Baking For Others: Summer Lemon Mousse with Strawberries
Check out our other great tips for how to serve fruit for dessert.
It’s no secret that I am not the baker in this little cooking duo of ours. This wasn’t always the case. In high school, when our cooking and non-cooking friendship began, I baked all the time—mostly cookies, but also the occasional pound cake, banana bread, and cupcake.
Back in October, I began working as a personal chef, making a three-course meal once a week for my client, who just so happens to love her sweets. It was kind of a wake-up call for me. I’d always loved brainstorming with Cara about the dessert nibbles that could be added to our party and catering menus. But when I perused my food magazines, and traipsed around the blogosphere, rarely would I dog-ear, tab, or really pay any attention to the sweet stuff.
Until, of course, I had to. For the first two months of my job, I got away with putting this rich chocolate torte on every menu under a different name, cut into different shapes, and garnished with different accoutrements. But eventually, Henny began to catch on. I needed to jazz up my repertoire. I needed to become a baker again.
I found it easier to tackle my baking fears by category. First came different varieties of cakes, then spins on brownies and blondies, and finally I went the mousse route. This proved to be the easiest and most practical solution to my weekly dessert offerings.
It’s hard to make a cake just for just a few people unless you are making individual molten chocolate cakes or budino (which is not even technically a cake). But mousse can be portioned however you like, into wine glasses, punch glasses, or ice cream bowls. And you can make it up to a day in advance. It was actually easier and lighter to transport the glasses of mousse uptown on the 4 train than it was to carry a whole cake in its pan. So if transportation is an issue for you too, don’t rule out mousse.
This dessert is an incredibly light and satisfying treat for a casual summer night. The berries are inspired by the delicious strawberry shortcakes with basil-macerated fruit that Cara made last spring for a party we catered (which we never photographed, and which, therefore, we have yet to post about) and they rae the perfect counter-point to the tart, lemony mousse.
From my kitchen, back to baking, to yours,
Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Lemon Mousse with Basil-Macerated Strawberries
Makes 4 servings
5 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Pinch of salt
1 1/3 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
½ pound strawberries, stems removed and sliced
3 tablespoons Basil Simple Syrup (recipe follows)
Whisk egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice, lemon peel, and salt in medium bowl until combined. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water (this is a makeshift double boiler). Whisk until mixture is very thick, about 6 minutes. Remove and let the lemon mixture cool to room temperature.
Beat remaining 1 1/3 cups cream in large bowl until firm peaks form. Carefully fold whipped cream into the lemon mixture, 1 cup at a time. (You should have 3 cups total).
Divide the mixture between 4 punch glasses or small bowls. Chill for at least 2 hours, and up to 1 day.
In a medium mixing bowl, spoon the simple syrup over the strawberries and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
When ready to serve, using a slotted spoon, spoon the strawberries over the mousse and garnish with a basil leaf (optional).
Basil Simple Syrup
½ cup sugar
½ cup water
½ cup fresh basil leaves
Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until the sugar dissolves, less than a minute. Turn off heat and add the basil. Stir to combine, and let steep for 1 hour. Remove to an airtight container and refrigerate.