Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A Meyer Lemon Curd Throwdown

(3-18-07: I'd been working on this overworked and over-aggrandized post, unable to reach a satisfying conclusion, for some time when I realized the problem was that I was trying to compare apples to oranges, as it were. It just can't be done. What I was trying to posit is that a no-sugar, low-fat, no cholesterol lemon curd could be favorably compared in taste to a lemon curd made with sugar, eggs and butter. And what I did was prove myself wrong. There simply is no comparison. It's not that the faux curd is bad, it's just not great, and it doesn't stand up to the real thing. With that disclaimer right up front, I give you my silly little experiment as simply that - an experiment. Do with it what you will.)

When the
box of Meyer lemons arrived in the mail from Bill and Erika a while ago, I knew I would use some of them to make lemon curd.

If you read this blog with any regularity, you will know that when it comes to desserts, or sweets in general, much as I love the real thing, I often try to lower their glycemic impact on my body by reducing (or eliminating) the amount of sugar, white flour and fat.

Now, even I know that to mess with the traditional ingredients of lemon curd borders on the sacrilegious. There's simply nothing that compares to the bright, puckery, pure lemony deliciousness that "real" lemon curd imparts to tongue and scone.

Still, sure that I could fool an unsuspecting taster, I decided to try an experiment by making two batches of curd, employing no-sugar, good-fat, no-cholesterol ingredients in one batch, and full on sugar, butter and eggs in the other. The only constants were the recipe employed (from the lovely little book "
Having Tea", albeit an earlier version than is available on Amazon now, by Tricia Foley and Catherine Calvert), the measurements used, and the Meyer lemons themselves.

Mr. CC was my willing blind-taste-testing accomplice, who wasn't informed beforehand of the ingredients lists.


The 'Real Deal' Meyer Lemon Curd
Recipe adapted from
Having Tea by Tricia Foley and Catherine Calvert
Ingredients:

3 eggs
5 tablespoon melted butter
1 cup superfine sugar
the juice and grated zest of 2 Meyer lemons


Preparation:
In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, gently whisk the eggs into the melted butter until fully combined then stir in the sugar.
Gradually stir in the lemon juice and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.
Remove from the heat and stir in the zest. Cool completely.
Pour into small, clean jars and keep in the fridge for up to a week.


Low Glycemic Meyer Lemon Curd
Recipe adapted by Christine from
Having Tea

Ingredients:
3/4 cup egg substitute (I used Lucerne's Best of the Egg)
5 tablespoons
Earth Balance Buttery Sticks

1 cup Splenda granular (for a more sugar-like taste, use 1/2 cup Splenda-Sugar Blend instead)
juice and zest from 2 Meyer lemons

Preparation:
Same method as above.

When the curds were cool enough to sample, I placed a small dish of each kind side by side and asked Mr CC to taste each one. He (unknowingly) tried the "faux" version first. He described it as creamy and sweet, a little tart, with a bit of a not-unpleasant-but-puzzling aftertaste he couldn't describe. Visually, he thought it looked different from the other curd; pale yellow and less translucent which masked the zest.

No sooner had he tried the second dish, his eyes literally popped open and a big grin settled on his face. "Tart" "Sweet" "Clean" "Outstanding!" "A long, lemony finish" were some of the ways he described this spoonful. Visually it was a clear lemon color that allowed the tiny flecks of zest to stand out.

Suffice it to say, he had no trouble picking the Real Deal Lemon Curd as his favorite. I thought he would have had a harder time choosing, which blew a hole in my experiment.

Conclusion:
1. While the faux curd cooks up and firms up just like the real curd, the taste is decidedly different. One could probably mitigate that somewhat by using
Splenda-Sugar Blend which would impart a more sugar-like sweetness and allow the tartness of the lemon to shine through.
2. If you want your lemon curd to taste like real lemon curd, you should probably make real lemon curd.
3. Once again my culinary cockiness was lowered a few notches. And I was so sure...





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3 comments:

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Christine thank you so much for such a comparison! It is always spectacular when phony wins out as it does sometimes. But it's also good to know and appreciate what can't be done!
Excellent!

sher said...

I loved this post! Sometimes you can't replace the real thing. But, if you had only served him the faux version, maybe it would have tasted better and better with each bite? But, it sure was fun to read that and see the pictures!

Sprinzette @ Ginger and Almonds said...

I've so enjoyed digging around your archives. I definitely need to spread my wings a little and try making some curd! (Thanks for the lovely comment, and link too!).
Nicki