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A fruit curd is one of the various types of dessert sauces or spreads that was first used in the late 1800s. At that time, lemon curds were the most popular, but strawberries, apples, and raspberries were also used. Regardless of what recipe is used, making a fruit curd also typically requires sugar, eggs, and butter. When mixed and cooked all together, the resulting product is a richly flavored, creamy dessert spread.
Another common ingredient in a fruit curd is the puree or juice of the base fruit that is used for the spread. Whether or not juicing or pureeing is required depends on the choice of fruit. Butter and well-beaten eggs are added to the mixture for extra texture and flavor. For better results, fresh eggs should be used. The mixture should also not be boiled.
If the mixture has been cooked past the boiling point, the eggs will curdle and the resulting spread will not last as long as it should even if it is kept in the refrigerator. For this reason, a careful watch should be kept on the cooking mixture. If this is too tiresome a process, fruit curd can be purchased in many supermarkets, although these will most likely contain unhealthy preservatives.
Other ingredients may be added to the mixture depending on personal taste. Cornstarch or cream can also be added to make the spread creamier. The amount of sugar used can also be reduced or the sugar can be removed entirely to make the dessert spread safer for diabetics. The process for making a fruit curd will take approximately 10 minutes to complete in addition to the time spent pureeing the fruit.
Once a fruit curd has been whisked and cooked to perfection, it must be refrigerated immediately and is best served cold. In the old days, fruit curds were served as part of lemon dishes during teatime in Britain or when people were entertaining guests with scones and cakes. Nowadays, fruit curds are used as icing for cakes, filling for tart shells, and spreads for cookies. Fruit curds should not be confused with fruit jams and fruit butter. Jams made from fruits typically possess the same ingredients in a curd except for eggs, and fruit butter does not contain any butter despite its name.
The trick to making a good fruit curd, custard or pudding (if eggs are used) is to temper those eggs before blending them with the hot mix on the stove. Oh -- and also use a double boiler, even if it's a glass bowl on top of a pot of simmering water.
To temper the eggs, whisk them in a separate bowl. Get about a teaspoon of the hot mixture and while still whisking, add the hot mix into the eggs. This gently warms them.
Then, start whisking the mixture in the pot and add the eggs slowly until they are incorporated, whisking vigorously the whole time. This will help the eggs keep from getting scrambled.