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Lemon mousse recipe

Lemon Mousse

To my peculiar form of synesthesia, spring is yellow. The world around me seems to agree, covering itself in daffodils of hues from palest cream to cartoon-sun yellow to bright tangerine, with clumps of golden forsythia and swaths of chartreuse spring grass. Purple will be along soon, in a week or so when the chives start to bloom, but for now the garden tends toward the golden.

While the world turns to yellow outside, the fruit selection here on the 46th parallel tends toward the remnants of winter, somewhat yellowish in its own right: the ubiquitous banana, an apple or two (Note to the folks selling Red Delicious apples in April - they don't store well. Really.), and lots of citrus.

Sadly, the strawberries trucked 1000 miles look good from a distance but a closer inspection of their plastic cage reveals half-ripened berries with a distinct lack of aroma. And mold. My editor calls it zombie fruit because it looks like fruit, but has no soul.

So it's back to the citrus. Lemons, in fact. Because lemons are yellow and taste like spring. Only sunnier.

This recipe comes from Ray's Boathouse, one of Seattle's longtime beloved waterfront seafood restaurants. Ray's is the kind of place you take your parents when they come to town. The view is lovely, the seafood is fresh and well-prepared, and the service is excellent. When I lived in the area, it was one of my indulgences.

Once, on a unseasonably warm spring day, I had this lemon mousse at Ray's. It was light and tart and not too sweet. Spring in a dessert bowl. Much later, the recipe turned up in Northwest Best Places Cookbook (vol 2) - it is also in Ray's Boathouse Cookbook These two events are separated by what seems like an unreasonably long time for them to be using the same recipe, so maybe I am misremembering that day at Ray's. All I know is when I open the book to this recipe, I feel the first warm spring breeze and see a field of yellow flowers. Who am I to argue with spring?

Lemon Mousse

serves about 6, well maybe 4...

1/4 cup melted butter, cooled
3 eggs
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar

1 cup cream
2 tbsp lemon zest (and extra for garnish)

  1. Melt butter and set aside to cool.
  2. Place the bowl of a double boiler on a folded towel on the counter so it doesn't slip. Whisk the lemon juice and sugar together in the top of the double boiler. 
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating briefly to incorporate each egg before adding the next.
  4. Drizzle in the butter while continuing to whisk.
  5. Cook over (not in) simmering water, 8-10 min until pudding-like. Your finger will leave a clear trail in the curd that coats a wooden spoon. Pour into a bowl through a sieve. Cover tightly and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate if not using immediately. Lemon curd will keep for 4-6 weeks in the refrigerator. (Unless you know it's there, then I give it 3-4 days max.)
  6. Once the curd is cooled, whipthe  cream to firm peaks. Gently fold the cream and zest into the curd, one third at a time, until no streaks remain. Spoon into individual dishes and chill for at least an hour.
  7. Just before serving, garnish with curls of lemon zest.

Thin ginger cookies are a perfect accompaniment and allow you to make Lemon Ginger Sandwich Cookies.

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