So, what is lemon curd, and what do you do with it?

Lemon curd is essentially a preserve or condiment made with lemon juice, eggs, sugar and butter. The first three ingredients get blended and softly warmed so that the eggs thicken the mixture. Whisking in cold butter finishes it off and smoothes it out.

What you do with it is the fun part. Use it on toast, scones, biscuits, or English muffins. Blend it into whipped cream to layer with cake and fruit in a trifle. Top a cheesecake with a layer. Fill a cake with it. Stir it into yogurt. Spoon it onto a slice of pound cake. Anywhere you want a burst of sweet, creamy, pleasantly tart, lemony-ness, this curd is your gal.

A small jar of this makes a lovely holiday gift. Tie on a tag with the above advice for how to put the lemon curd to good use, and remind the recipient to keep it refrigerated.

Oh, and lime juice also works; then you have lime curd. A nice way to switch it up.

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LEMON CURD

Makes about 2 cups, or about 16 servings

Start to finish: 3 hours (30 minutes hands-on time; includes 2 hours 30 minutes of chilling time)

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1 large egg

4 large egg yolks

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

Pinch kosher salt

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In a large, heavy pot, whisk together the egg, yolks, sugar and lemon juice until smooth.

Place the pot over medium heat and whisk frequently until the mixture is warm. Continue whisking frequently until the mixture thickens and turns buttery yellow, about 7 to 10 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed to make sure the mixture does not simmer, but stays hot. When the mixture coats the back of a mixing spoon, it is done. You can also use a candy thermometer to measure the temperature, which should be between 170 and 175 degrees F.

Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the butter one tablespoon at a time, until each addition of butter is melted and incorporated. Whisk in the salt.

Transfer the lemon curd to a glass container. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the top (this prevents a skin from forming) and allow to cool. Seal the container and refrigerate for up to 10 days.

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Nutrition information per serving: 107 calories; 51 calories from fat; 6 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 71 mg cholesterol; 22 mg sodium; 13 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 13 g sugar; 1 g protein.

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Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, "Dinner Solved!" and "The Mom 100 Cookbook." She blogs at http://www.themom100.com/about-katie-workman. She can be reached at Katie@themom100.com.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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