Nothing says Imbolc better that the bright yellows of lemon, butter and egg yolks. So what happens when you infuse a sweet, zesty, creamy, lemon curd with the aromatic herbs of the sun? Glorious food magic is what!
Lemon Tassies are old-fashioned dessert tarts filled with easy to make citrusy curd. And while no one is sure where they first originated, the word Tassie is believed to be derived from the old Scottish & French words for small cup. And since France and Scotland were once Celtic lands (from which Jennifer and I both descend) I decided they were perfect to bring to her Imbolc Soirée, where we will once again celebrate with neighbours and friends, the return of Brigid, the Celtic maiden goddess of the sun.
Imboc occurs somewhere between Feb1st or 4th (when the sun hits the midpoint between winter solstice and spring equinox) a time when days grow visibly longer, and deep in the earth seeds begin to stir. And with the promise of spring, as new shoots and buds begin to appear, it was a time of preparing the ground and beginning the agricultural work of the new year.
Magically, Imbolc was a time of purification and protection symbolized by Brigid the goddess of fire. Bonfires were lit to cleanse the fields, hearth fires were put out and re-lit, and lit candles were placed in each room to guide Brigid and her blessings to their home. Special foods symbolizing the power of the sun were made, offered and eaten, to help Brigid spread her green cloak of new life, across the land.
Long associated with the sun, butter has long been served at Brigid’s Feast. Legend tells when Brigid was sent to help the dairymaids churn butter, she prayed for abundance and the butter doubled. This she took and fed to the poor. Today people still leave out butter as a special gift to Brigit for Imbolc so that she will bless them with prosperity and abundance.
Eggs (with their golden round orbs) have long been symbols of fertility and new life, and the lemon’s bright, fresh yellow, the colour of spring. Add to this the purifying and protective powers of rosemary and lavender, herbs both sacred to the sun, and you’ve got some sweet treats I’m sure will please her taste buds and help spread her sweet warmth over the wintry land.
And that’s why these Lemon Curd Tassies are the perfect offering. Buttery rich, lemony fresh, and suffused with the aromatic herbaceous notes of rosemary and lavender, they’re brimming with the magic of the sun. A perfect addition for any Imbolc celebration right?
Plus Tassies are easy to make! Making the curd is a fairly simple procedure, and it begins with infusing your butter with your herbs on low heat for a few hours. Then you strain out the herbs and put butter aside. After that the most arduous part is grating the lemon rinds and squeezing of juice. This juice whisked together with sugar and eggs until light and frothy. And it makes a sunny pretty picture indeed!
Then this mixture is put in a saucepan on low to medium heat to thicken and cook. Slowly stirring, watch for when the consistency of the curd becomes thick enough that it hold its shape and doesn’t run back together with you a put spoon through. Once ready, your infused butter is added, and gently stirred until melted. In a few minutes a beautiful creamy curd appears.
This is cooled for a few hours so that the curd takes on a thicker, even creamier consistency, and is then spooned into prebaked golden tarts. I used store bought mini-tarts because I wanted their perfect sun like appearance, but of course you can use home-made pastry or even a shell of buttered nuts and seeds.
Voila the delicious food magic of Lemon Curd Tassies! Bring on the sun!
Rosemary & Lavender Lemon Curd Tassies
Makes about 2 cups.
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice
- Zest of 2 medium lemons
- 3 large eggs
- ¾ cup organic cane sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 4 4-inch stems of fresh rosemary
- Teaspoon of dried lavender buds
- 5 tablespoons butter
- Put butter in small sauce on low heat. Once butter is melted, add your rosemary and lavender. Let infuse on lowest setting for an hour. Strain herbs from butter. Set butter aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon juice, zest and salt until frothy and light.
- Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and place over medium low heat. Stir constantly, until the curd thickens, about 5-7 minutes or so. When you can run your spoon through and it leaves a clear path without running back together in the pan, remove from heat.
- Press the cooked curd through a strainer to filter out any cooked zest pieces and/or tiny lumps.
- Then turn the heat all the way to low and stir in the butter. Cook and stir until the butter is melted and fully incorporated.
- When the curd is cooked, allow to cool on the counter to room temperature before refrigerating overnight, or at least 4 hours. This will allow the curd to fully thicken to its proper consistency.
- Once cool spoon into small pre-baked mini-tarts and adorn with blossoms of rosemary and lavender.