Why Cold Butter Is Crucial For The Best Lemon Curd

Filling cupcakes, crepes, cookies, or tarts, lemon curd is a delicious, tangy spread that can make the perfect sweet-and-sour addition to many recipes. 

According to Barker's New Zealand, the original lemon curd was unlike the smooth treat we know today. The jam company states that the ingredient first appeared in England sometime in the 1800s with a much more faithful interpretation of its name, as it was made by adding lemon to cream to curdle it. The curds were then separated through a cheesecloth and enjoyed.

Today, there are a few additional ingredients added to the typical lemon curd to create that smooth, perfectly sweet — but not too sweet — spread. (Both the Food Network and Epicurious call for lemons, sugar, eggs, and butter.) But no matter what homemade lemon curd recipe you follow, don't forget to keep your butter chilled. Though it may seem unnecessary, and many recipes won't even mention it, you will regret skipping the important step.

It's all about that glossy sheen

While it may be tempting to get all your ingredients out at the same time and set up your mise en place, for perfect lemon curd you'll want to keep your butter in the fridge until right before it's time to add it in. Southern Living explains that following this step will help you achieve that perfect, glossy finish. If your butter melts or softens too much while sitting out on the counter before you add it to the curd mixture you could wind up with a more matte look. While still tasty, your lemon curd will simply not dazzle the same way one made with cold butter would. Adding one tablespoon of butter at a time will also help keep the mixture smooth, per the Associated Press.

And temperature is not the only variable to consider when adding butter to lemon curd. The Los Angeles Times states that the amount of butter added will dictate the flavor of the curd, and can be altered to fit personal preference. While less butter will preserve the tart, fruity lemon taste, adding a little extra could create a more complex flavor profile.

Regardless of the amount of butter you choose to add to your lemon curd, make sure you keep it cool until just before it is time to add it in. Once your curd has set, add the tangy ingredient to your favorite tart crust, drizzle it over pancakes, spread it on toast, or bake it into bars to enjoy the fruits of your labor!