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Sweeten It Up With Curds

You can bet Little Miss Muffet had more than cheese on her mind when she went through the spider ordeal. She was probably dreaming of sweet fruit curds to spread on her scones and muffins when her snack came to a halt. These delicious spreads are amazingly easy and tastily replace jams, jellies, and fruit butters.

LIME MASCARPONE TRIFLE
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon lime peel
2 Tablespoons lime juice
2/3 cup water
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup butter, cut up
2 (8 oz.) pkgs. mascarpone cheese, room temperature (may substitute cream cheese if unable to find)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 (11 oz.) frozen pound cake, thawed and cubed
1/2 cup orange juice, pear juice, or peach juice

In medium saucepan, stir together sugar, cornstarch, lemon peel, lemon juice, lime juice, lime peel, and water. Stir over medium heat until thickened slightly and bubbly. Stir whisked egg yolks into small amount of juice mixture (about 1/2 cup) to temper and prevent eggs from curdling. Return to juice mixture and cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a gentle boil. Cook 2 minutes more and turn off heat. Add cut-up butter. Whisk until blended and cover with plastic wrap. Chill 2 hours.

Beat softened cheese, 3/4 cup sugar, and milk with a wooden spoon until smooth. Layer pound cake, fruit juice, cheese mixture, and curd in that order. Repeat layers and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves 8.

BLUEBERRY CURD
8 oz. blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup unsalted butter, diced
1-1/4 cups superfine sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten

Place blueberries in covered saucepan with one tablespoon of water; cook gently, shaking the pan occasionally, until very soft, about 10 minutes. Press through fine sieve into heat-proof bowl or top of a double boiler, then stir in the butter and sugar and put over saucepan of gently simmering water. Do not allow the bottom of the bowl to sit in the water. Heat gently, stirring, until sugar has dissolved and butter has melted.

Strain in eggs slowly and continue to stir over gently simmering water until curd thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon, which should take 30-40 minutes. Stir only occasionally at first, more frequently as the cooking progresses, then constantly toward the end so that the curd cooks evenly and does not curdle. The water must not boil.

Strain curd into a container. Refrigerate after opening. Use within a week. Makes 1 cup.

PINEAPPLE CURD & POUND CAKE
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup pineapple juice
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 large eggs
2 Tablespoons butter

Combine first three ingredients in medium, heavy saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Stir in juices and eggs; bring to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with whisk. Reduce heat and simmer one minute or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add butter, stirring gently until butter melts. Spoon mixture into medium bowl; cool. Cover and chill for at least six hours or overnight (the mixture will thicken as it cools).

Serve with your favorite pound cake with sliced bananas. Makes 2-1/2 cups.

PEACH CURD
4 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup fresh peach pureé
Lemon juice to taste, about 1 Tablespoon
1/2 teaspoon rosewater
6 Tablespoons butter, cut up

Beat egg yolks with sugar, peach pureé, lemon juice, and rosewater. Place over simmering water and stir constantly until thickened. Remove from heat and beat in butter, a little at a time. Strain well and chill. Great when served on biscuits or over spoonbread. Makes 2-3 cups.

CLASSIC LEMON CURD
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
5 large egg yolks

Melt butter in saucepan and add zest, sugar, and lemon juice. Cook and stir until sugar dissolves. Whisk in beaten egg yolks and cook over very low heat, whisking constantly, and cook until thickened. This will take about 20 minutes. Cool and spread between favorite cake layers or fill tarts and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes 2-3 cups.

Coming Next Month: Housewarming Dishes

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