Tangerine, clementine, or mandarin curd

A gentle, fragrant curd with freshly squeezed tangerines and their bittersweet zest. It was a good relaxing morning today: we listened to Drive-in Saturdays, a double-feature movie podcast by Dorian and Saoirse, Mr. Pear made me tea in my favourite mug, and I had crumpets with plenty of homemade tangerine curd.

I was also at the same time reading a Runnymede trust report from 2008 about Thai perspectives on life in Britain, so maybe it wasn’t entirely restful because I’d chosen to process some fairly heavy stuff anent Dorian and Saoirse’s friendly, considered opinions on movies, but you know, it was enjoyable. Engaging with all that is vital, especially now. It’s all good.

This is quite a soft curd: pourable and just about holds its shape. As you can see, it melts a little into hot crumpets. Curds don’t thicken that much beyond the initial cooking; for a firmer curd, lessen the citrus juice or try adding more egg yolks.  There’s a Thomas Keller recipe which uses gelatine, too, but of course that renders it unsuitable for vegetarians. It can really be adjusted to suit your tastes.

Suggestions for your citrus curds beyond breakfast spreads:

  • Stirred into yoghurt (very rich!)
  • Macaron or meringue filling, either thickened with cornflour, gelatine, or beaten into a sturdier buttercream. I made a good filling by beating equal amounts by weight of of soft butter and icing sugar, adding spoonfuls of curd to taste, followed by some vanilla and salt, and just kept on adding more of these ingredients to my liking for a nicely flavoured buttercream which held its shape.
  • In the bellies of thumbprint cookies or clasped in shortbreads
  • Swirled with whipped cream and sprinkled with something crisp, like chopped nuts, crumbled cookies, pastry, or meringues
  • Drizzled onto or sandwiched in layer cakes
  • Layered with whipped cream in a sponge or meringue roulade

TANGERINE CURD

Adapted from Felicity Cloake’s perfect lemon curd

Makes approx 1 cup/250 ml. Keeps for up to 1 week refrigerated or frozen for 1 month.

You can use other citrus, but watch the sweetness and intensity, adjusting sugar and adding lemon juice where needed.  The tangerines I got were pretty tart and rich in flavour, but other fruits may have a milder flavour; for a grapefruit curd I made, I reduced the juice by half with some lemon juice for a true grapefruit flavour. Blood oranges give their wonderful flavour to the curd, which will turn out a gentle salmon colour, or perhaps mauve if your oranges are nicely pigmented (choose the Moro variety, also a stay in the fridge brings out the colours, according to botanist James Wong).

ingredients

100g sugar
Zest from 2 tangerines (about 1 1/2 tsp, lightly packed)
1 whole egg and 2 egg yolks, or 3 egg yolks. I slightly prefer all-egg yolks.
100 ml freshly squeezed tangerine juice (from 4 – 5 tangerines, depending on size/juiciness; a bit more or less is fine)
A little lemon or lime juice–I don’t always need this, but it’s nice to have this to hand in case you want the flavour brighter
Pinch of salt
75g cold unsalted butter, diced

instructions

Carefully zest 2 tangerines into a small-medium saucepan. A microplane grater is ideal for this task, but the second-finest holes on a normal box grater works perfectly, doing just 1 – 2 strokes per section of orange. Add sugar and rub with the zest until damp and fragrant.

Juice the tangerines to yield 100 ml juice. Taste; add lemon juice to taste for brightness.

Whisk whole egg and yolks into the sugar followed by the freshly squeezed tangerine juice.

Place over a low heat and whisk until thick as pouring custard (5 – 6 minutes)–it should coat a spoon and hold a mark drawn through the back of the spoon. It’ll feel like a while, but if nothing happens after 5 minutes, increase the heat just slightly until it does, but don’t let it boil. Whisk in pinch of salt.

Remove from heat and allow to cool for just a few minutes, then start beating in the butter a few cubes at a time until completely combined and glossy. Pot into sterilised jars and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

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