Life is complicated. I like it that way. Breakfast—or, if you prefer, dessert—is no exception. And that's why I don't mind telling you that fruit curd is one of my very favorite foods, even though I hardly have any interest in eating it.
About five years ago I got my hands on Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking, which is cleverly organized around master recipes (such as basic lemon curd and chocolate ganache) that can be used in or altered to make a wide variety of derivative desserts. It was an accessibly science-y cookbook before such books became commonplace, and I was instantly smitten.
I made the lemon curd as a filling for mini tart shells, which I served as a party dessert. The curd was such a hit with family and friends that I even eventually forgave the author for sending my first stand mixer to its untimely death with some faulty brioche-kneading instructions. (Kitchen-Aid's generous exchange policy didn't hurt, either—but that's a story for another day.)
The more I made that lemon curd, the more people loved it. They loved it so much that I started giving it as gifts, and then writing about giving it as gifts. (You can find the lemon curd recipe at that link, if you'd like it.) Soon other people started writing about my giving lemon curd as gifts (seriously—apparently people have less to do than I realized). Pretty soon the fact that I'm not all that interested in actually eating lemon curd seemed even less important than it originally had. See? Life is complicated.
This grapefruit-vanilla curd is my adaptation of one of the derivative recipes in the book. It's an elegant use for a bit of the season's best grapefruit and a Meyer lemon or two; and if you haven't caught on yet, it makes a lovely hand-made hostess or birthday gift. To tell the truth, I like it even better than the lemon curd. I like it so much, in fact, that I might even consider eating it.
Adapted from The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard.
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons grapefruit zest (grated on a rasp)
- Seeds scraped from 1/4 vanilla bean
- 3 large eggs
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, from about half a large grapefruit
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, from about 1 large lemon (use Meyer lemon if you can)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
Pour one inch of water into a medium pot that accommodates your heat-proof glass bowl without letting it touch the water's surface. Bring water to a simmer over medium heat.
In a food processor or mortar and pestle, combine the sugar, grapefruit zest, and vanilla seeds, and pulse or mash until well combined and very fragrant.
Combine the grapefruit sugar, eggs and egg yolks in the heatproof bowl. Whisk together for one minute to distribute the sugar. Place the bowl over the pot with simmering water and whisk constantly for about 30 seconds, or until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the grapefruit juice and lemon juice and cook, whisking frequently, until the curd reads 170° F and has the consistency of sour cream, about 10 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat.
Whisk in the pieces of cold butter one by one until they are completely incorporated. Strain the curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Serve as a condiment with scones or toast for breakfast, or spooned into tart shells for dessert. Will keep, tightly covered, in the fridge for up to two weeks, or frozen for several months.
Food processor (optional); Candy or instant-read thermometer; Medium, heat-proof glass bowl