Barefoot Contessa fresh lemon mousse is light, creamy, tangy, and one of Ina Garten’s very favorite desserts. Easy to make ahead, it can rest in the fridge until serving.
This is many layers of things but the good news is that you can make it in advance and let it sit in the refrigerator for a long time. And I give it extra-special flavor by putting in half a cup of lemon curd, giving it a real lemon bite. Fold the lemon curd in to combine everything and place the mousse in a soufflé dish.–Ina Garten
Barefoot Contessa Fresh Lemon Mousse
For the lemon mousse
- 3 extra-large whole eggs
- 3 extra-large eggs separated
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (4 lemons)
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup good bottled lemon curd at room temperature
- Sweetened Whipped Cream
- Sliced lemon for garnish
For the sweetened whipped cream
- 1 cup cold heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Make the lemon mousse
- In a large heat-proof bowl, whisk together the 3 whole eggs, 3 egg yolks, 1 cup sugar, the lemon zest, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt.
- Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 10 to 12 minutes, until the mixture is thick like pudding. (I change to a whisk when the mixture starts to get thick.) Take off the heat and set aside for 15 minutes.
- Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, until completely chilled.
- Place half the egg whites and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue to beat until the whites are stiff and shiny. Carefully fold the beaten whites into the cold lemon mixture with a rubber spatula.
- Place the cream in the same bowl of the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (no need to clean the bowl) and beat on high speed until the cream forms stiff peaks. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the lemon mixture. Fold in the lemon curd and pour into a 7-inch-diameter, 3-inch deep soufflé dish.
Make the whipped cream
- Place the cream, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium and then high speed until the cream just forms stiff peaks. Spoon the whipped cream into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip.
- Decorate with sweetened whipped cream and lemon slices that have been cut into quarters. Chill and serve cold.
What size dish should I use for a mousse?A soufflé dish measuring 7 inches in diameter, 3.5 inches high (that’s a 1-quart dish) will fit the amount of this recipe perfectly. You can also make individual servings. The amount will range between 6 to 10 servings, depending on your choice of vessel.
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Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I confidently decided to make this for a dinner party without testing the recipe first. I was mightily rewarded and thanked by all dinner guests in attendance. Big hit! The recipe was fairly easy to make, although I did make my own lemon curd, which added an extra step to the process. But if you use a purchased lemon curd you’ll save time and dirty bowls.
Oh my, this lemon mousse was deliciously smooth and creamy, like lemony clouds dissolving on the tongue. I can’t say that I’ve ever had a lemon mousse, but I can say that I’ll be making this again. This recipe deserves to be printed out and stored in my dessert binder so that I don’t forget about it!
I had nine dinner guests to serve, and it made just enough to divide between nine beautiful champagne glasses. I smoothed the top, drizzled it with additional lemon curd, and garnished it with whipped cream and raspberries. Serve with crispy-crunchy amaretti cookies for a supremely satisfying experience of swiping the cookies through the mousse!
Lemon lovers will delight in this delicate dessert. It may seem a bit tedious (whisking, mixing, folding, and more folding…) but it will not disappoint. The lemon flavor was intense for my 9-year-old, but he still gave it a 9 as well as the rest of my family of taste testers.
I opted to serve this dessert layered (mousse, whip cream – repeat) in parfait cups. For individual servings, this will serve about 6.
Originally published November 24, 2008
Can this be made the day before??
Christine, you should be able to make this dessert ahead. I would suggest making the lemon mousse the day before and then make the sweetened whip cream the day you plan on serving them. If you try it, please let us know how it turns out.
I’d like to add a trick I use for stabilizing whipped cream overnight. Add 2 leveled tablespoons of one of the following to the heavy cream before whipping: sour cream, crème fraîche, or Greek yogurt. I’ve tried it many a times, and only with the full-fat kind, and the whipped cream maintains its structure in the refrigerator for quite a while (I think 20 hours is the longest I’ve left it). The whipped cream does take on a SLIGHT tang, but I never mind it.
Why make lemon curd then use store bought too?
Ben, the lemon mousse that is made at the start of the recipe is different from lemon curd. You could always make lemon curd to add in to the mousse later in the recipe.
When time to whip the egg whites the video says use half the egg whites!!!! Aren’t there only three whites that were separated? Are you saying we should use 1 1/2 egg whites?
phyllis, yes. You can measure all the whites with a tablespoon measure, and then use only half.
I am hoping to make this Lemon Mousse on Thursday. Would the recipe work if I simmered the egg whites in a double boiler while whisking them? I have done it before in a chocolate mousse recipe. It’s just that I prefer the egg whites cooked if possible.
Thanks in advance,
Hi Terayz, we didn’t test the recipe using cooked egg whites so I can’t guarantee the result. That being said, if you have tried this method before for another mousse, it should be fine. Let us know!
I made your lemon mousse. It was good but the lemon curd never seemed to soften. It was like hard jelly and wouldn’t blend in. Do you have a suggestion on a better brand? The brand I used was at room temperature. I had just bought it at the store. I am hoping to do it for a baby shower next weekend.
Thanks you for your help.
Hi Pam, I have a couple of ideas that might help. You could give the lemon curd a good stir or you could take a bit of the whipped cream and combine it with the lemon curd. Both of these would loosen the curd and make it easier to incorporate into the mousse. Any good quality lemon curd is fine for this recipe or you could make your own.