Admittedly, this is not a good picture for a variety of reasons: the partial lighting, the shadow, the disheveled surface of the lemon curd on top (I’ll explain later), the scratches on the plate etc., etc., but you know what? Like I used to tell the girls when they were little: “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” The sole purpose of this blog is for me to house my recipes (both trials and tribulations), my girls (for the day they eventually move out and into their own homes), my friends and family (who better to swap recipes with and cook for?), and lastly, for the random person scrolling through who happens to see something they might like and want to try. I’m not in this little corner of the web for the likes (nope!), money (ha!), or fame (I cringe!). I’m a social worker for God’s sake! While I usually try to get the best picture available with my trusty iPhone, I’m not going to let it interfere with the occasion. And this occasion was to celebrate my dad’s 76th birthday in July. He’s the youngest 76 year old I know!
I’ve likely mentioned before that my dad HEARTS lemon big time so when I came across this recipe months ago, I knew he was the sole reason for which I would make it. It looked a bit daunting at first with homemade lemon curd and all, which I’d never made, but I acknowledged my fear and then tossed it aside. Isn’t that what we do when we love someone? For the right reasons, anyhow. Plus, you never know until you try it, and try it I did, and it was a success. In the event I make it again, I will forgo reserving some of the mousse to decorate the top with rosettes. Decorating is not my forte even with the easy peasy Wilton tips. So, while I did it, I removed it from the top of the cake before taking the picture because it simply was not aesthetic, and hey, this girl knows her strengths, and that is not one of them. That is why the lemon curd is dented a bit. Not only did I remove it, I then tried to smooth it out and well, you know what happened there. Nevertheless, it tasted great and my dad was happy. What more can a daughter ask for?
Recipe source & notes: https://frugalhausfrau.com/2016/03/10/lemon-curd-mousse-cake/
*I found the notes to be incredibly valuable and efficient. I read them several times before starting (and even during) the process. They were very useful so that’s why I included them after the recipe.
for the curd:
- 2 1/3 cups sugar
- 4 tsps. cornstarch
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 4 large eggs
- 4 large egg yolks
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
for the crust:
- nonstick cooking spray
- 2 cups shortbread cookie crumbs (I used Keebler’s Simply Made Butter cookies)
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
for the mousse:
- 5 tablespoons water
- 4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- 6 large egg whites
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
for the curd:
Mix sugar and cornstarch in heavy medium sized saucepan. Gradually add lemon juice, whisking until all cornstarch dissolves. Whisk in eggs and yolks. Add butter.
Stir over medium heat until curd thickens and boils, about 12 to 15 minutes. You’ll want to make this on the thick side – make sure it coats the back of the spoon well and leaves a very distinct line.
Transfer to medium bowl, press plastic wrap onto the surface of the curd and chill until cold. The chilling time will vary, usually four to six hours. This can be made a week ahead.
for the crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom of 8 or 9 inch diameter spring form pan with nonstick spray.
Blend cookie crumbs and butter in small bowl. Press onto bottom of pan. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Cool.
for the mousse:
Pour 5 tablespoons water into small saucepan. Sprinkle gelatin evenly over, If necessary, gently press down on the gelatin to submerge. Let stand until gelatin softens, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, stir 3/4 cup curd in another small saucepan over medium-low heat until very warm.
Place an additional 1 3/4 cups lemon curd in large bowl.
As soon as the gelatin has softened, stir over low heat until dissolved and liquid is clear (do not boil).
Whisk warm gelatin mixture into the 3/4 cup warm curd. Gradually whisk gelatin-curd mixture into the 1 3/4 cups of curd in large bowl.
Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until whites are thick and glossy. Fold whites into curd mixture in 3 additions.
Using same beaters and bowl, beat cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into egg white-curd mixture in 3 additions.
Spoon enough mousse over cooled crust to fill pan completely, but make sure to save at least a cup and a half into small bowl and reserve. Cover and chill mousse cake, reserved mousse, and remaining curd overnight.
Note: if there is a concern about the raw egg whites, use pasteurized eggs or heat the whites and the sugar over a double boiler, whisking constantly until temperature reaches 160 degrees. Remove from the heat immediately.
