Lemon chiffon mousse. The name really doesn’t do this dessert justice. Imagine an edible lemon cloud – a citrusy, airy delight with a texture that combines fluffiness and creaminess. Now, put that lemon cloud in a delicate glass.
Next, take a spoonful. Heavenly.
I’ve had this recipe for years. I keep my handwritten version in a looseleaf notebook. Every time I look at it, I see the stains made when I dribbled on the page peering over the recipe.
When we were newlyweds, it was the only non-chocolate dessert I made for parties. As we planned events, someone would inevitably ask if there would be lemon chiffon mousse. I always said yes – until news reports came out about the salmonella risks from raw, unpasteurized eggs.
My recipe called for raw eggs and the only eggs I knew about were unpasteurized. So, reluctantly I stopped making the mousse.
Then I discovered Safest Choice™ eggs, which are pasteurized. That process kills salmonella, making it safe to eat or use them raw. So now I’m back in business, making my beloved lemon chiffon mousse.
The ingredients are few (7, or 8 if you count a bit of water, not shown in the photo below)
and the steps to go from ingredients to mousse are quite simple:
- Combine the yolks and sugar;
- Add the lemon rind and juice:
- Mix in the whipped cream, then the dissolved gelatin;
- And finally, fold in whipped egg whites.
The pasteurization process does not change the color or taste of the eggs. It does however mean that when whipping them, as this recipe calls for, you need to add cream of tartar or lemon juice. I learned that lesson two years ago, and even did an experiment to see how much cream of tartar works best when whipping pasteurized egg whites.
The original recipe called for only a pinch of cream of tartar. I’ve upped that amount to 1 and 1/4 teaspoons in accordance with advice from Rose Levy Berenbaum, an amazing baker and the author of The Baking Bible.
My official taste tester has always been a huge fan of this dessert and remembers the taste of the original quite well. After insisting that he had to try the test batch of the mousse several times this weekend, with each spoonful he sighed happily. When finally sated, he delivered his verdict – this version with pasteurized eggs and more cream of tartar tastes just the same, and just as wonderful, as did the original lemon chiffon mousse.
Lemon Chiffon Mousse
- 5 pasteurized eggs I used Davidson's Safest Choice™ eggs
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2-3 large/3-5 small)
- lemon rind (from lemons used for juice)
- 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
- 1/2 cup cool water
- 2 cups heavy cream can substitute whipping cream
- 1 1/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
Butter the inside of a large serving bowl and dust it with sugar to coat it completely. Set aside.
Separate the eggs, putting the yolks and whites into separate, large bowls.
Zest and juice the lemons. Set aside the rind and 2/3 cup of the fresh lemon juice.
Beat the egg yolks and sugar for several minutes until they are light in color and thick in texture. Mix in the lemon rind and gradually add the 2/3 cup of lemon juice, stirring until the ingredients are well combined.
Soften the gelatin in the water and heat the liquid gradually, stirring constantly, until the gelatin is completely dissolved and the mixture thickens. Set aside to cool slightly.
Whip the cream until it has soft peaks and gently fold it into the egg yolk/sugar/lemon mixture. Add the gelatin to the whipped cream, egg yolks, sugar and lemon, stirring until the mixture thickens.
Beat the egg whites for about 2 minutes, then add the cream of tartar. Continue beating for another 6 or so minutes until the egg whites form stiff but not dry peaks. Fold the egg whites into the mixture and pour it gently into the buttered and sugared serving bowl.
Chill in the refrigerator for several hours until well set.
When zesting the lemons, take off only the top, yellow layer of skin. To the extent possible, avoid the white pith below the yellow exterior, as it is bitter.
The preparation time does not include chilling time.