Meyer Lemon Mousse

A few months back I worked on a Lemon Pudding Cake for Le Creuset that was to be debuted with their Soleil Cookware.  It came out lovely and I will share it in the weeks to come.  When I was testing it, spring seemed so far away, but now March is almost over and I am thinking about Easter desserts!  My mind keeps going back to lemon.  Lemon is so refreshing and full of zing! Which is why I think it is the perfect dessert to get the spring thaw rolling (even if Mother Nature isn’t quite ready to cooperate).

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Lemon was a favorite in our house growing up.  Lemon Italian Ice  was slurped up after a hot summer day at the beach, along with lemonade and lemon sorbet.  In recent years, my mom has become famous for her lemon iced shortbread cookies and I have added lemon cream tarts to our list of citrus kissed goodies.  Lemon ginger scones have also made it onto the favorite list, inspiring last year’s universal stocking stuffer – microplane zesters!

This time of year brings us the end of the citrus wave, although you can still find a few blood oranges around.  Meyer Lemons have become more common and I can find them at Whole Foods a few more months out of the year than I used to.  A cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange, the Meyer lemon has smooth skin the color of a fresh egg yolk.  It also has a high volume of juice and none of the tartness of a regular lemon.  They are smaller and are more expensive, which can make them a bit of a splurge when making a recipe that calls for 6.  The story goes that about 5 years ago Martha Stewart began featuring them in recipes, such as her lemon-pine nut tart, whole-wheat spaghetti with arugula and pistachios, and a take on classic coffee cake with thinly sliced Meyer lemons in the batter.  Since “Martha knows best…” they caught on and now they are a staple in restaurant and home kitchens.

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I came across this lovely lemon mousse recipe over on Dunk and Crumble and knew it was going to be the first of a few lemon recipes I would try this spring.  This recipe is composed of a lemon curd folded into yogurt that results in a smooth, creamy and slightly “guilt free” treat.  The lemon curd was delicious and lighter than the traditional recipes with butter, I am sure I will be using it again.  I served the finished mousse with chopped mango but I envision this in a summer fruit parfait or as the filling for a mini tart.

Lemon Yogurt Mousse
yield: 4 servings

Lemon Curd:
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup Meyer lemon juice (from about 7 lemons)
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
tiny pinch of salt

Whipped Yogurt:

1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt (I used whole milk Fage)
3 teaspoons pure maple syrup

In a medium saucepan, combine the lemon zest and sugar by using your fingers to rub the two together.  Add the lemon juice, and whisk to combine.  Place the saucepan over a medium flame and whisk until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a simmer.  Turn off the heat.

Whisk the eggs together in a medium bowl.  Very slowly drizzle the warm lemon juice mixture into the beaten eggs, whisking constantly, to combine without scrambling.  Once combined, whisk the mixture for an additional 2 minutes.

Pour the curd mixture back into the saucepan over low heat.  Cook the mixture, stirring with the whisk continuously, just until it begins to bubble (roughly 5-10 minutes).  It will be slightly thickened.  Remove curd from the heat and pour through a fine mesh sieve.  Transfer it to an airtight container.  Chill the curd in the refrigerator for an hour or two before combining it with the whipped yogurt.

While the curd chills, place the greek yogurt and maple syrup in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whip yogurt on high-speed for 2 minutes, until airy.

Fold together the chilled curd and whipped yogurt until fully combined.  Spoon mousse into serving cups, and top with fresh berries.

Note: if prepping in advance, spoon mousse into serving cups, press plastic wrap on top of each serving (this will prevent a skin from forming), and chill in the refrigerator until ready to eat (up to a day in advance).

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