Monday Must Have: Microplane Zester/Grater

I love kitchen gadgets and I have a top 10 list of gadgets that I don't ever want to be without. My Microplane zester is close to the top of that list.

There are two kinds of people: those who use Microplane zesters and those who don't. Which ever category you fall into, keep reading because this post is for you. If you do own a Microplane zester and have used it, you probably love it like I do. If you received one as a gift and you haven't used it, read on. If you don't own a Microplane zester, let me share with you how this kitchen gadget can change your life (OK, maybe not your LIFE, but it will change how you cook or bake). First, here is a list of a few things that can be zested:
  • fruits (lemons, oranges, limes)
  • spices (whole nutmeg, cinnamon)
  • chocolate bars (white, milk, dark)
  • cheese, ginger, onions, garlic, etc.

I use my zester almost every time I bake. I use it for cakes, cheesecakes, cupcakes, cookies, fillings, curds, muffins, biscuits, quick breads, garnish, toppings, ice cream, pies, fruit fillings and frosting.

There is no comparison between freshly grated nutmeg and ground nutmeg you buy from the store. The smell is heavenly!

Zesters are available in a few sizes--I have found that this size works for all my needs. There are smaller Microplane graters that are advertised specifically for grating spices, but I find that the one I have works great for nutmeg, so I haven't purchased an additional one. It works fabulous on chocolate bars, for a nice garnish over whipped cream on a dessert.

Lemons are the number one ingredient that I use my Microplane zester for in many of my recipes. I use a lot of egg whites for several desserts on my menu and this leaves many egg yolks left over. The best thing to use the leftover egg yolks is to make them into lemon curd. This is a great recipe from one of my favorite books on lemon desserts.

Lemon Curd
Luscious Lemon Desserts by Lori Longbotham

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
Pinch of salt
6 large egg yolks

1) Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium-low heat.
2) Remove pan from heat and whisk in sugar, lemon juice, zest and salt. Whisk in the yolks until smooth.
3) Cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it thickens and leaves a path on the back of a wooden spoon when a finger is drawn across it; do not allow the mixture to boil.
4) Immediately pour the Lemon Curd through a strainer into a bowl. Let cool to room temperature, whisking occasionally. Refrigerate, covered until ready to serve.
*Lemon Curd keeps for a month in the refrigerator and about 3 months in the freezer.

Lemon-Orange Curd: (Jillicious variation)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • add 1 Tbsp. of orange zest + 3 Tbsp. of lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice + 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt (kosher salt)
  • 7 large egg yolks

Prepare using the directions above. (I use less butter, because I like my curd to be a little more tart and the lemon-orange flavor is stronger without it).