If you happen to have the luck of a few extra lemons in your kitchen, I’m here to give you some ideas. One of my favorite things in the whole universe of fabulous desserts is lemon mousse. It’s light and creamy and full of the tart pucker of lemon. In my book, it’s among the best of luxurious indulgences. It’s also pretty easy to prepare.
Instead of serving lemon mousse on its own, I dollop it in a tart shell to introduce some texture. The tart shell has a little taste of almond and the dough is one of those easy mixes done in a food processor and then pressed into the tart pans rather than rolled out.
The lemon mousse for this tart is a simple lemon curd blended with a fairly equal portion of lightly whipped cream. I usually also fold in whipped egg whites for an even lighter, more ethereal mousse when serving on its own. But for this tart, I keep it basic and slightly more substantial.
If you love lemon and the combination of creamy and crumbly, this tart should fill the bill.
- Acidic ingredients like lemon are likely to pick up a metallic flavor and may also discolor if cooked in what's called "reactive" cookware. Aluminum, cast iron and copper are reactive metals. Stainless steel and glass are nonreactive.
- Lemon curd can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Store it in an airtight container.
- If you prefer a plain tart shell, elminate the sliced almonds and use a total of 1 1/4 cups flour.
- Freezing the formed tart shells for one hour before baking helps to eliminate shrinkage.
- If you’d like to make the lighter version of this mousse on its own, make the lemon curd in the recipe. Then whip just 1/2 cup cream to soft peak. Fold that into the lemon curd and refrigerate. Whip 2 egg whites with 1 tablespoon of sugar to stiff peak. Fold into the lemon curd and cream mixture, spoon into serving dishes and chill. As always, exercise caution when using raw egg whites. They should not be served to small children, pregnant women or individuals who are at risk due to compromised immune systems.
Lemon Mousse Tartlets
Makes five 4” tartlets
1 C flour
1/4 C (3/4 oz) sliced almonds
3 T sugar
1/4 t salt
zest of 1/2 lemon
4 oz (8 T) cold butter
1 egg yolk
1/2 C lemon juice (about 3 – 4 lemons)
zest of 2 lemons
1/2 C sugar
2 egg yolks
3 oz (6 T) butter
1 1/4 C heavy cream
2 T sugar
1/4 t vanilla
pistachios or sliced almonds, finely chopped for garnish
Lightly grease five 4” tartlet pans with removable bottoms.
Place the flour, almond slices, sugar, salt and lemon zest in the bowl of a food processor and process to combine. Cut the cold butter into 1/2” pieces and add. Pulse until some of the butter is the size of oatmeal flakes. Stir the yolk and add. Process for about 10 - 15 seconds until the dough begins to form clumps. It will not be a smooth dough. Press the clumps evenly and smoothly into the bottom and sides of the tart pans. Trim any excess from the top of the border. Freeze the formed tart shells for one hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place the tart shells on a baking sheet. Bake until they are a light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
For the lemon curd, whisk the lemon juice, zest, sugar and eggs in a non-reactive heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of low simmering water and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture begins to thicken, about 3 – 5 minutes. Pour through a strainer into a bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and add a few at a time, stirring to incorporate. Press a piece of plastic wrap into the surface and set aside to cool. Refrigerate until you're ready to assemble the tartlets.
To prepare the lemon mousse, whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla to soft peak. Fold into the lemon curd and refrigerate. When ready to serve, dollop the lemon mousse into the tart shells and garnish with finely chopped nuts.