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Friday, May 7, 2010

Lemon Mousse

Sometimes I just get in a mood and have to experiment in the kitchen. Yesterday was one of those times. I got a bee in my bonnet to do something different for supper so headed off to Sunflower Market about 1pm to grab ingredients for Sole Meuniere and Orange and Pecan Wild Rice. Both of those are Ina Garten recipes in her Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics cookbook.

I also decided to try her recipe for Lemon Mousse since I had lots of lemons to use up and I also had some snazzy new ramekins from World Market (4 for $2.99!) Of the entire meal, I think the Mousse was the biggest hit with the Dover Sole coming in second and the rice a distant third.

Michael's rating of the Orange and Pecan Wild Rice was a reserved "it's good." When pressed he expanded his review to include "it's different" and finally "I like it but it just needs to be a small portion alongside a few other things." However, he said the Dover Sole Meuniere was "very good." I didn't bother to try dragging out more of a critique on that one wanting to quit while I was ahead.

Anyway, I fell in love with the Lemon Mousse. It's fairly easy to do and is scrumptious and lemony. The only real change I might make to this recipe the next time I do it is to add the lemon curd just after heating the custard so that it can incorporate more fully into the dish. Adding it where Ina instructs tends to leave "chunks" of lemon curd floating in the mousse. Actually, it's kind of fun as far as taste because you get these little intense bursts of tart lemon while eating it. However, from a strictly aesthetic viewpoint it tends to interrupt the light yellow and fluffy appearance of the mousse. If you experiment, let me know how it turns out for you.

I don't often find myself propped against the kitchen counter licking the leftovers out of a bowl but after running my finger through the remainder of the mousse to test its flavor, I quickly dug out a spoon and finished off the bit that wouldn't fit in my ramekins! Yum! Smooth, tart, creamy, and light as air!

Ina's recipe makes enough for one 7 1/2" souffle dish. I used my small ramekins that measure about 3" across and had enough for about 5 or 6 easily. I probably could have made it to 7 if I'd had another ramekin handy. Instead, that last bit went right into my mouth!

I decorated these with some sweetened whipped cream placed in a pastry bag with a star tip. You can also use a bit of curled lemon peel or paper thin lemon wedges as garnish.

3 extra large eggs
3 extra large eggs, separated
1 cup plus 2 tbl. sugar
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
Kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup lemon curd (best quality) at room temperature

In a large heat-proof bowl, whisk together the 3 whole eggs, 3 egg yolks, 1 cup of sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and pinch of salt. Place bowl over a pan of simmering water and cook, stirring constantly for about 10 to 12 minutes until the mixture thickens like pudding. Remove from the heat and set aside for 15 minutes. Place plastic wrap directly on surface and chill 1 to 2 hours.

Place half the egg whites and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Beat on high speed with electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment until egg whites form medium peaks. Add remaining 2 tbl. of sugar and continue beating until whites form stiff peaks and are shiny. Carefully fold the beaten egg whites into the cold lemon mixture with a spatula.

Place the cream in same bowl used for the egg whites and beat on high speed with whisk attachment until cream forms stiff peaks. Carefully fold whipped cream into lemon mixture. Fold in lemon curd and pour or spoon into 7-inch diameter, 3-inch deep souffle dish (or several small ramekins). Decorate with sweetened whipped cream and lemon slices or curled lemon peel. Chill and serve very cold.

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