Strawberry curd and almond cookies

Strawberries are back in season! Strawberry curd makes an elegant and unique dessert. Spread it on toast or almost any other baked good, use it to fill a cake, or pair it with buttery almond cookies.

The Runaway Spoon
This lovely pink curd bursts with strawberry flavor. Pair it with with almost any baked good or these delicate almond cookies.

Strawberry season was a bit slow to come this year, but I am now gorging myself on the in-season fruit and finding all sorts of ways to incorporate the ruby gems in my cooking. And this is a new favorite. It combines the flavor of beautiful local fruits and memories of England, and anything that can do that makes me happy.

Lemon curd has always felt like a luxury food to me. It was a fancy British import, sold in little jars and not readily available in Memphis, Tenn., where I live. In fact, when I first started traveling to England, I probably brought jars back for my mother and grandmother as little gifts. Eventually I learned that lemon curd is pretty easy to make at home, and so much fresher and better, which led to the obvious experimentation with curds of other flavors. And I think strawberry may be my favorite. It’s a lovely pink color and bursts with strawberry flavor.

Strawberry curd is wonderful spread on toast or good English muffins. Or for the full English experience, on a tender scone. It also makes a wonderful filling for a cake. I decided to pair it here with these delicate little almond cookies because for a lovely and interesting dessert. I’ve scooped the curd into little 4-ounce Mason jars and placed it on a plate surrounded by cookies as a nifty little individual sweet. It also works as a dip for a spring shower or brunch.  

Strawberry curd
Makes 2-1/2 cups

8-1/4 ounces strawberries, hulled

1-1/4 cups sugar

Zest and juice of one small orange

Zest and juice of one medium lemon

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cubed and at room temperature

4 eggs

1. Place a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl and set aside close to the stove top. Puree the strawberries in a blender until very smooth.

2. Pour the strawberry puree into a medium sauce pan and add the sugar, citrus zest, and juice (about 1/4 cup juice). Whisk to blend and add the butter pieces. Beat the eggs well in a small bowl, then whisk them into the strawberry mixture until combined.

3. Place over medium heat and stir constantly until the butter is melted. (Note: It’s best to switch to a heatproof spatula here to be able to scrape the sides and reach the edges of the pan). Continue cooking until the curd is thickened, about 6 to 8 minutes, stirring constantly.

4. Scrape the curd immediately into the strainer set over the bowl. Push the curd through the strainer to remove any cooked egg or lumps. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the surface of the curd and refrigerate until cold, at least two hours. Transfer to an airtight container. The curd will keep refrigerated up to a week.

Almond cookies
Makes about 3 dozen

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1/2 cup almond meal (or very finely ground almonds)

1-1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until combined. Beat in the almond meal and almond extract, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the flour, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently, until the dough comes together.

3. Roll the dough into small balls, about the size of a pecan, and place about 1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Lightly dampen your fingers and slightly flatten the cookies. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, until the bottoms of the cookies are golden and the tops are firm. Remove the cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.

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