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Creamy Lime Mousse

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An adaptation of a favorite childhood dessert, this Creamy Lime Mousse is bright, fresh, and the perfect way to end a summer meal. And for those who have dietary restrictions that need to be met, this miraculous dish is also both gluten and dairy-free!

creamy lime mousse

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I was recently flipping through the cookbook my mom compiled for me and my brother when we were in our 20s, looking for a recipe, when I stumbled across her recipe for lemon cream, a dessert that I loved as a kid, but had completely forgotten even existed! Immediately, I knew I wanted to make it for my family, but while I didn’t have any lemons on hand, I did have a number of limes, so I decided to give them a shot instead and make a Creamy Lime Mousse. And wow am I happy I did! This dessert is absolutely to die for – a little less sharp than with lemon, it has become my ultimate refreshing summer dessert! And the best part, depending on your preferences, you can serve it either chilled or frozen.

A Dairy-Free Dessert

While this lime mousse is creamy and delightful, you may be surprised to learn that there is no dairy involved. Instead, the creaminess comes from eggs – the yolks thicken the mixture, while the whites add creaminess and lightness to the dish.

creamy lime mousse vertical

How to Make Creamy Lime Mousse

With only five ingredients, which you may very well already have in your pantry, this is a summer treat you can make almost any time! While it is quite simple to make, I wanted to highlight a couple of steps that people may not be as familiar with, discuss one optional step you can take to make this Creamy Lime Mousse even silkier, and also talk about how the eggs are prepared, so that you aren’t worried about food safety. And, finally, I’ll describe the benefits of serving this Creamy Lime Mousse chilled and the benefits of serving it frozen (both are delicious!).

What You Need to Make the Mousse

creamy lime mousse ingredients

To make this Creamy Lime Mousse you will need the following ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 limes (juice and zest)
  • ¼ cup boiling water
  • A pinch of salt

You will also need the following equipment:

  • A medium saucepan
  • 3 medium to large mixing bowls that can go over heat (so glass, stainless steel, or ceramic)
  • 1 cup measure
  • A whisk
  • A spoon
  • A fine mesh strainer (optional)
  • An electric mixer or standing mixer
  • A rubber spatula
  • 6 Dessert Dishes, for serving

How to Make the Mixture

In order to make this mousse creamy without any dairy, you need to separate the eggs and then use the egg yolks to make a custard-like mixture and then beat the egg whites to give the dish creaminess and volume.  

How to Separate Eggs

The goal of separating an egg is to separate the egg white from the yolk. There are a number of different ways to do this, but the method that I have always found the most manageable is to do the following:

  1. Pull out two bowls (in this case, you can use the two mixing bowls referenced above)
  2. Crack the egg over the bowl that you would like the egg white to go into
  3. Using the two halves of the egg shell, gently move the yolk from one half of the shell to the other, allowing the egg white to fall down into the bowl
  4. When the yolk and egg white are separated, place the yolk into a different bowl

Making the Custard Mixture

Once your eggs are separated, the next thing you are going to do is combine the egg yolks with your sugar, lime juice and zest, and boiling water. Then you can heat the mixture up either on the stove or in the microwave. Personally, I prefer to do it on the stove as I feel like I have more control, but lots of people prefer the microwave version, so I’ve got both sets of directions for you here.

Stove Top Directions

Put 1-2 inches of water in the bottom of a medium saucepan and heat it until boiling. Then, turn the heat down to medium and place the bowl with the egg yolk mixture on top of the saucepan to form a double boiler. Whisk the ingredients together until smooth and then switch to a spoon and continue stirring constantly until the mixture has thickened a bit and coats the back of a spoon. This usually takes about 5-10 minutes.

Microwave Directions

Cook in the microwave (in a microwave-safe bowl) for one minute. Remove the bowl from the microwave and whisk well. Cook for another minute and whisk again. Cook for 30 seconds and whisk again. Keep cooking in 30 second intervals until the curd thickens slightly and coats the back of the spoon. The length of time will depend on the power of your microwave.

An Optional Step: Straining the Custard

This Creamy Lime Mousse is so light and airy that it practically melts in your mouth. And when you add the simple step of straining the custard mixture before adding the egg whites, you can achieve true cloud-like consistency!

What Does Straining the Custard Accomplish?

One of the dangers of making any custard is that the egg yolks can start to scramble. This is why we cook the custard mixture slowly, either over a double boiler or in the microwave. But even when you do it as carefully as possible, the truth is that there will almost certainly be tiny little bits of yolk that harden a bit. Straining the custard mixture can help to clear out those little bits so that your Creamy Lime Mousse is absolutely silky smooth.

How to Strain the Custard

Straining the custard is very simple. All you do is place a fine mesh strainer over a mixing bowl and pour the custard mixture in before you add in the egg whites. As you pour it through the strainer, you’ll see little clumps catch in the strainer. Gently use the back of a spoon to push any liquid that gets trapped in the strainer through and then you are done!

How to Make Egg Whites Stiff

glossary of cooking terms: example of beating until stiff

Certain recipes will call for you to beat eggs whites until they are “stiff,” but what does this even mean? When you beat egg whites, what you are doing is adding air into them, so that they have more volume, which adds structure to a finished dish. There are two levels of stiffness when beating egg whites: soft peaks and stiff peaks.

