Lemon Curd Thumbprint Cookies

Lemon Curd is awesome but it can also be a little weird and definitely frustrating.  It's awesome because it tastes like heaven, sunshine, sugar and a fierce left hook all got mashed together, pureed and then poured into a jar.  Lemon Curd is a little weird because it's called 'curd' and it's this in between consistency.  If it's too thick then it's like creamy coloured lemon jello if it's too runny then it's lemon sauce.  The word 'curd' is a word that would not think to use in reference to anything creamy, smooth and liquid.  I just think of cheese.  Finally lemon curd is frustrating because it's like a 'make-work' project.  You can't just have lemon curd.  It's always made to go with something.  You can serve it on the side.  You can make ice cream out of it (so I'm told).  You can bake it into something.  But you just don't eat it plain right off the spoon.  It's simply not done.

This is why it makes perfect sense that I made lemon curd all by it's little lonesome on a school night.  It's completely logical that I would make lemon curd before I made anything else for the Christmas holidays.  Bad enough it was already the 20th of December but now I'm making lemon curd which only means that on another day I've got to make something else to go with it.  And a huge FYI for you: make sure that you check a lemon curd recipe before you go purchasing lemons by the case.  I now have 6 lemons (and big ones too) that will need to be used up over the next few days.
The up side is that lemon curd is easy to make.  Super easy.  So easy it's dumb.  So easy I could run on the spot and still make lemon curd.  The other upside (because there must be two upsides) is that I did make it just before the last day of school.  That means that time was on my side in terms of getting some lemon curd side dishes going.  This recipe for thumbprint cookies used up almost half of the recipe but that still leaves me with 1 jar and a little in another still to go.  So if you don't want lemon curd clanging around in your fridge then you could try halving the recipe.  I, for one don't mind the lemon stuff clanging around.  I might even make up another batch and give some away for gifts.  I also have a lemon curd pound cake idea eating a hole in my brain.
You might have noted that I've not said much of anything in this post.  Where, you might ask, are all of your witty anecdotes.  Where are all of your socially poignant comments.  What has happened to the sarcastic commentary.  When will we see another post of substance from you.  I know, I'm thinking the same thing.  I'm a little challenged in the getting enough sleep department.  And that coupled with wondering whether I should change my home address to work has made me a little dry in the coming up with awesome post ideas department.  Am I upset by the happenings of the last 2 weeks... Yup.  More than I care to admit.  I'm also frustrated.  So frustrated that although these incidents keep happening over and over that nothing and I mean absolutely nothing gets done.  Nothing gets changed. All anyone seems to do is argue their point.  The same points they've had since forever. Sometimes you gotta review a situation and realize that even though you thought that your original choice was good you've brought things home and lived with it for a while and you realize that your choice actually sucks.  Then you change your mind and hopefully you can do something about altering your original choice.  Doesn't mean you're a bad person just means that you're an honest one.  Change isn't always bad and in my experience it's usually just what the Doctor ordered.

I'm at home today with my family.  I'm so happy to be in the country that I live in.  I'm so happy that I'm not afraid of what lies outside my door and that I don't feel like I need to take defence into my own hands.  I'm so thankful.  I'm getting ready to sleep again because I'm officially on break and I might have a cookie or two while I'm on my way...

Lemon Curd Thumbprint Cookies adapted from Martha Stewart 'Cookies'
makes about 2 dozen

Lemon Curd:
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 eggs at room temperature
3 egg yolks at room temperature
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
generous pinch of salt
2 tbsp corn starch

Combine the sugar, butter, eggs, egg yolk and salt together.  Beat for about 1 minute until creamy and smooth.  Add in the lemon juice (if it curdles don't worry it will smooth out when it's heated) and continue beating for another minute or so.
Pour into a heavy bottomed saucepan and heat over med/low heat.  Once the mixture heats up turn it down to low.  Mixture should thicken well but add a little corn starch if you would like it thicker.  Mixture is ready when it can evenly coat the back of a wooden spoon and hold a line when you run your finger across it.
Remove from heat and cool completely.

