as luxurious as a cashmere scarf, a versatile and welcome accessory to many desserts.
Lemon curd is classic, but orange, or blood orange curd reminds us to pause and really taste. The flavor of the curd is more subtle and the vibrant red juice of the orange gives it a blush of pink. I filled almond cookies and tiny meringues with blood orange curd, lemon curd or chocolate ganache turning them into decadent, if rustic, sandwich cookies. The almond cookies were perhaps too buttery and rich along with the curd, but our dinner guests had no complaints. The meringues emerged from the oven so crisp that they shattered when I took a bite. After snuggling next to a layer of curd they relaxed into soft pillows with a delicate crust. This curd can be used in many different ways, I have also been dreaming of spreading it between layers of chocolate cake.
Blood Orange Curd
This recipe is very similar to the Lemon Curd recipe, but since oranges are much sweeter, I decreased the amount of sugar. Because of this, the curd is a little softer than the lemon curd and might benefit from an extra minute or two of stirring, but either way it is sturdy enough to spread or sandwich.
3 large eggs
4 ounces sugar
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) plus one teaspoon blood orange juice
Grated zest of 3 blood oranges
6 1/3 ounces (1 stick plus 4 1/4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
To start, you will need a heatproof bowl and a saucepan large enough to hold the bowl. Fill the saucepan with water so that the bowl can rest on the pan without touching the water. Bring the water to a simmer. Place the eggs, sugar, blood orange juice and zest in the heatproof bowl and whisk to combine. Add the butter and place the bowl on the saucepan, over the simmering water. Whisk to melt the butter and continue whisking to ensure even cooking. The heat should be evenly distributed on the bottom of the bowl so that nothing will burn and the eggs won't cook too quickly. Continue whisking for about seven minutes until the mixture becomes quite thick and light.
Remove from the heat and pour the curd through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl to remove the pieces of zest and any egg that may have cooked. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.