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Jul 24, 2011 08:29 AM

Making Vanilla Curd

I have made meyer lemon and grapefruit curds and both are delicious. Now I'm on a mission to make vanilla curd after having gotten a jar at the grocery store. I made a batch this morning and it's very yellow. I'm sure because of the egg yolks but the stuff from the store is sort of white with the vanilla bean flecks. I like the looks of that one better. Mine tastes yummy though. Any ideas please?


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  1. Why not just make pastry cream? What are the ingredients on the jar from the store, and how is the texture different from pastry cream?

    3 Replies
    1. re: babette feasts

      Can't help with the vanilla curd (which sounds delicious, by the way), but I'd love a good grapefruit curd recipe. Can you share?

      1. re: soccermom13

        Babette, you might be on to something with the pastry cream. Ingredients on the jar are almost the same. I would just make it thicker. Thanks for the suggestion.

        Soccermom13, here is the link I used for the grapefruit curd and it was awesome.
        Thanks for the replies.

        1. re: Hanky

          Wow, Hank, that is a nice website. Just bookmarked it.

          Thanks so much and goodluck with the vanilla curd. Pls post back when you've made a version you like.

    2. To make a curd requires acid, usually lemon or lime juice and a lot of egg yolks. Even the grapefruit curd that was on the site you gave had added lemon juice because the grapefruit juice wasn't acidic enough.
      How did you make vanilla curd? Did you use gelatin or corn starch? If you did it wasn't, strictly, a curd, it was a pudding or a custard.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Hank Hanover

        If you use enough egg yolks, and finish with enough butter, can't you call anything a curd, even if it has no citric acid? Admittedly, it'll be yellow rather than white, and not look particularly vanilla-y, but technically, can't you call this vanilla curd?

        1. re: Jay F

          I agree with Hank that an acidic juice base is a definitive part of a curd, and what separates it from dairy based creme patissier and creme anglaise. The Food Lover's Companion defines a curd as 'a creamy mixture made from juice (usually lemon, lime, or orange), sugar, butter, and egg yolks. The ingredients are cooked together until the mixture becomes quite thick. When cool, the lemon (or lime or orange) curd becomes thick enough to spread and is used as a topping for breads and other baked goods.'

          1. re: babette feasts

            You thicken creme patissiere with cornstarch, and creme anglaise isn't thickened. These are their main distinctions from curd, no?

            I would *think* anything made in the manner of curd, i.e., *thickened with egg yolks and butter*, would be called curd. Though I admit, I never heard of vanilla curd before this thread (or any other non-citrus curd).

            1. re: Jay F

              Pastry cream also has egg/yolk and finished with butter.

              Disagree with Sharon Tyler Herbst if you like, she's dead and won't care, but I still value her book as a trustworthy reference.

              1. re: babette feasts

                The first reference I get when I google "Sharon Tyler Herbst creme patissiere" calls creme patissiere/pastry cream a *flour-based* egg custard.


                Thanks for the name. I'd not heard of her before. Which of her books do your recommend?


                1. re: Jay F

                  My point was that she defines curd as starting with an acidic juice. I consider the base liquid to be more definitive than the mixture of thickeners. In practice, there is a fair amount of 'creative license' in food descriptions, so we don't really know what the OP's store-bought vanilla curd was like or why they decided to call it a curd - probably just marketing? If it's next to the lemon curd on the shelf it's identifiable? I've never though 'curd' was a very sexy word, but maybe it looks better on a label than the alternatives?

                  If you were going to make vanilla curd, what liquid would you use? I would use milk, which would make it not a curd because milk is not an acidic fruit juice. I'm not sure putting milk, egg yolks, and vanilla bean in a double boiler and cooking as normal for curd would work, but I haven't tried it. There seems to be some magic of the high acid of lemon juice that prevents the egg from scrambling.

                  I don't have any of Herbst's other books, just the one.

                  1. re: babette feasts

                    I would use milk, too. If it didn't thicken up to my liking, I might try another batch with cream.

                    Before Hanky asked about "vanilla curd," I, like you, thought citrus was a defining aspect of curd. I'm willing to consider the possibility, though, that there could be something out there other than what I think I already know. To think outside the saucepan, as it were.

                    What is the one book called?

                    1. re: Jay F

                      The Food Lover's Companion
                      Comprehensive Definitions of Nearly 6000 Food, Drink, and Culinary Terms

                      I've always referred to it when writing my menus to make sure I'm not being too creative in my use of terms.

                      1. re: babette feasts

                        Thanks, Babette. I just ordered a copy. I love reference books.

      2. speaking of non-citrus curds, don't these rhubarb curd shortbread look amazing?
        i've never made them, but this thread reminded me of them and I will likely give them a try soon.

        but they do use lemon juice and imagine that the acid is probably a definitive feature of curd, as mentioned above.

        1. When I was studying custards, puddings and the like(on my own... I didn't go to culinary school), I read that a curd developed maximum thickness at a PH of below 3 or so. That's why pineapple or grapefruit curd doesn't work unless you add some lemon juice.

          That being said I may be being to detail oriented. It doesn't affect my life whether Hanky calls something a curd or pudding or a custard. I try not to get into such discussions. I guess I was just feeling critical at the time.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Hank Hanover

            LOL! I have started quite a discussion. I think you are all accurate when you say a true curd contains an acid of some sort. I was only going according to the jar I bought. The stuff is awesome. Here is a link to the product
            Thanks so much for all of the discussion.

            1. re: Hanky

              Yep... it used corn starch (modified which probably means clearjel) and Xantham Gum for the thickening agents.

          2. FYI: Sherry Yard's Secrets of Baking has a recipe for Grapefruit Vanilla Curd. (This info brought to you courtesy of Eat Your Books. Gotta love that program!)

            p.s. I know I should have underlined Secrets of Baking but I can't figure out how to do things like underline and make text bold on Chowhound.