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
icing sugar

Combine the flour and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
Beat together the butter and sugar until light, creamy and fluffy.  Add in the egg and vanilla and continue to beat until well incorporated.  Add the flour/salt mixture and mix just until combined.  Refrigerate dough for 2 hours.
After 2 hours remove the dough from the fridge.  Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment or a silicon liner.
Form the dough into balls about 1 1/2 - 2 inches in diameter.  Place them on the cookie sheet and press a little well into the centre of each.  You can use a finger or an implement (Martha suggests the handle end of a wooden spoon).
Bake for about 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and press the cookies down in the middle once more and then bake again for another 5 - 6 minutes or until the cookies are only just turning golden on the bottom.
Remove from the oven and cool completely (press into the well a little if you need to).
Sprinkle the completely cooled cookies with a little sifted icing sugar and then spoon about a tbsp of lemon curd into the well of each cookie.

Cranberry Swirl Bread

Even though it feels like spring here in Toronto it really is just a few days away from Christmas and only a couple of days from the winter solstice aka the end of the world as we know it.  Cool.  I'm biking to and from work consistently and I'm contemplating planting the garlic cloves that I forgot about earlier in the fall.  It's that warm.
Still, it's the holiday season.  I know that because I feel like I haven't come up for air in a very long time.  I've lost what feels like days and days inside of concert halls.  Concert halls are weird places.  You lose track of everything in concert halls.  There are usually very few if any windows.  Most have none.  It's like time stands still in those places.  It's like a time vacuum.  It's weird.  I know it's the holidays because The Mall near my work is oozing with people carrying bag after bag.  I know it's nearing Christmas because there are little presents sitting on my desk each day at work from one of the boys that I teach.  I know it's the holidays because I'm going to pick up my christmas ham in a couple of days.
Up to a couple of days ago I hadn't baked anything Christmas like at all.  Nothing.  No white chocolate (a near abomination at any time of year anyway).  No cranberries.  No red or green sprinkles. (which are surprisingly hard to find BTW) However, I had a couple of spare hours in between sleeping and concerts so I decided to get creative.

This recipe didn't quite turn out the way I had imagined.  It's a little more brown than I might have liked but that's due to the whole wheat flour.  It's a little less sweet than I might have liked but that's due to the fact that I halved the sugar content - you could change that if you feel so inclined.  It's got no lemon juice in it due to the fact that I had no lemons only some zest that I had frozen a little while ago.  It has no topping, no glaze, no streusel.  I did mention earlier that I only had a couple of spare hours and the topping was the first thing to go.  So given the fact that the whole thing turned out so differently than expected I'm happy with it.  It's a brown, not too sweet way to add some cranberry to your christmas diet.  If you don't have cranberry and would prefer to use jam instead then go for it.  If jam is not your thing than throw in some frozen blueberries or even dried cranberries.  That would be fine.  Toasted nuts of some kind or even candied nuts.  Yup.  That would be fine too.  I would stay away from the white chocolate on this one.  That would not be fine at all.

Cranberry Swirl Bread generously adapted from 'In Praise of Leftovers'
makes 1 large loaf

2 cups cranberries, quartered
1/4 cup + 2 heaping tbsp sugar
3 tbsp water
dash of salt
1/2 inch piece of cinnamon
1 star anise
1 clove
1 tsp lemon zest

Combine all ingredients and simmer down for about 15 minutes or until the mixture is quite thick but still spreadable/pourable.  Set aside to cool slightly.


1 cup whole wheat flour or red fife
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup melted butter
2 eggs (use 3 eggs if you are skipping the egg white option)
2 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
3 egg whites (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease and flour a large loaf pan (don't use a smallish/med one like I did and then have a bunch spill over into your oven) and set aside.
Combine the whole wheat and all purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Mix together and set aside.
Combine the melted butter, eggs, lemon zest, honey, sugar, buttermilk and vanilla.  Whisk together until thoroughly combined and set aside.
Whip the egg whites (I used a hand mixer) until fairly stiff and can hold a peak.  Set aside.
Add the butter and egg mixture to the flour mixture and whisk together until they're fully incorporated.  Add in the egg whites and continue to whisk gently until they're fully incorporated into the batter.
Pour a third of the batter into the prepared tin.
Add about 6 tbsp of the cranberry jam on top.  Gently spread it evenly.  Pour another third of the batter on top and then another 6 tbsp of the jam spread evenly over that.  Finally pour the last bit of batter over the jam.  Take a chop stick or knife and stick it into the batter top to bottom and run it end to end once.
Bake for about 50 - 60 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then finish cooling on a rack.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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