What is a fruit curd?
Curd is an unfortunate word. It sounds slightly dirty and entirely unappetizing. I think the person who named it curd was someone who loved this flavored mixture of butter, egg yolk and sugar so much that he didn’t want to have to share it, thus the repugnant name. Because the reality of curd is anything but potty mouth slur it sounds like as it slides off your tongue. Curd is most commonly flavored with lemons but there’s no reason you can’t change it up. In fact, my favorite curd isn’t made with citrus at all, it’s Passion Fruit Curd.
Passion fruit curd is a recipe for texture junkies
I think Passion Fruit Curd might be the world’s most perfect food. Not too sweet or too tart, it has intensity and a lingering tang. It has a texture as creamy as small batch ice cream, without the shock of cold. If you’re like me, you will just eat it by the spoonful. But, of course, it’s meant to be smeared on scones. I also use this recipe as a spread on whole grain toast, as a layer in vanilla cakes, to flavor plain yogurt and to disguise dry muffins and other baked goods that are starting to go stale. Passion Fruit Curd really is the perfect food, except for the name, of course.
The technique to making a fruit curd
The technique for making curd is a little intimidating the first couple of times. Don’t be afraid! Once you get the hang of it, the process of making curd becomes a rewarding experience of its own. The constant, gentle whisking is hypnotic, meditative. It gives you time to shut down and concentrate on nothing but you and the metal tool at the end of your hand.
The trick to a good curd, this Passion Fruit Curd or any curd, is patience. You must make sure your mixture isn’t too hot before you add the eggs. (If you add them too quickly, you can scramble them and wind up with tiny chunks of egg in your curd.) And you must stir until it thickens. It really doesn’t take that long but if you give up too soon, your mixture will never achieve that creamy texture that gives curd it’s seductive appeal.
Passion Fruit Curd
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup unsweetened passion fruit puree (sold at specialty food retailers or online)
- pinch of salt
- 4 oz unsalted butter cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- Add an inch of water to the bottom pan of a double boiler or a small saucepan and heat to a simmer.
- Add the top half of the double boiler or use a metal bowl that fits rests in the saucepan with the bottom of the bowl above the level of the water. (Your bowl cannot be touching the water or your eggs will cook too quickly.)
- Turn the heat to medium and add the egg yolks, sugar and passion fruit puree to the bowl. Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to thicken. (Test it to see if it coats the back of a spoon. When it does, it’s done.)
- Remove the bowl from the heat and add the salt and the butter, one cube at a time. Stir each cube until it melts before adding the next.
- Stir vigorously for about one minute after the last cube is added.
- Let the curd cool to room temperature before transferring to a storage container.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
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