A Beautiful and Most Luscious New Year’s Dessert
“If Cézanne had lived not in France but in Southern California, his still lifes would have overflowed with Meyer lemons. Plump, smooth-skinned, colored an unmistakable dark yellow—canary yellow, the color of egg yolks or the sun at noon—they’re sweeter than other lemons, with an intoxicating aroma that has hints of honey and thyme.”
This praise for Meyer lemons from Amy Scattergood of the Los Angeles Times is well-deserved. Meyer lemons are exquisite in every way. They are wonderful for cakes, sauces, dressings, salads, marinades, garnishes, beverages and anywhere else you would normally enjoy lemons.
If you are not yet familiar with these lemons—a cross between a lemon and a sweet orange—this is the time to seek them out as they are most abundant during the winter months. Although their thin skin makes them poor travelers, there are now commercial growers of Meyers, making it more and more likely to find them in markets outside of California.
Meyer Lemon Curd
Just before Christmas my husband and I were most generously gifted with a bag of Meyer lemons from the very prolific tree of a friend in California’s Napa Valley. Within 24 hours I had zested and squeezed two of them to prepare Meyer Lemon Curd to have for dessert on Christmas Eve.
Curd is quickly and easily prepared from the juice and zest of lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines or possibly even grapefruits. Though, my personal favorite is lemon curd, and most especially when made with Meyer lemons. Curd is British by birth and makes for a lovely spread on toast or scones or pound cake. I have also used it as a cake filling either by itself or with the addition of lightly sweetened whipped cream. Curd also makes a delicious tart filling that is wonderful with fresh berries.
As you can see from the photo, this is a beautiful dessert that is perfect for New Year’s Eve or actually any time of year. This recipe is a bit less rich than most, as the traditional all egg yolks are replaced with whole eggs, and all the refined white sugar with half as much of a local, mild-tasting clover honey. Even so, it remains a high-calorie treat with all of the delicious butter (no substitute there).
Lemon Curd, Maple Pecan Shortbread, Raspberry Puree and Fresh Blackberries
Curd can also be made with oranges, limes and regular supermarket lemons. With less acidic Meyer lemons and oranges use the larger amount of zest and the lesser amount of honey. With limes and regular lemons use the lesser amount of zest and the larger amount of honey.
2 whole eggs
1-2 tablespoons zest from organic fruit
1/3 cup fresh-squeezed juice
1/3 to ½ cup mild-tasting honey
3 ounces butter cut into walnut-sized pieces
Whisk all except the butter together in a medium stainless steel bowl. Place the bowl in a pan of simmering water, a bain-marie.
Whisk continuously for about 3 minutes (don’t walk away from the pan for even a moment) until the bubbles and foam subside and the mixture thickens and forms a ribbon on itself when you lift the whisk (this could take anywhere from 3-10 minutes depending on the beginning temperature of your ingredients and the heat of your water). Alternatively, you can use a double boiler.
Remove the bowl from the water and whisk in the butter a few pieces at a time. Pour the curd into a container, cover and refrigerate for a week at the very most.
1 12-ounce package frozen, unsweetened raspberries
1 tablespoon mild-tasting honey (optional)
Defrost the frozen raspberries and place them in a blender with the honey. Blend about 1 minute. Pour through a fine strainer, pressing out the liquid though not so hard as to press seeds through the strainer. Pour into a container, cover and refrigerate.
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