Creamy pudding-like rhubarb lemon curd makes a great filling for desserts or as a sweet spread on toast. Believe us, it’s a lot tastier than it looks!
Oh hello, I didn’t see you there. Sorry, I was just recording some crowd noises. Now, where was I? Oh, yes, rhubarb. Lovely vegetable, er, fruit, er, whatever it is (it’s a vegetable).
We’re not yet growing rhubarb ourselves, but enough of our local farms seem to be doing so now that it’s relatively cheap and abundant. When we lived in the city, buying rhubarb always seemed to be an “either/or” proposition: we could either buy rhubarb, or we could pay our rent. We really had to have a plan for it ahead of time. That’s not the case now, and we’ll gladly buy it when it looks good, and then figure out what to do with it afterwards.
Our first batch this summer went into a crumble (eaten too fast to blog). The next batch became cocktails. Now we’re on to batch number three. We’ve already got a great recipe for lemony lemon curd, and one day Emily walked into the kitchen, eyed the pile of rhubarb, and said, “What do you think of making rhubarb lemon curd? Is that even a thing?”
It sounded pretty good, and with a little research we discovered that yes, it was a thing, but the various recipes floating around the internet seemed deficient in one way or another. Many were extremely complicated, requiring a double-boiler and an excessive number of steps. Others were insufficiently rhubarby, and if there’s one thing I require from a rhubarb recipe, it’s that it at least has the decency to taste of rhubarb. So we decided to nerd-up our own version (translation: simplify and improve flavor).
Nerd alert: We also, in our research, found out about forced rhubarb, which is, contrary to our initial expectation, not a medieval punishment involving a rack, a bottom and a large stick of rhubarb, meted out to those who devise unnecessarily complicated recipes, but is, in fact, something equally bizarre involving a shed and candles. (Mind you, it’s pretty dark in those sheds, and two years working in candlelight probably would send you a little barmy, so who knows what might go on with the rhubarb, that’s all I’m saying.)
There’s one thing I have to tell you – rhubarb lemon curd is delicious, don’t get me wrong, it’s one of the most fantastic tastes you can imagine. It’s actually almost better than the straight lemon curd, if you can believe that, since you don’t have so much of the zingy punch of lemon. It’s like a really creamy rhubarby pudding. That’s what it’s like. It’s just that … well, the color is … there’s no way around it, the color of rhubarb lemon curd is really awful.
Our gorgeous bright orange egg yolks met the vibrant pink of the rhubarb and became… kind of a a salmony beige. It’s like if you were picking a shade of house paint and you felt really depressed that day and just wanted to pick a color and go home and lie under a blanket for the rest of your life, that’s the shade you might pick. Benjamin Moore would probably call it “Bridesmaid’s Nightmare”. It’s … it’s not an attractive shade, it’s really not. But it’s delicious, and if you had fill a tiny tart with it and top them with whipped vanilla mascarpone cream and fresh berries, well, that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, now would it?.
Anyway. Here it is, Rhubarb Lemon Curd. Enjoy!
- 1 pound rhubarb (about 6-7 stalks)
- ½ cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- Wash rhubarb and trim off any leafy bits. Cut rhubarb into 1-inch pieces.
- In a small saucepan, heat rhubarb, sugar, and water on medium-low. Cook until rhubarb is completely soft and falling apart (15-20 min).
- Purée with an immersion or stand blender to make the mixture as smooth as possible. It’s perfectly useable like this but for an ultra-smooth curd, push puree through a mesh strainer (this takes a little elbow grease so feel free to skip this step). Set aside to cool. You should have about 1½ cups of strained purée.
- In a stand mixer or in a bowl using an electric beater, cream the butter. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the rhubarb purée, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt. Mix until combined.
- Note: It’s going to look like a disgusting, curdled mess at this stage. Like, seriously revolting. Do not panic. I promise you it will come together.
- Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes), stirring constantly. Don’t walk away from it as you do this part or you will have lemony scrambled eggs. The rhubarb curd will thicken at about 170 degrees F, or just below simmer.
- Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate. The rhubarb lemon curd will get even thicker as it cools.