With layers of shortbread cookie crust, cloud-like lemon mousse, and tart lemon curd, this pie is both light and bright, and a great way to celebrate the upcoming arrival of spring.
Happy Pi (Pie) Day!
I’ve been saving this onesie just for today:
I haven’t always been on the Pi Day = Pie Day bandwagon, but this year I decided to hop on board. Why not? I always need another excuse to bake a pie.
But what pie would I share with you? Since we’re still a few weeks out from spring produce I decided against a fresh fruit pie. But I still wanted something that tastes like almost spring and just hold on a little longer. And that for me, is lemon. It’s light and bright, and the perfect accompaniment to warmer weather and longer days.
This recipe is a little fussy, I will admit that, although I did make quite a few changes from the original to make it easier. It starts with a tart lemon curd, and add to that gelatin, whipped egg whites, and whipped cream. And voila, you have yourself a lemon mousse that is downright heavenly.
The mousse is sandwiched between a crust of shortbread cookie crumbs and a lid of lemon curd. One bite and the memory of all that fuss will be gone. Totally worth it, I promise.
A few notes about this recipe:
>>The gelatin in this pie helps it firm up for easy and pretty slicing. If you are okay with a softer mousse and messier slices, feel free to omit this step.
>>If you’d rather, graham crackers make a fine substitution for shortbread cookies in the crust.
>>To make the cookie crumbs for the crust, place the cookies (or graham crackers) in a zipped plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Alternately, you can use a food processor.
>>If you’re new to the term “fold”, it is a method of gently incorporating egg whites into other ingredients without deflating them. This video shows you how to do it.
>>This recipe contains raw egg whites, as do all traditional mousse recipes. So are raw egg whites safe to eat? Well, salmonella can be found in 1 of 20,000 eggs so the risk is very small. However, if you’d rather avoid them, look into using pasteurized egg white substitutes or powdered egg whites. I have tried neither, so unfortunately I cannot say how well they will work in this recipe.
A light lemon mousse pie with shortbread crust and lemon curd topping.
- 3 cups (about 300 grams) shortbread cookies, crushed (see Notes)
- 1/4 cup (56 grams) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (235 grams) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 4 large eggs
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup (28 grams) cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons (1 envelope) gelatin
- Lemon curd (see above)
- 4 large egg whites
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
- 1 cup (237 ml) heavy cream
To make the crust:
- Combine the shortbread cookie crumbs and butter. Press into an ungreased 9-inch pie dish. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes. Let cool completely.
To make the lemon curd:
- Combine the butter, sugar, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and melt butter. Heat until steaming, but not quite yet boiling.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks with the cornstarch in a medium bowl. Slowly add the heated lemon juice mixture to the eggs in a slow and steady stream while whisking constantly. When fully combined, pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
- Place saucepan over medium heat and cook until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes, while whisking constantly. Pass lemon curd through a fine mesh strainer (to remove any lumps) into a small bowl or container. Place plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the curd and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Lemon curd may be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week.
To make the mousse:
- Place the water in a small saucepan and sprinkle with the gelatin. Let sit for 5 minutes until gelatin is absorbed. Place over low heat and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved. Add 1/2 cup of the lemon curd and stir until mixture is smooth and all lumps are gone. Remove from heat and stir in another 1 cup of the lemon curd.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or in a bowl with a hand-held mixer, beat the egg whites on high speed until foamy. With mixer on, slowly add sugar. Beat to stiff peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the lemon curd mixture in 3 additions.
- Using the same bowl and whisk, beat the heavy cream on high speed to stiff peaks. Gently fold the whipped cream into the lemon mixture in 3 additions, careful not to deflate the mousse.
- Dump the mousse into the prepared pie crust and smooth the top. Spread the remaining lemon curd (should be about 1/2 cup) on top of the mousse. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours. Garnish with whipped cream and lemons before serving, if desired. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Graham crackers may be substituted for the shortbread cookies, if desired.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit via Epicurious.