I adore Key Lime Pie and order it as often as it appears on a dessert menu. Most of the time I’m disappointed. It is usually too sweet, not tart enough and the texture just screams gelatin. When I took a bite of this mousse it reminded me of a super light key lime pie filling. The best part is that it doesn’t actually require key limes, which have a short growing season and the bottled stuff just leaves me flat. The mousse is tangy, just a touch sweet, and it is so light, it melts on your tongue. The fresh strawberries lend a perfect balance of flavor and texture to the dessert. I put them in glass jars because the lemon-yellow mousse and lipstick-red strawberries are so pretty together I wanted to be able so see them. It is also the best way to bring dessert along to a pot luck or picnic. These jars are probably familiar to many of you who eat Bonne Maman French preserves that come in them. I save the jars and pretty checkered lids to reuse.
You can make this mousse with just lemons, or limes, but I thought the combination of lemons and limes gave the mousse a more complex flavor, that ended up tasting like the fragrant key limes. Zest the citrus first, then juice them.
6 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup juice and all the zest from the lemons and/or limes
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound fresh strawberries, sliced thin
1/4 cup sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons orange flavored liqueur
To make the mousse:
In a non-reactive saucepan whisk together 3 eggs, 3 yolks (reserve the 3 egg whites), 3/4 cup sugar, salt, juice, and zest. Cook over medium heat while stirring constantly, until it thickens, about 10 minutes.
The lemon curd is done when it is as thick as pudding and coats the back of a spoon or spatula.
Press through a fine mesh strainer. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the lemon curd is cool. Can be made a day or two ahead.
Whip the egg whites and remaining sugar until they reach stiff peaks.
Add 1/3 of the whites to the chilled lemon curd and mix to lighted the texture of the curd. Gently fold the remaining whites in.
Whip the heavy cream with the vanilla extract, until stiff peaks.
Fold the whipped cream gently into the lemon mousse.
Fold just until the cream is smoothly incorporated.
Place the mousse into a piping bag and fill the jars evenly.
To make the strawberries:
Start with very fresh and sweet berries. If they aren’t as sweet as you like, you can add more sugar, or less if they are very ripe.
Mix the berries, sugar and liqueur in a bowl. Let the berries sit for at least 30 minutes, so they release some of their juices. Can be made several hours in advance.
Spoon the berries over the mousse.
They can be served immediately or refrigerated for several hours.
My friend, Shaina Olmanson, is an exquisitely talented and creative blogger and has just written a book about ways of making gorgeous desserts in jars. Check out Shaina’s book Desserts in Jars: 50 Sweet Treats that Shine for more ideas.