The scene: Marvin’s IGA ice cream section. The time: 5:00 Saturday afternoon. The crime: Finding something creamy, dreamy and ass-expanding to scoop in a melty mound atop one crispy sugar cone. The victim: Arkansas’ own Yarnell’s Lemon Ice Box Pie ice cream. The verdict: Guilty as charged.
The first taste of this ice cream brought back a fond memory of my mom’s lemon ice cream pie, which was a mixture of frozen lemonade and vanilla ice cream poured into a graham cracker crust and refrozen (Mom, if you’re reading this, you may have to correct my fuzzy recollection.) The pie wasn’t a year-round staple in our freezer, but rather a special occasion pie, suitable during summer months only. The frozen lemonade would give the ice cream a crystaly texture, and the graham cracker crust added a sweet crunch.
Saturday night, Hubby and I both kept remarking on how GOOD this ice cream is. Not too sweet, not too tart, with ribbons of crushed graham crackers and vanilla cream running throughout. Tough to beat, right? Yes, tough – but not impossible.
Per usual, my gears started to turn and I began brainstorming on how to take the essential flavors of this tasty ice cream – and Mom’s ice cream pie – and turn it into something even more decadent, more outrageous and more sinful. This is an ongoing problem. Why do I DO that? Why can’t I just be satisfied? Self diagnosis: I am a stage four food-one-upper. Help me.
I began to create my own version of this pie, leafing through cookbooks and food magazines – and my trusty old recipe folder – for inspiration. My old recipe folder sits next to a box of old photos, which inevitably becomes a distraction every time I look for a recipe. In the photos, I found pictures of our trip to Scotland, where we visited the Walker’s Shortbread factory and bought a virtual stockpile of shortbread seconds and broken bits. “Ooh, Waaalkeeer’s…,” I thought to myself, “…Bingo.”
I was also aiming to make a lighter, fluffier version of the original pie filling, so I opted for a mousse. This mousse is a combination of homemade lemon curd (don’t get scared – it’s crazy simple) and whipped cream. Lemon curd is traditionally English, if I’m not mistaken. It’s an intensely-flavored, thick, buttery spread that is delicious on toast, muffins or scones. It can also be found in the jelly section of any grocery store, but believe me – you want to make your own. It’s exponentially better than anything out of a jar.
Adding a thin, glossy layer of raspberry jam over the crust before pouring in the mousse was also a must. I’m a sucker for fruit flavor combinations (my personal faves are lemon-raspberry and peach-strawberry), so the opportunity to do so was not passed up. The addition is a subtle one, imparting a slightly sweet berry background to the heady lemony flavor. To compliment the jam layer, fresh raspberries and whipped cream adorned the top. Oh yeah.
If you like, you can make only the mousse. It’s wonderful spooned into parfait cups with fresh fruit and whipped cream, or eaten alone. Heck, you could make only the lemon curd and be happy as a scone-scarfing Englishman. But to fully experience the – well, the experience – I suggest going all the way, with the shortbread crust and the whipped cream on top. A few extra laps around the park are worth it. I promise. Enjoy!
Lemon Mousse Tart with Raspberries
For the crust:
3 pkgs. Walker’s Shortbread (about 24 biscuits)
4 Tbs. melted butter
For the mousse:
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice (from 3 lemons)
1 Tbs. lemon zest
7 egg yolks
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed
3/4 c. sugar
2/3 c. heavy cream
For the raspberry filling and topping:
3 Tbs. seedless raspberry jam
1 pint fresh raspberries
1 c. heavy cream, whipped
Heat the oven to 350°. In a food processor, pulse the shortbread until fine and crumbly. With the food processor running, pour the melted butter through the top spout and allow to fully incorporate into the shortbread crumbs. Dump the buttery crumbs into an 11″ tart pan or an 11″ springform pan, and carefully press the crumbs into the pan and up the sides. You can use a small glass to help uniformly press the crumbs into a crust. Bake the crust for 15 minutes and allow to cool to room temperature.
In a double boiler, combine the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and egg yolk. Over simmering water, cook the mixture over moderately high heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter until it’s melted and fully incorporated.
Using a mesh strainer, strain the lemon curd into a bowl and press a sheet of plastic wrap directly over the top of the curd’s surface. Refrigerate the curd for at least 2 hours.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, whip the 2/3 cup of heavy cream until firm. Fold the whipped cream into the chilled lemon curd, and return the mousse to the fridge.
Once the crust is fully cooled, spread the seedless raspberry jam over the crust. Gently pour the lemon mousse over the crust and smooth the top. Return to the fridge for at least one hour to fully set.
Decorate the tart with the remaining 1 cup of whipped cream and fresh raspberries.
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