Memorial day weekend in New York city: after an unseasonably rainy month of May, summer heat has finally rolled in; it’s sultry out. On the stoops of Bushwick, locals hide in spots of shade, sipping iced drinks. The streets have already taken on that sticky summer slowness, as if the world is mired in molasses. Somewhere someone’s having a barbecue. The scent of wood smoke wafts down the road.
Lemons are a winter fruit, but lemons feel like summer to me… like tart little globes of sunshine. They give me visions of cold cold glasses of lemonade, frosted with drops of water. On hot summer days, I want all the lemons: lemon curd, lemon bars, lemon cake… lemon juice on my salads, lemon everywhere! So as I woke to this first heat of summer, warm morning rays crept through my curtains whispering of lemons — and I suddenly remembered how I’d always wanted to make a vegan lemon curd.
I’m not vegan, or vegetarian — though sometimes I aspire to be. My housemate Ilana tells me that I’m a reducetarian, a word I didn’t know existed until until I moved to New York city. Either way, exploring alternative ingredients and cooking methods, like those you find in vegan and vegetarian cuisine, is a lot of fun: limitations foster creativity.
Stepping out for a moment into the muggy New York heat to buy ingredients, I feel immediately wilted, like a cut flower, the saddest little blond human cut flower. Perfect conditions for standing over a stove top, stirring a pot of lemon curd as it thickens? Not exactly, but the air-conditioning is on and it will all be worth it when I have some tangy chilled jars of lemon curd to dig into (and spoon over everything).
This lemon curd is thick, creamy and delicious — everything lemon curd should be, vegan or otherwise. Serve it plain or topped with fruit. It’s excellent spread on scones or spooned over pancakes, waffles or french toast. Try it as topping for (vegan or non-vegan) yoghurt or ice cream or as a filling for pastries such as layer cakes, doughnuts or pies. For sweet and tangy start to the day, go wild and dollop some on your morning oatmeal!
As a guideline, I used 4 average-sized lemons, which gave me just the right amount of juice and more zest than I needed. I definitely recommend investing in a microplane zester; it really takes the pain out of zesting.
After storage, a film may form across the top of the curd — just stir the curd to break that up. The curd is at its best when consumed within 4–5 days of preparation, but will keep if refrigerated for up to 7 days.
- 1 can (414 ml) coconut cream
- ½ cup (125 ml) maple syrup
- ¾ cup (180 ml) lemon juice
- 3 tbsp (45 ml) lemon zest
- ¼ cup (60 ml) arrowroot starch
- 2 tsp (10 ml) natural vanilla essence
- 2 pinches salt
- Place coconut cream and lemon zest in a small pot, and whisk together.
- Separately, mix lemon juice and arrowroot together until you have a smooth suspension without any visible powder
- Add lemon juice mixture to the coconut cream mixture. Add maple syrup and vanilla essence. Whisk until well combined.
- Bring the mixture to a low simmer over a medium heat, whisking constantly. Once bubbles form, reduce the heat to medium-low and continue whisking. Occasionally scrape the bottom of the pot with a spoon or spatula to ensure the curd isn’t sticking.
- When the curd is thick and wobbly, forming soft peaks when you spoon some over the top of the mixture, remove from the heat and leave to cool for 10 – 15 min.
- Whisk a final time, transfer the curd to a glass jar or plastic container and cover with a lid or plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate for 4 – 5 hours, or until chilled and set.