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Chilled Key Lime Mousse
“This refreshing chilled Key lime mousse is a perfect union of cream and foam, tangy lime and soft sweet custard. The method is simple but a little unusual—you make a custard with fresh Key lime juice rather than milk or cream. Key limes, which are about the size of a Ping-Pong ball, are wonderfully fragrant and more acidic than regular limes. They are available all year at well-stocked supermarkets. If you can't find them, by all means use regular limes.”
4 teaspoons finely grated lime zest (from 5 Key limes or 2 regular limes), plus more for garnish (see Tips)
⅔ cup fresh lime juice (from 18-20 Key limes or 4-6 regular limes)
¼ teaspoon salt
6 large egg yolks or pasteurized-in-the-shell egg yolks (see Tips)
7 large egg whites or pasteurized egg whites
1½ cups reduced-fat plain Greek yogurt
1Pour water into a small heatproof glass bowl and sprinkle with gelatin. Let stand until softened, about 3 minutes. Heat about 1 inch of water in a small skillet over low heat. Place the bowl in the pan and stir until the gelatin has dissolved and the liquid is clear. (Alternatively, microwave the gelatin mixture, uncovered, on High until the gelatin has completely dissolved but the liquid is not boiling, 20 to 40 seconds.) Set aside.
2Combine 1 cup sugar and lime zest in a food processor and process until the zest is finely ground. Transfer to a large saucepan and add lime juice and salt. Heat over medium heat until very hot, whisking until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat. Whisk egg yolks in a medium heatproof bowl. Whisking constantly, very slowly add the lime juice mixture, beginning with just a few drops and gradually increasing the amount.
3Return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, 2 to 4 minutes. Immediately transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large deep bowl if using a hand mixer). Beat starting on low speed and increasing to medium-high until very thick and pale, 3 to 5 minutes. With the mixer running, slowly dribble in the gelatin mixture and continue to beat on medium-high speed until the mixture cools to room temperature, about 5 minutes. Clean the beaters.
4Beat egg whites in another mixing bowl on medium speed just until foamy. Increase speed to medium-high and sprinkle in the remaining ½ cup sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat just until the egg whites hold stiff peaks when the beaters are lifted.
5With a whisk, fold yogurt into the lime custard. Then fold in the egg whites in 3 batches. Evenly divide the mixture among ten 8-ounce ramekins (or transfer to a 2½-quart round dish, such as a souffle dish).
6Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled and set, at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours. Garnish with more lime zest before serving, if desired.
Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Garnish with zest just before serving.
Equipment: Ten 8-ounce ramekins or 2½-quart soufflé dish
Tips: When we call for citrus zest (i.e., ½ teaspoon lemon zest) we are referring to the finely grated outer rind (not including the white pith) of the citrus fruit. Use a microplane grater or the smallest holes of a box grater to grate the zest. In some cases we call for long strips or threads of zest. To get long strips, peel the citrus with a vegetable peeler. To remove long threads, use a 5-hole citrus zester or remove long strips of zest with a vegetable peeler, then use a knife to cut into very thin strips.
The eggs in this recipe are not cooked. Consuming raw eggs poses a higher risk of foodborne illness, especially in people with weakened immune systems, children and the elderly. To minimize the risk, use pasteurized-in-the-shell eggs in place of regular eggs—look for them in the refrigerator case near other whole eggs.