Using a long thin knife, cut around cake to loosen. Remove pan sides. Gently spread 3/4 cup of remaining curd over cake. (I prefer to refrigerate the cake at this point and take the reserved mousse out to warm up to room temperature or close to it, about an hour.)
Transfer reserved mousse to pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe rosettes of mousse around top edge of cake. Chill cake until ready to serve. (Can be made up to 8 hours ahead.)
- First of all, the cake has to be refrigerated for quite a while for the mousse to properly set up so it’s a great make ahead recipe. You’ll need to allow for this; at least 8 hours, preferably overnight. That makes this a beautiful recipe to make ahead for a part or event. I like to start two days ahead with the lemon curd and crust.
- The lemon curd needs to be made several hours ahead of the mousse (at least 4 to 6 hours) and the crust has to be baked and cooled before assembly. If you do both of these steps a day before you make the mousse you’ll make it much easier on yourself.
- When I make the curd, I strain the eggs and egg yolks before adding them especially if I can see quite a bit of the white chalazae. It really just depends on the eggs, not the skill of the cook. I don’t worry about the whites going into the mousse. It’s much easier to strain the eggs than the finished curd.
- Speaking of eggs, this recipe does contain raw egg white, so be aware of the safety aspects. You can use pasteurized eggs or do what I do and put the egg whites and sugar in a double boiler and gently heat, whisking, before whipping into stiff peaks.
- You’ll use a lot of eggs! 4 yolks plus 4 whole eggs in the curd and 6 egg whites for the mousse. That’s 10 eggs. Do yourself a favor and separate the ones that need to be separated all at once. Set aside your four whole eggs for the mousse, then divide the 6 eggs and yolks. You’ll put all six whites aside in the fridge for the mousse the next day. For the yolks, you’ll be using four and have two extra.
- Instructions say to make this in an 8 inch spring form pan; I did today, but usually make it in a 9″ pan. In my very standard spring forms, with an 8″ the crust is quite thick and I end up with about 4 cups of mousse left over. In a 9″ the measurements work out a bit better. Although, you’ll lose just a touch of drama in the width to height ration, it’s still plenty high. I like how a bite of this cake, when made in the 9″ pan, has a good ration of curd to mousse.
- While the recipe says the filling should be even with the top of the pan, I try to very gently smooth so there is a very teensy rise, not even noticeable, about 1/4″ around the edge. That helps keep the curd in place. Also, don’t put the curd all the way to the outside edge. Leave a slight border; otherwise, when you pipe the rosettes, the curd will be pushed to the edge and drip down the side and may even take the rosettes with it.
- The crust is good with shortbread or gingersnaps. I look for Lorna Doone or Walker shortbread cookies. Today I used Sandies and I used 21 of them.
- When working with the gelatin and curd, make sure to follow the instructions closely. Heat the gelatin gently while stirring until it is no longer opaque. It won’t really be “clear” as the recipe states and there may be a little foaminess from the stirring. You can check it by running a bit of the liquid between your fingers. It if’s perfectly smooth and warm, it’s good to go.
- Make sure to stir the gelatin into the warm curd, then whisk it into the large bowl that contains the 1 3/4 cups of curd. These steps prevent the gelatin from setting prematurely in the cold curd and causing lumps. I do not find this tastes of, or find the texture, to be at all gelatinous using the four teaspoons of gelatin.
- When you add the curd to the top layer, DON’T STIR IT! It will very likely turn watery. Just gently spoon across the top and nudge it into place, smooth it a little and it will find it’s level. This isn’t a thick, thick curd, so don’t use it for other cake recipes and expect it to stand up.
- I like to spread the curd on the Lemon Curd Mousse cake while it’s in the pan and then refrigerate again for at least an hour. I generally bring the remaining mousse up to room temperature during that time and pipe the rosettes on right before serving.
- While this extra chilling step is really not strictly necessary, it will help keep the curd from getting too drippy.
- Many people complain this dessert is too sweet. Feel free to cut back on the sugar, but served in fairly thin slices (it’s supposed to serve 12) and served well chilled, I think it’s perfect. If there’s any left over, I find people will literally bicker for any remaining slices.
- Don’t expect this to travel well for long periods of time, and if you are, bring the well chilled cake in the spring form pan, along with the rest of the curd and mousse and your piping bag along with to assemble at the destination & keep it cold.