When life gives you lemons, make … mousse?
You thought I was going to say lemonade! Well, summer is nearly finito, so refreshing beverages are not in my thoughts, but dessert is always on my mind.
Plus, I love mousse because it’s much quicker than making pie — you don’t have to mess around making pie crust. Who wants to bother with rolling out pastry, and then blind baking the result? This is especially the case if your weather is still summery. Mousse prep requires very little heat.
Yet mousse is more elegant than pudding. It is airier, creamier and melts on the palate.
Mousse also lends itself to a beautiful presentation. Pour the mousse into ramekins or martini glasses for individual servings. After chilling, sprinkle with cookie crumbs, toasted almond slices, whipped cream and/or berries.
You can also use mousse to make a trifle. Just layer the mousse with cubes of angel food or pound cake along with a fruit compote or syrup. (Follow this link for a formal Lemon Mousse Trifle recipe.)
Of course, mousse also makes a delicious filling for cakes or perhaps a pie with a cookie or nut crust that does not require time in the oven. (For a lemon mousse, I recommend a gingersnap crust!)
I whipped up two different versions of lemon mousse. Both recipes yielded lip-licking results, but my family cast their votes for the lighter, healthier mousse. It is like eating a sweet cloud, each bite evaporating inside your mouth.
Since they rely upon gelatin for stability, neither mousse takes long to set and can be served in individual dishes with less than two hours of refrigeration.
(If a box of gelatin is not a staple in your pantry, here’s a recipe for a very, quick and easy fruit mousse that has just three ingredients.)
AN INDULGENT LEMON MOUSSE
Starting with the recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything (p. 661), I made a richer, more lemony mousse with whole eggs and heavy cream. Click here to jump to the recipe.
I did reduce the sugar slightly in both recipes. Because Bittman’s recipe is so satiating, it was easy to get away with less sweetness.
If you decide to prepare this mousse, which calls for raw eggs, look for pasteurized eggs in the grocery store. If you would rather, you can pasteurize your eggs at home in the microwave using the method given in this video.
Whole eggs contain many nutritional benefits, but for the sake of food safety, you might not want to use raw eggs if you are planning to serve the lemon mousse to older adults or young children.
This recipe is high in fat, especially saturated fat, which many nutrition experts say can contribute to inflammation.
A LIGHTER LEMON MOUSSE
As a contrast, I also prepared Kristen Swensson Sturt’s lighter take on lemon mousse, which omits the egg yolks and subs Greek yogurt for the heavy cream. In this recipe, a plethora of egg whites is heated briefly and whipped with sugar to make a meringue.
This meringue approach yields an ethereal dessert, more suited to hot weather. That said, neither mousse will weigh you down too much. Although Swensson-Sturt’s lemon mousse has half the calories of Bittman’s, neither version is high in calories.
For me, the choice of lemon mousse is based on flavor. If you enjoy an eggy pudding, choose Bittman’s lemon mousse. You can always replace the cream with a non-dairy whipped topping if you are lactose intolerant or want to lower the amount of saturated fat. (Or, if you want to speed the prep.)
If you love a will-o’-the-wisp confection, make Swensson-Sturt’s meringue-y lemon mousse (recipe below).
It is difficult to say which version is more time-consuming. There are more lemons to squeeze for Bittman’s mousse and more eggs to separate for Swensson-Sturt’s mousse.
The choice could come down to what you have in your refrigerator.
Plenty of lemons and heavy cream? Make Bittman’s lemon mousse.
Lots of eggs, but only a single lemon in your crisper? Go for meringue and Swensson-Sturt’s lemon mousse. It only needs the zest and juice from one lemon. (Put that lemon in the microwave for a few seconds before squeezing and you’ll get more juice from it.)
Greek Yogurt Lemon Mousse
- 1 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 envelope about 2 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- 2/3 cup eggs whites from 4 or 5 large eggs
- 1 Tablespoon of Truvia stevia+erythritol
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 6 to 8 serving vessels glasses, ramekins, etc.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Set aside.
- Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand to soften.
- In the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, whisk the egg whites, Truvia, and sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid is nearly scalding. Quickly remove from heat and pour into the bowl of a stand mixer or into a bowl that will accommodate a hand mixer.
- Use a whisk attachment if you have a stand mixer or beat at high speed with an electric mixer until egg whites are cool and form a fluffy meringue.
- Add lemon-yogurt mixture from Step 1 and fold gently until thoroughly incorporated.
- Spoon into individual ramekins or serving dishes and refrigerate for an hour or more before serving. (You can transfer the mixture into a pastry bag or large measuring cup to make the process easier.)
- When you are ready to serve, garnish with fresh berries and mint.
Copyright © 2020 Jani H. Leuschel