Ring in the new year with an elegant treat

lemonmousse

I love the San Francisco Chronicle’s food section. It usually has a good selection of recipes that are easy enough for the average home cook. A few years ago, this recipe for Lemon Mousse was featured. At the time, my parents’ lemon tree was covered in fresh lemons that needed to be used, so this was the perfect selection. It was everything I had hoped for. Its light, citrusy flavor, creamy texture and candied lemon peel made for a great light dessert.

I thought this recipe would be a good finishing touch to a New Year’s Eve dinner. You can dish it out in small portions or large portions. I dished it into martini glasses to make it festive. Be sure to make it far enough in advance to give it the time it needs to chill. It even pairs well with a nice glass of riesling, so you can have your dessert and eat it, too.

However you ring in 2013, I hope you’re surrounded by family, friends and good food. Happy New Year!

Lemon peel garnish
3 to 4 lemons
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Using a serrated or vegetable peeler, cut strips from each lemon and julienne strips. Blanche the strips in boiling water for about 5 minutes. Pour into a sieve, discard the hot water and rinse the strips in cold water. (This process eliminates most of the peels’ bitterness.)

In a small saucepan bring the sugar and 3 tablespoons water to a boil, swirling the pan occasionally until the sugar melts. Simmer the mixture for 1 minute. Add the blanched lemon peel strips to the syrup, and stir to coat them evenly with the syrup. Pour into a sturdy container and refrigerate until serving time.

Lemon Mousse
5 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon, at least 1 tablespoon
1 pint (2 cups) cold heavy cream

Set a sieve over a heatproof bowl and set nearby. Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and 2 tablespoons water in a 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan until thoroughly combined. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly and it registers 165° on an instant-read thermometer.

Immediately pour this lemon mixture into the sieve, pressing it through with a heat-resistant spatula. Discard the lemon zest that remains in the sieve. Allow the lemon mixture to cool before covering its surface with a sheet of plastic wrap. Refrigerate (up to 2 days) until you’re ready to finish the mousse. The lemon mixture thickens as it chills for several hours or overnight. To hasten the chilling, place over an ice-water bath and gently stir occasionally.

To assemble, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold half of the whipped cream into the thickened lemon mixture to lighten it. Whisk the remaining whipped cream in the bowl to thicken the cream more and fold it into the mousse. Divide it among 8 stemmed glasses or bowls and serve immediately, or refrigerate covered with plastic wrap for up to 1 day. Serve garnished with lemon peel.

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