David and I had guests for dinner last night. David was making the entrée and a guest was bringing salad, which left me having to make only an easy hors d'oeuvre (marinated mushrooms). So, I decided to explore dessert recipes for something out of my comfort zone, and came across a recipe for lemon mousse from The Moosewood Cookbook, that great vegetarian cookbook from the 1970s. The recipe mentioned the possibility of serving in individual dessert dishes, which gave me the idea to use the lovely goblets I inherited from my mother, who had gotten them from her mother, my Bubbe Schine. I rarely use them, so all the more reason to give it a try. It worked out really well, and all the guests were enthusiastic.
Some notes on the recipe:
· The original recipe said it served 6, so I made 1-1/2 times as much, which yielded what you see in the photo above—8 goblets plus a large bowl of extra. Most people did have a second serving, but that still left plenty. The amounts below are from the original recipe, but I've changed the serving designation to 8.
· The mousse was definitely on the tart side. When I asked if it was too tart, one guest said she would have used more sugar; the others liked it as it was. I think the next time I make it, I'll use vanilla extract instead of lemon (the recipe gives a choice)—I think that might tone down the tartness a bit. You could also add more honey, either to the lemon juice/cornstarch mixture or to the whipping cream.
· The mousse was lovely, but it definitely needed the berries to top it off.
· There's nothing difficult in this recipe—it just takes time for the different components to come together: making the custard, beating the egg whites, beating the cream, and prepping the berries. Enjoy!
Lemon Mousse with Berries
Lightly adapted from Mollie Katzen, The Moosewood Cookbook
Preparation takes about 2-1/2 hours (including the 45 minutes of chilling time), and then the mousse needs to chill for several hours, so you'll need to make it in the morning, to serve in the evening.
3 large eggs
3 T. cornstarch
grated rind from 2 lemons
juice from 6 lemons
8 T. honey
dash of salt
dash of cream of tartar
1 pint (16 oz) heavy cream, cold
1/4 t. vanilla or lemon extract
1 T. honey
fresh berries (I used blueberries and strawberries.)
1. Separate the eggs. Set aside the whites, letting them come to room temperature. Lightly beat the yolks.
2. Lemon custard: In a small saucepan, whisk together the cornstarch, lemon juice, 8 T. honey, and the lemon rind. When the mixture is smooth, cook it over low heat, whisking, until it starts to thicken (about 6-8 minutes). Remove from the heat. Beating furiously, whisk the hot lemon mixture into the egg yolks, beating until smooth. Refrigerate for about 45 minutes, until the mixture has cooled down and begun to solidify. At the same time, put in the fridge the bowl you'll be using to beat the cream—it helps for the bowl to be chilled.
3. EGG WHITES: After the lemon mixture has cooled, start beating the egg whites. Add a dash each of salt and cream of tartar. Whip until you get stiff peaks, and then fold the whites gently but thoroughly into the chilled lemon mixture. Refrigerate while doing the next step.
4. CREAM: Whip the heavy cream in the chilled bowl, adding the extract and drizzling in 1 T. honey. When the cream has been whipped to soft peaks, fold it into the rest of the mousse. Put the mousse into the serving dish(es)—either one large bowl or individual dessert dishes.
5. BERRIES: Prepare the berries, as needed. I cut strawberries into quarters or eighths and mixed with a little sugar, enough to get a bit of syrup as the berries sat. For the blueberries, I sprinkled on sugar, and then cooked them in a saucepan, just until the sugar melted. I then put the berries in the fridge, taking them out an hour or so before serving to bring them to room temperature.
6. Serve the mousse with the berries, to spoon on top.