For Lemon Curd in Less Than 10 Minutes, Use Your Microwave

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Recipes for microwave lemon curd have been around since the 1980s. But it took an Instagram post in 2021 to get me to try it.

Actually, it was many posts, most of them from the chef David Chang. A committed microwave enthusiast, he didn’t make curd, but he did demonstrate other dishes — like kimchi jjigae, mashed potatoes and chawanmushi — that you wouldn’t expect could be made in a microwave.

“Think of your microwave as an energy efficient steamer,” Mr. Chang wrote about cooking rice.

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Of the 1.7 million or so times I’ve used a microwave, I’d never thought of it as a steamer. To me, it was a convenient way to reheat leftovers, melt chocolate and cook hot dogs straight from the freezer — my longtime emergency meal for my daughter.

If it could make a glorious chawanmushi, what else was it capable of?

As a lemon lover, I found my answer a few weeks later, in a post by Gail Dosik, cookie-maker extraordinaire: lemon curd, whisked together in six and a half minutes.

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This made perfect sense, playing to the microwave’s strength as what the New Yorker writer Helen Rosner so astutely described as “a brute-force bain-marie.”

The most fail-safe lemon curd recipes call for cooking the ingredients in a bain-marie (or double boiler) so they can thicken gently, without curdling. The microwave achieves this faster, and you don’t need to stand over the stove, stirring constantly.

There are dozens of similar recipes floating around online (including the one from King Arthur Baking Company that Ms. Dosik used), and this one unites elements from the best of them. It’s light and silky, bright and lemony, and just sweet enough.

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The method couldn’t be more straightforward: Just whirl the ingredients in a blender, pour into a bowl, and microwave for 5 to 7 minutes, whisking after every minute or so. Using the blender usually eliminates the need for straining at the end, but you can skip it and just whisk everything together in a bowl before cooking.

Be sure to watch the curd carefully. If you notice hot spots (where the curd is simmering rapidly), reduce the microwave’s power so the curd can cook more slowly. Microwaves vary, and some run hotter than others.

Once you nail the technique, you can substitute other citrus, swapping lime or grapefruit for lemon, and flavoring it with makrut lime leaves or Campari.

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Curd of all flavors will keep in the fridge for at least five days, if you don’t eat it all first. But even if you do, another batch is just six and a half minutes away.

Recipe: The Easiest Lemon Curd

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