Soft peaks are formed when you beat the egg whites until they are white, voluminous (about 3 times the volume of when they were unbeaten), and when you stop beating and lift up the beater, a peak will form, but then droop. Stiff peaks are when you continue beating the whites past the soft peaks stage and reach a point when they are not only glossy but when you stop the beater and raise it up, the peaks stand straight up, even when you turn the beater upright.

In the case of this recipe, you will briefly place the bowl with the egg whites and a pinch of salt over the saucepan of boiling water for about 20-30 seconds, just to warm them a tiny bit. Once you see any white beginning to form around the edges, remove the bowl from the beat. Then, using your hand mixer or standing mixer, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks.

How to Fold in Ingredients

folding egg whites into custard mixture

Once you have added all of that air into the eggs, you don’t want to lose it! That is why recipe calls for you to “fold” the egg whites into the yolk mixture.

To do that, you will use a rubber spatula or a large, flatter metal spoon, and will run the utensil along the side of the bowl and down to the bottom. Then, in a gentle movement fold the mixture at the bottom onto the top. Then turn the bowl 90 degrees and repeat. You will keep doing this, sliding down, gently folding over, and turning the bowl, until the mixture is just combined.

But Are the Eggs Safe to Eat?

Back in the day when this recipe was originally written, people did not stress about food safety as much as we do today, so the original version of this recipe called for you to fully cool the custard mixture before adding in the egg whites (it also did not put the egg whites over the heat of the double boiler). Doing it this way meant that the mixture could chill much faster.

But food safety is important to me, so I made two tweaks to make sure that the eggs were safe to eat: 1) I chose to warm the egg whites briefly over the double boiler and 2) I opted to mix the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture while it was still warm, so that those two exposures to heat could kill off any pathogens that might be there. Are these steps necessary? Honestly, probably not as this recipe has been passed down for generations and no one has ever gotten sick, but in my mind it is better to be safe than sorry.

Serving it Chilled or Frozen

One of the things I love most about this Creamy Lime Mousse is that you can serve it chilled or frozen. The chilled version is like eating little bites of lime-flavored clouds. It just melts in your mouth in the most soothing way. The frozen version, on the other hand, is obviously a bit more solid and has more of an ice cream or sherbet mouth-feel, but is equally silky and delicious. In my household, some of us prefer it frozen while others preferred chilled, so you really can’t go wrong!

creamy lime mousse

Creamy Lime Mousse

Jessica Braider
An adaptation of a favorite childhood dessert, this Creamy Lime Mousse is bright, fresh, and the perfect way to end a summer meal. And for those who have dietary restrictions that need to be met, this miraculous dish is also both gluten and dairy-free!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 25 minutes
Chilling Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 25 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 180 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 medium saucepan
  • 3 mixing bowls medium to large, or only two if you are skipping the straining step
  • 1 measuring cup
  • 1 Whisk
  • 1 spoon
  • 1 strainer optional
  • 1 electric hand mixer or standing mixer
  • 1 rubber spatula

Ingredients
  

  • 4 large eggs separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 limes juice and zest
  • 1/4 cup water boiling
  • 1 pinch salt

Instructions
 

  • Separate your eggs into two medium to large heat-safe mixing bowls. (Note: If you are going to use a standing mixer to beat your egg whites,then use the bowl of your standing mixer to hold those egg whites, as long as it is heat-safe.)
  •  Put 1-2 inches of water in the bottom of a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • In the bowl with the egg yolks, combine them with the sugar,lime juice and zest, and ¼ cup of boiling water.
  • Place the bowl on top of the saucepan of boiling water and turn the heat down to medium. Whisk the mixture until smooth then, using a metal or wooden spoon, stir constantly until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of the spoon.
    coating on back of spoon
  • Optional step: If you would like your mousse to be as silky smooth as possible, you can strain the custard. To do this, place a fine mesh strainer over a third mixing bowl and pour the custard through the strainer. With the back of a spoon, gently push all of the liquid through so that all that remains in the strainer are any little clumps that formed in the cooking of the custard.
  • Sprinkle your pinch of salt over the egg whites and place the bowl over the saucepan with boiling water for 10-20 seconds (as soon as you see any opaque white forming at the edges, take it off the heat immediately). Then, using an electric hand mixer or standing mixer, beat the egg whites on a medium-high speed until stiff.
  • Fold the stiff egg whites into the egg yolk mixture until just combined and then evenly distribute the mixture amongst six dessert dishes or ramekins.
    folding egg whites into custard mixture
  • Refrigerate or freeze, depending on your preference, for 4 hours.

Nutrition

Calories: 180kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 4gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 109mgSodium: 50mgPotassium: 75mgFiber: 1gSugar: 34gVitamin A: 175IUVitamin C: 10mgCalcium: 28mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Company/Entertaining, Dairy-Free, Freezer-Friendly, Gluten-Free, Holidays/Special Events, Kid-Friendly, Kosher, Low Sodium, Make-Ahead, Nut-Free, Vegetarian
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