Lemon Mousse Tartlets for a bright tasting and easy dessert!
I love lemon desserts – actually, I think lemons are just great in general – you may have noticed the theme! Anyway, seeing a bag of Meyer lemons in the store always gets me thinking of a new lemon dessert. Even better than a lemon dessert? A creamy lemon dessert! There’s just something so special about tart, creamy and sweet all together. Easy Peasy, Lemon Squeezy … as they say! This may look difficult, but it is definitely not. Your family will think you’re a super star for making this. This is very much a bright tasting and easy dessert.
Bright tasting lemon curd makes an easy dessert
This tartlet uses a lemon curd. This recipe is made without any cornstarch, so it’s not overly thick, but you could still eat it on toast. Here I mix it with whipped cream and make it into a mousse like filling for a tartlet. I say tartlet, but you could call these little guys whatever you want. I made them in four inch tartlet tins with removal bottoms for ease.
This lemon curd was made mainly with Meyer lemons, but I turned out not to have enough. I added in two big Persian lemons (ye olde regular lemons) and it’s just as good. Meyers are a little sweeter and have a slight orange-ness to them.
When you are juicing lemons, there are several different tools available. I have them all! Tool number one is a lemon reamer. This works really well and is cheap and easy to use. Other options include the kind you use in a bar, they’re very good too. One of the challenges of using Meyer lemons is the skin is not ask thick as regular lemons and if, like me, you use a veggie peeler to get the zest, then it’s much thinner after that. Finally, the old-fashioned glass one work really well too.. and if that’s your preference, then please use that. They’re actually very good about catching the pips.
To use the Meyer lemon as zest, cut the strips of peel and with a sharp paring knife, scrape the white pith off and discard. You don’t want that in whatever you’re making. It tastes bitter.
When I make zest, whether it is to included in a pudding or a custard or even muffins, my preferred way is to use a veg peeler and then dice. This does give you little tiny squares of zest rather than the softer-edged shards you get using a zester. I do own a zester and will use it depending on the application. Here, I was going to be removing the zest so it did not matter what it looked like. The zest was taken out of the curd when I seived it after cooking.
If you are making tartlets, you will need a base for the bottom. I’ve included in the recipe attached a ‘cookie-like’ base that is very easy to make. You can also use a graham-cracker bottom or even buy pre-made pastry shells if making pastry is not what you enjoy.
You can also just eat this out of a bowl! No matter how you eat the mousse, save some lemon curd to drizzle over the top for that added hit of bright taste.
Well worth the time
As with my overall goal here on the blog, this is not hard to do. I love to bake and cook, but it has to be enjoyable and not too much work. Recipes that require a million steps and bizarre ingredients have no place in my life. This recipe does have a couple of steps, but trust me, it will be worth it.
There’s not a huge amount of prep required for this dessert, but please take a look at my previous post on measurements and prep. It’s a good practice to follow and can definitely be used here.
Temper – as in all things, is important
One of the techniques used in the lemon curd is ‘tempering’. Tempering, whether it is chocolate or eggs, is all the same. You are managing the temperature of one ingredient so that you do not end up with an unwanted texture. When you temper eggs, into a curd or a custard, the whole goal is to not have scrambled eggs.
By adding some of the hot liquid (here it was sweetened juice) into the raw beaten eggs, you are gradually bringing up the temperature of the eggs without cooking them. I do it a couple of times, very little hot liquid at a time. Feel the bowl or jug the eggs are in, and if it’s starting to get warmer, then you can add the egg mixture into the hot liquid.
Whisking is very important. You need to keep the mixture moving. I recommend using a non-stick pot if you have one. This is one type of food prep where I want non-stick. Non-stick is very safe as long as you do not use an extremely high heat and damage the surface.
Magical meeting of curd and cream
To make this a very simple mousse, I simply whip cream until firm peaks and slowly add in two thirds of the lemon curd. You want the cream to fairly stiff here, as it will soften with the addition of the lemon curd. Save the rest of the lemon curd to drizzle on top of the finished tartlets. You can also add leftover curd to plain yogurt. That tastes great.
