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When it comes to fruit-based desserts, I’m a sucker for lemon. I love the tart, bright flavor that just screams warm weather and fun. Layered desserts are great because they’re usually pretty easy (and they’re pretty), plus you can make as many layers as you want, depending on the size, and you can make dessert for 2 or 20 almost as easily.
This recipe includes my all-time favorite lemon curd recipe. It’s very tart, as there is 1 full cup of lemon juice and only 1/2 cup of water. If you wanted to adjust the tartness, you can increase or decrease the lemon juice and water, but in the end, you want 1 1/2 cup of liquid total.
1 cup lemon juice
1/2 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 tsp flour
3 tbs corn starch
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbs butter
4 egg yolks
Zest of 1 lemon
1-2 sleeves Love, Cookie Lemon Coolers
Place the lemon juice, water, sugar, flour, corn starch and salt into a pan. You want to make sure that whatever pan you use is not aluminum, as it will react with the lemon and turn the curd into a funny green/brown color. There’s nothing wrong with it, outside of being not very appealing to eat. I will sometimes add a few drops of yellow food color. It’s not necessary, but it will be a very light, clear-ish color without it. And I’ve found that it confuses people. You eat with your eyes first, and we want the color to match the bright lemon flavor.
Before you place the pan on the stove, go ahead and zest your lemon into a bowl and throw the 2 tbs butter in there as well. Have a strainer ready to go over it. We’re going to strain the mixture into this so the zest doesn’t get strained out but any egg bits will. Have your egg yolks ready in a small bowl as well.
Whisk all ingredients together over medium heat. Continue whisking and it will thicken. You don’t want anything to stick to the bottom of the pan. Once the mixture has thickened, temper your egg yolks.
To do this, simply spoon some of the warm mixture into the eggs. Stir well and then dump this back into the mixture. The egg yolks are going to thicken the curd and give it a lovely smooth texture.
Return the pan to the heat and continue whisking and cooking the mixture.
Cook until curd has developed a thick consistency. You will begin to feel resistance as it thickens. This usually takes about 5 minutes (depends on how high you have your temperature). Pour into bowl with strainer.
Under the strainer is the lemon zest and butter (or you could just add it on top once everything is strained). While the curd is warm, it’s very runny, but once it’s cool, it will thicken more and take on a pudding-like consistency.
Place plastic wrap directly onto the curd, leaving no space for air (this prevents a skin from forming) and put it into the fridge for a few hours to chill. You can make this several days in advance if you want to get it out of the way. If you do this, and the curd separates a bit, just give it a good stir – it’s still yummy!
When you’re ready to make the dessert, get the curd, whipped cream and cookies ready. These Lemon Coolers from Love, Cookie are a buttery, delicious cookie all by themselves, but layered with these other flavors makes for a wonderful dessert.
Start with a layer of cookies….
Followed by a layer of curd…
Then a layer of whipped cream…and repeat! (I usually make my own whipped cream from scratch, but I was going for a little less effort and mess in this dessert.)
You can serve these immediately or a day or two later. The longer they sit, the softer the cookies will become. Usually I like the crisp contrast so I eat mine within a few hours.
These are pretty enough to be a formal dessert but easy enough that you could serve them as an after-school snack.