Mousse, at its core, is basically frothy, lightened egg whites folded into a custard or ganache. But, you know . . . as I was making regular mousse, and folding my egg whites into my lime custard, I thought to myself, “I wonder what this would look like, deconstructed, into beautiful green and white layers?” And this dessert was born.
I just love cute little individual desserts. It’s so fun to get your own tiny stemmed dessert dish brimming with character, color, and creativity. These little lime mousse cups are adorable and sweet. You can garnish them each with a fresh lime slice and use a Brûlée torch to toast the meringue, at the table. Talk about an awesome finish to the meal! Who doesn’t love a dessert that is fired at the table. “You’re fired!” Sorry. Ha.
Anyway, I bet when you serve these little sweeties at your next get together, everyone will love them. Somehow, the bright colors and snappy flavors bring a breath of spring, even on the coldest days. And who is more than ready for spring? *Waves hands wildly* Ooooh, ooohh . . . I am! I am!
What are we waiting for? Let’s do this!
Lime Mousse with Swiss Meringue
(Product of my original madness– feel free to use, but please link back here so no one steals my work 🙂
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cups water
1 lime and 1 lemon, juiced and zested
2 egg yolks, beaten
2 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup cornstarch, plus enough water to make it a milky fluid
Swiss Meringue Ingredients:
4 egg whites
6 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
Bring sugar, salt, and water to a boil in a large saucepan. In a separate bowl, mix enough water into the cornstarch to create a milky substance. Mix the cornstarch into the boiling water and whisk until the mixture becomes thick and gelled. Add a little green food coloring at this point, if desired. Turn down the heat to low and add the butter until it fully melts. In a separate bowl, mix together the beaten egg yolks, lemon/lime juice, and lemon/lime zest. Very slowly add the egg mixture to the gel, whisking constantly. Heat the filling until it thickens, again, and pour into stemmed dessert glasses. Cover and chill until ready to top with Swiss Meringue (more on how to make this later); brown with a kitchen torch until edges are golden. Garnish with fresh lime wedges.
Now, in pictures! 🙂
To begin with, pour your sugar, salt, and water into a nice big pan. You want lots of room to whisk without getting cramps in your fingers 😉 Turn the heat on and whisk, occasionally, until your mixture just starts to boil.
When you mixture reaches a boil, it’s time to add the cornstarch. Think of cornstarch as the kid on the playground who never wants to play and always hogs the swings. It never wants to mix, and it always gets messy. To cut down on the “bad boy” qualities of cornstarch, mix it in a separate bowl with a little water. Stir in enough water that the mixture becomes like whole milk. Keep stirring, and eventually the mean old cornstarch will relent and “play nice” with the water. But keep stirring right up until you add it, because if you stop, the cornstarch will settle right out. So annoying. But it is what it is. You know, there’s always that one guy . . .
Go ahead and mix your cornstarch/water combo into the boiling sugar water. Whisk it and keep scraping around the edges, or that mean old cornstarch will try to escape and sit on the edges, pouting, again. As the mixture heats back up, keep whisking and making sure you scrape all the edges and sides. You can add a little green food coloring, too, if you want your lime mixture to be nice and crystal green.
When the mixture gets to be nice and thick, and your whisk leaves marks in the gel, turn the heat to low and add in your butter. Allow the butter to melt and whisk it in. Isn’t that pretty? Yes. You did this. You made the cornstarch play nice, and now you’re reaping the benefits. You’d make a fine food playground monitor.
While your butter is melting away into sumptuous loveliness, go ahead and get your eggs ready to dance. Mix your beaten yolks, lemon and lime juice, and lemon and lime zest, together. There, now. Isn’t that pretty? Very slowly, whisking the entire time, trickle your egg mixture into the green lime mixture. We want to go slowly so that the egg can adjust to the temperature, gradually. We don’t want our eggs scrambling on us, now do we? 😀 When the eggs have been added, bring the heat back up to medium low and whisk until the mixture thickens to be the consistency of soft set pudding, or gravy. Pour the green glory into cups, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until you’re ready to top with meringue.
Now . . . let’s talk meringue. There are 3 basic types of meringue: French, Italian, and Swiss. You find these types and techniques in everything from lemon meringue pie, to French Macarons. French meringue is the one that most people are familiar with– cold egg whites and sugar (sometimes cream of tartar) are beaten to stiff peaks and then baked. Italian meringue heats the sugar in a syrup and adds the syrup to already whipped egg whites. But Swiss is the most interesting (and perhaps the most seldom used) meringue of all. And it’s a shame. Because it’s really cool.
With Swiss meringue, you heat the egg white, sugar, and cream of tartar to 160 degrees in a double boiler, then whip. The beauty of this system is that (1) the sugar keeps the egg from fully cooking, and (2), since the egg is fully cooked, unlike with other meringues, this meringue is the only one of the 3 that is completely safe for pregnant women, the elderly, or anyone with a compromised immune system. It’s also neat because you can eat it immediately after whipping, without having to bake it. This means you can use a neat flaming torch to toast the meringue, at the table, delighting dinner guests from far and wide (those torches are so cool– I’m always looking for new ways to use ’em :). Swiss meringue also has a little bit different texture than the other 2 meringues– it’s velvety and smooth– almost like marshmallow crème. Give Swiss Meringue a try. It’s really cool. 😀
But what was that you said about a double boiler? I don’t have a double boiler! I can’t buy all this expensive equipment to make a recipe I will only make once (starts hyperventilating).
Eh . . . don’t sweat it. I don’t have a double boiler, either. But wait a minute! I thought you just said . . .
A double boiler is, at its heart, just a little pot over a little bit bigger pot of boiling water. So no fear– take your metal kitchenaid bowl and put it over about an inch of simmering water in a medium saucepan. Before you add anything to the bowl, place the bowl over the pan and then check the bottom. If the bottom is wet, then you have too much water in the saucepan. Adjust your water so that it’s under the bowl, but not touching it. Add your egg white, sugar, and cream of tartar, and turn your water to medium. Every minute or so, gently stir your egg white mixture with a whisk, scraping the edges, so that the egg doesn’t cook around the sides. We are going to gradually bring the egg whites up to 160 degrees.
Grab a candy thermometer and look for that magic 160 degrees. The trick is to make sure you’re taking the egg whites’ temperature, and not the temperature of the bowl. Take the temperature in the middle of the “pool,” making sure your thermometer isn’t touching the metal, which will be hotter than the egg whites. Gently scrape and stir the egg white, also, before measuring temperature, so that you get the warm and cool parts all nice and mixed.
When the egg whites reach that magic 160, go ahead and put the whole mixing bowl back onto the mixer and whisk it with the whisk attachment. You are looking for it to get to the stiff peak stage– that is, it will hold a “peak” like the picture– straight out, without moving, when you take the whisk out of the meringue. It took me about 4-5 minutes to get my whites to whip to stiff peaks. The mixture cools, also, while you are whisking it. And your meringue will come out silky and smooth and gorgeous.
Top your cute little lime mousse cups with a dollop of Swiss meringue and toast with a Brûlée torch. You can place the meringue, fresh, onto the cups, or you can cover and refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve. Swiss meringue is a lot more stable than its counterparts, so you can make it up to a day ahead of time and just rewhip when you’re ready to serve dessert, if you want to.
Garnish each little cup with its own lime wedge and toast your Swiss meringue, at the table, for your guests. That part is really cool– not only do you have flaming powers, at the table, but the sweet smell of toasted marshmallow wafts through the air. It’s seriously cool.
But that’s no surprise. Because you’re the coolest.
You did it. And I’m just so proud of you.
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