The company I cater for is lucky because we get to do all the catering for the local art museum. A new exhibit just came to town that highlights the Art Deco movement of the 1920’s. The premier event was last night, and we did a seated dinner for 200 guests. These events are always fun because the menu is in the style of the exhibit. Since the Art Deco movement started in Paris, the food we made had french flair but was still seasonal. We also added some modern touches to the classics. The passed apps included foie gras mousse in puff pastry with a port wine gelee, beet and goat cheese napoleon with a mandarin reduction, and a seared scallop tostada.
The 3 course dinner started with a butter leaf salad with Bleu d’Auvergne dressing, braised short rib with crispy polenta, and Key Lime mousse with homemade graham crackers. I was excited to do the dessert because it was a fun opportunity to interpret the art deco theme. The idea was to make the dessert look like a cocktail from the era while using geometric shapes that highlighted the deco movement. I think we achieved this with the angular lines of the chocolate inside the martini glass and with the diamond-shaped graham crackers. The flavor of the mousse itself was important as well, I wanted the lime taste to pack a punch and not be overly sweet (kind of like a Gin Rickey). I played around with different mousse recipes, but decided I liked Key Lime juice better than just regular lime juice; the flavor was just brighter. I used Nellie & Joe’s Famous Lime Juice. Their juice from Key West is used a lot in restaurants and I think it is because it creates a more mellow flavor than just fresh squeezed limes (also, when you are making mousse for 200 people, zesting and squeezing hundreds of tiny key limes is quite the task!). Key Lime mousse is relatively easy to make; you basically start by making lime curd and then folding in whipped cream. The nice thing is that you can make the lime curd ahead of time and freeze or refrigerate it until you need it. I think this Key Lime mousse is a great dessert for this time of year. Citrus is just about to go out of season, and the brightness of the limes is great reminder of what’s to come as we are about to move into Spring.
Deco-dent Key Lime Mousse
Adapted from Gourmet
Yields 4 – 5 oz servings
1/2 TBSP Lime Zest – grated (If you can find Key Limes, great)
1/2 cup Key Lime Juice – can be fresh or Nellie & Joe’s
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
3 large Eggs
3 oz Unsalted Butter – cut into bits
2/3 cup Heavy Cream – Chilled
1/4 cup Powdered Sugar
*Garnish with Graham Crackers & Lime Wheel
- Begin by making the lime curd. Whisk together zest, juice, 1/2 cup sugar (not powdered), salt, and eggs in a small heavy saucepan. Set over medium heat and whisk frequently.
- When the mixture becomes warm, add the butter bits to the pan. Continue to whisk frequently until the lime curd becomes to thicken. It is important to whisk the whole time so the eggs don’t become too hot and start to scramble. This process should take about 10 minutes, but maybe longer depending on how hot your stove is.
- Once you can start to see the whisk forming marks, remove from the stove. The lime curd should coat the back of a spoon. The mixture should be really smooth, but you can strain it through a fine mesh sieve if you like. This step is not always necessary, but if you don’t want to see or taste the lime zest (at this point it will have turned brown from the heat) strain the curd. Transfer the lime curd to a clean, cool bowl.
- Cool down the lime curd. You can do this by placing the bowl over an ice bath, or placing in the refrigerator. At this point you have lime curd. This can be stored in the refrigerator (as long as it is tightly sealed), for up to a week or up to a month in the freezer.
- The day you would like to serve the mousse, prepare the cream. Place all cream into a bowl and beat until stiff. Add the powdered sugar and mix until combined. Remove the lime curd from the fridge and fold the sweetened cream into the curd. Spoon the mousse into the serving vessels and refrigerate 2 hours before serving. You can also place the mousse in a piping bag, and refrigerate the bag until you are ready to serve. Just pipe the mousse into the glasses when you are ready. This helps save space in the fridge!
- If you want that Deco flare, decorate the martini glass with chocolate. Melt 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips in a double boiler. Use a spoon to drizzle chocolate on inside of martini glass. You can rim the glass by dipping the rim into the chocolate (use a light hand), and then onto a plate that has graham cracker crumbs. Allow glass to cool in the refrigerator so chocolate can set. Then pipe in the mousse. Garnish with Graham Crackers. Recipe coming soon!