So. That happened. Somehow 4 months just sort of got away from me. It started out as an intentional break that was only supposed to be a few weeks but I kept extending my break and then life got in the way and then I wasn’t sure how or even if I wanted to come back at all. But I finally realized that I was just letting all my insecurities take over and that’s BS. I love cooking and taking photos and I just needed to get out of my own way and jump right in the same way I did a little over 4 years ago when I started this blog. So I’m back. Maybe not better than ever, but I’m here and that’s all that counts.
In the past 4 months I’ve had some fairly large life changes. No, I’m not pregnant. (Is it just me or is EVERYONE pregnant or just had a baby?) But I did move to a whole new state. Well, actually it’s not a new state because I lived here for most of 7th to 12th grade, but it is a new city. My boyfriend’s company moved their offices to Nashville, Tennessee, and we decided to go along. Most of Brandon’s family lives in TN and we both went to high school in a teeny-tiny mountain town about 2 hours from Nashville so it made the most sense to move to a place that was at least somewhat familiar. I know most people wouldn’t consider Nashville to be a big town but after living in Charlottesville for 3 years it feels gigantic so I’m still getting my bearings despite being here for almost 2 months.
I think that’s another reason for my long break. It took me a while to get comfortable in my new apartment and especially in my new kitchen that’s about 1/4 the size of my old one. (It’s here where I pause for a moment of silence for the loss of my big, beautiful sunny kitchen. Sigh.) But I think I’m about as ready as I’m going to be. So let’s talk food! I’ve actually had this recipe ready since May and I was worried I waited too late to post it but it’s still pretty hot around here and this lemon mousse totally hits the spot. I’ve made it a bunch of times this summer because it’s just so easy and flexible enough to serve to an entire group or just a single serving.
The mousse is very simple mixture of lemon curd (which only takes about 15 minutes to make and can be made up to a week in advance) and whipped cream. So simple! I make a big batch of lemon curd at the beginning of the week, then when dessert time rolls around I whip up a little cream and mix in a few heaping spoonfuls of curd. In 5 minutes you have a smooth-silky-light-fluffy-sweet-tart lemony treat. Bonus: the extra lemon curd is fantastic in yogurt, slathered on cake or muffins or just eaten by the spoonful!
And be sure to try this with Meyer Lemons when they’re in season again next year. I was lucky enough to find Meyer lemons very late in the season and this was one of the first things I made with them.
You can serve the lemon mousse by itself but I love strawberries and lemon together and I knew this mousse would be great with some berry compote (strawberries cooked in a little sugar until syrupy) swirled into it. It’s a very rich dessert, but it feels light and airy and it’s perfect on a warm summer night. I got the idea from the similar Cherry-Rhubarb Fool that I made last year. And of course, lots of berries go great with lemon so feel free to substitute your favorite or whatever is in season.
I’ll be back soon with a new recipe. Thanks to everyone who is still reading despite my long absence. Say hello in the comments sometime, I’d love to hear from you!!
Lemon Mousse with Strawberry Compote
Dessert | Servings: 6-8
Prep time: 10 min | Cook time: 30 min | Total time: 40 min plus time to chill
This recipe works with great with both regular and Meyer lemons. If you using Meyer Lemons, reduce the amount of sugar in the lemon curd to 1 cup.
- 3 cups trimmed and halved strawberries (or any berry)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 6-8 large lemons)
- 4 large eggs
- Zest of 4 lemons
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup (4 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 2 1/4 cups heavy or whipping cream, divided
- 1 to 2 tsp. sugar (optional)
- Place strawberries and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is syrupy. Remove pan from heat and let cool. Mash or puree the berries if you want a smoother consistency. Chill in the fridge completely before serving. This can be made a day or two ahead of time.
- Place a mesh strainer over a bowl and set aside.
- In a saucepan whisk together sugar, lemon juice, eggs and zest. Set the pan over low heat, add in butter and continue whisking until melted.
Increase heat slightly to medium-low*, continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the curd thickens and starts to look like jelly. It should be 160 degrees F. This will take about 15-20 minutes since this is a large batch of lemon curd. If you half the curd recipe it will take about half that time.
*Note: On my electric stove with a dial from 1 to 9, 5 being medium, I place the dial on 3 or 4. The traditional way to cook lemon curd is to keep it on low the whole time, but I prefer David Lebovitz’s “dare-devil method” which cooks the curd a bit faster. You HAVE to whisk constantly or else the eggs could start cooking too fast. If you start seeing small pieces of white stuff (eggs) in your curd adjust the heat down to low (those bits will be strained out later).
- Remove from heat and immediately pour through the strainer. Cover and store in the fridge until chilled. This can also be made ahead of time since the curd will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.
- When ready to serve, whip 1 3/4 cups of cream in a chilled bowl until medium-firm peaks form. Gently fold 1/3 of the whipped cream into the lemon curd to lighten. Then fold in the rest of the whipped cream.
- Whip remaining 1/2 cup of cream and sugar in a chilled bowl until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
- In small glasses or bowls, spoon in the berry mixture and top it with the lemon mousse. (Aim for 2 parts mousse to 1 part berries.) Dollop with extra whipped cream. Serve immediately.
* Using frozen berries for the compote is fine. They will take about 5-10 minutes longer to cook than fresh.
* To make a single serving, whip about 1/4 cup of cream and fold in 3-5 big spoonfuls of lemon curd or until it’s lemony enough for you.