Spooning the mousse into the tartlet shells or small bowl is the easiest way to do it. You can also put it into a pastry bag and pipe it in. The soft cloud like piles of mousse do have great ‘curb appeal’ (and less stuff to wash).
Time to chill out
You can just eat the mousse with a spoon if you like, no reason not to. I put some of the leftover mousse in small canning jars and will enjoy with a tiny lemon biscotti. (I did not make these, saw them in a big box store, could not resist – okay, also was hungry!). Point is, a little crunch goes very nicely with mousse.
Make sure you give these tartlets a bit time to chill out in the fridge. I’d recommend at least two hours. When you cut into these (assuming you are sharing….you don’t have to!). The mousse should be firm enough that it does not fall out.
Nice and natural – to me, means easy!
There is no gelatine in this mousse, no cornstarch in the curd, so we are working with the magic of eggs and cream with air whipped into it. Dear bakers, this actually works. No extra ingredients to have on hand, nothing dubious added.
- 6 Large lemons - preferably Meyer - to give 2 tablespoons of zest and (3/4 cup) lemon juice
- (1/2 cup) sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 4 large egg yolks only (save whites for another recipe)
- 56g (1/4 cup) butter
- 345g (1 and 1/2 cups) whipping cream
- 113g (1/2 cup) softened butter
- 52g (1/4 cup)
- 125g (1 cup) all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- pinch of salt (if you're using unsalted butter
For the tartlet shells - set oven to 300F
- Cream the butter and sugar together until very well mixed. The butter must be quite soft to do this.
- Add in the flour, salt and vanilla. Mix until all is combined.
- Chill for at least 30 minutes. This will still be a soft dough.
- Divide the dough into six pieces. Push into tartlett shells - forming the edge first and then flatten the base. Use your fingers to do this.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, gently poking a fork into the bottom of the tartlet shells half way through baking. This is to prevent them puffing up too much. Be gentle, don't push the fork all the way through.
Make the Lemon Curd
- Thoroughly wash and dry the lemons - they may have a waxy coating, plus you are using the skin. With a little pressure, roll the lemons on the counter, this makes them easier to juice.
- Peel two of the lemons with a vegetable peeler and cut the strips of peel into very tiny dice. This allows the peel to give up more of the lemon oil where so much of the taste is.
- Juice the two cut lemons and the remaining four. You may find that you do not have enough juice. You can top this up with bottled lemon juice if you have to, but fresh is preferable. You will need 177ml (3/4 cup) of juice.
- Add the juice and the zest (chopped peel) along with the sugar to a pot. Set aside while you prepare the eggs.
- In a glass jug, gently beat the three whole eggs and the four egg yolks.
- Put the lemon juice and sugar and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Do this over a medium heat so as to not burn the sugar.
- Carefully add a small amount of the hot syrup to the egg mixture, whisking (the eggs) the whole time. This is the start of 'tempering' the eggs. You are trying to bring the temperature of the eggs up without cooking them.
- Add a little more hot syrup, each time whising thoroughly. You should be able to feel through the glass jug that the eggs are getting warmer.
- Add the eggs and syrup mixture in to the pot and keep whishing and stirring until the syrup and eggs are bright yellow and have started to thicken.
- The curd is cooked when a wooden spoon is dipped into the mixture and you can run your finger on the back of the spoon and the space stays open.
- Pour the curd through a seive into a glass bowl. You are seiving this to remove the little bits of zest (chopped peel) and any thickend egg bits. The curd should be smooth.
- Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the curd while it cools.
Make the mousse and assemble.
- Whip the cream until it holds stiff peaks - it will soften as you add the curd to it. Gently add the lemon curd, saving approximately one third.
- Spoon the mousse into the tartlet shells or into small bowls.
- Drizzle a small amount of the lemon curd over the mousse. Add a strawberry or a raspberry for decoration.
- Let chill for at least an hour.
My recipes are all created using metric weight measurements. Conversion to spoons and cups are approximate.
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