A good lemon curd has a glossy finish, holds together like pudding, feels smooth and creamy on the tongue, and has a nice balance of flavor between tart and sweet.

After experimenting with variations of five different lemon curd recipes, I finally settled on my favorite. The result is the recipe below: a version adapted from the recipe I first learned while taking classes at my local culinary school.

I used a ratio of 3 tablespoons of lemon juice per whole egg. This creates a curd with tart lemon flavor, but that’s still thick enough to use in other desserts (for instance, between layers of cake).

I found that when I used less juice, the curd was still nice and thick, but it had an eggy flavor to it. When I used more juice per egg, it created a thinner curd that with the consistency of ketchup rather than firm pudding. The flavor was still great, but it wouldn’t work between cake rounds, or hold its shape in tarts (though if you want a curd that you could drizzle over something like ice cream, this would be perfect).

I used just enough sugar to take the sour edge off the lemon, but not so much that this citrus beauty was overshadowed with saccharine flavor. I definitely wanted the lemon to be the star of the show.

I also use a fair amount of butter in this recipe. I like the velvety mouthfeel that butter provides, so I use a lot. If you’d rather use less, play with the amount of butter to suit your liking and taste as you go. If you are happy with less, then by all means leave a couple of tablespoons out.