Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lemon Curd with Fresh Berries, a Taste of Bittersweet

SSSal and I have made our share of moves. Over the years we've lived five different states, all in the north and except for Minnesota, all east of the Mississippi. No, we're not part of the Federal Witness Protection Program; all the moves have been work related.

Before Crab Cakes 1 & 2 showed up the moves seemed easy enough. Sure, it's tough to leave friends, but you always assume that you'll stay in touch. Besides, there's something adventurous about pulling up stakes and heading someplace unknown. Your windshield is your future, the rear view mirror your memories.

We've made good friends everywhere we've been. While the internet has made it easier, there's still only 1 or 2 couples that we stay in touch with from any given locale. The excitement of moving is still there but it gets harder as the list of friends your leaving gets longer. Bittersweet is the silence inside a car as you back out of a driveway for the last time.

Bittersweet. Today's recipe fits the bill. Like seemingly all desserts, it's a bit involved. It requires the maceration of fresh berries. Maceration, besides being a word that teenagers and immature CrabbyCooks snicker over, is the process of marinating fruit in sugar and sometimes alcohol. The goal is to get the sugars to gently break down the fruit so that it starts to gives up its juice while retaining some of its shape. Neat trick, huh?

Lemon Curd with Macerated Berries served in hand made goblets. CaryHillCutie, a friend from Minnesota, made the pictured goblets in her pottery class. They don't change the way dessert tastes, but they do bring back memories of spectacular dinners past. Enjoy.

Lemon Curd with Fresh Berries
inspired by Baking with Julia, Dorie Greenspan (with help from SSSal)

4 large eggs
1 cup sugar (super fine if available)
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 stick (2 oz) room temperature, unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 cup whipped cream

Put the eggs and sugar into a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip at high speed until light and fluffy. While the machine is still whisking, add the lemon juice and grated zest.

The curd is prepared using a double-boiler. If you don't own a double-boiler take a medium sized saucepan and add 2" - 3 " of water and bring to a simmer. Then use a stainless steel mixing bowl placed on top of the saucepan making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water below.

Transfer the mixture to the top half of the double-boiler.

You must continuously whisk the mixture while it's cooking!!! This step requires time and effort. The mixture will become smooth, thick and custardlike. Estimated cooking time: 3 - 7 minutes.

Once the custard has set up, remove from the heat and whisk in the butter pieces one at a time until fully incorporated.

Scrape the mixture into another bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Important Hint: Push the plastic wrap down onto the surface of the custard and press out any air bubbles. This will prevent the top from getting "rubbery".

Refrigerate until completely chilled and set.

When curd has set. Incorporate the cup of whipped cream into the curd. Scoop into individual servings and spoon on a dollop or two of macerated berries.

Macerated Berries

2 cups of your favorite berries (rasp-, straw-, blue- and blackberries all work well)
1/2 cup sugar
1 TBSP lemon juice
1 TBSP Grand Marnier Orange Flavored Liqueur (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring gently. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. Gently mix just prior to serving.

OK crablings, I know what your thinking, "double-boilers, mixers, constant whisking", this is just way too much work. Well I concede that the work is intense, especially when you're whisking over the double boiler, but the results are worth it. Besides, those of you who've been coming here for the last six months are ready to step up your game.

Life and cooking can be bittersweet, but remember, you can do it, you can cook.


Anonymous said...

Step up your game and serve this yummy dessert with spirits and not wine. Fill a small brandy snifter with crushed ice, add a shot of Eau du Vie from any of the same berries you are serving and Voila. Fabulous flavors and the possibility of a hangover. Eau du vie, translates to water of life. It takes about 40 quarts of raspberry juice to make one quart of raspberry eau du vie. It is usually 90 proof or higher and is essentially white lightning made from fruit. Framboises is raspberry, poire is pear and myrtille is close enough to blueberry. If you want something sweet with this dessert, try and find Belle de Brillet, a sweet pear liqueur in a pear shaped bottle. But huge WARNING, this is the most delicious liqueur in the world, if you like the taste of pears. Expect to spend about $50 a bottle for any of the above.


Jersey Girl Cooks said...

Just found your blog from Finest Foodies Friday(Leftover Queen). What a nice blog you have. This dessert looks delicious and great for summer! said...

Hi Lisa,

Thanks for the kind words. I hadn't realized that I'd been featured on Finest Foodies Friday!!

Anonymous said...

What a gorgeous looking dessert. said...

Thanks for the good words K-God, it's definitely an "adult" dessert, just tart enough, just sweet enough.

I (vaguely) remember having some of the pear liqueur that WWBob recommends. However, I clearly, painfully recall the headache of the next morning.

Forewarned is forearmed.