A few years ago, I began making birthday treats for friends’ birthdays. In the last two years, two challenges stand out— Bee’s baked Alaska cake and this lemon mousse I made for Heather’s birthday party last night.

I am no cake decorator; but my skills aren’t bad; however, I wasn’t quite prepared for the mousse’s curveball. Heather’s friend Amalia emailed me the recipe and when I read it over, it was straight-forward enough. Keeping it cold and firm was going to be a challenge given Sacto’s warm weather. I was intrigued by it as I don’t have a large fruit-based repertoire outside of pies, scones, and muffins.

The recipe by Dorothy Lacefield was featured by Oprah and can be found here.

It tasted wonderful—depth of flavor but also, fluffy with a great lemon-y flavor but not tart. The filling was light and creamy and was not overly sweet. As I’m dedicated to sharing what I’ve been making, I admit this recipe was a little humbling. This is not false modesty or request for coo’s— my attempt tasted great but couldn’t keep the filling and topping from rolling down the sides. I ended up using some left-over white chocolate frosting; I don’t recommend it. Look at the sad little stars on top.

Even though it chilled in the fridge for a total of 4 hours, if left at room temperature for any amount of time, it starts to ooze its filling.

I chose to use a tart pan with a removable bottom in lieu of a pie tin. Now I know why she used one— it holds the filling in, and secondly, it gives a ridge for the whipping cream to slide up against. Without that, mine slide off the edges and down the sides— poor sad lemon mousse. So, next time, it’s either a pie tin or a springpan with overnight chilling.

I followed the whipped cream recipe, but will be sticking with my trusted one. This one did not hold its shape. It should be applied immediately prior to serving, which can be tricky if you’re transporting the dessert to another location.

I used gingersnaps in lieu of graham crackers. It’s my personal preference; I just have a thing about graham crackers [shrugged shoulders].

The lemon curd and the lemon topping was made a few days ahead and stored in the fridge. Remove the lemon topping from the fridge at least half hour before attempting to spread it on top the mousse.

Okay, like I said, I’m a bit embarrassed by its appearance. However, my friend was delighted and in the end, that’s all that matters. I have lots of ideas how to improve presentation next time round. Also, it’s a lot of pie; smaller sizes might be more appropriate (in the 6″ or even individual serving tins).