Friday, May 18, 2012

Key Lime Mousse-scapades

A few weeks ago we had a fundraiser for the place I volunteer at. This is a cookoff fundraiser where four teams make things and you try each and vote. Well, one of the desserts was a key lime something and my sister and my mom and I all wanted to make it. Of course, as with many things, we couldn't exactly remember what it was to look up the recipe. They weren't sure it wasn't sherbet and I thought it was a chilled mousse. My niece wanted to have it for her birthday party! So, Aunt Suz goes looking for the recipe. Easier said that done!

I ended up finding a few VERY different recipes for key lime mousse and decided to pick two of them and make them both and we could taste test! Sounded like a good plan to me and after all, I had all day to make it and the recipe said 30 minutes prep and 4 hours chill time on one and only 20 minutes prep and 2.5 hours chilling on the other so at most I would invest an hour in my niece. That is worth it, right? Sigh, famous last words!

 To start with, what exactly are key limes? Well, I run to Walmart and they have limes and Persian limes but no Key limes. Oh great. Well, buy the Persian ones (just in case!) and the other stuff I need and run to Kroger. Hmmm....limes and Key limes (no Persian ones here!) buy the Key limes too and head home. Decide to start with the Key limes because after all, that is what the recipe calls for, right? Oh, my! First problem! Have you ever tried to zest a Key lime? A little tiny, itty bitty, hard to hold on to without getting your fingers in the way, Key lime? Yeah, well, almost 30 minutes later, I FINALLY had the limes zested and my 2.5 tablespoons of zest created and the limes cut in half. This is when I began to realize that maybe I was going to be investing a bit more in Hannah that I had thought!

Okay, I LOVE Pampered Chef. Well, some of their stuff, some stuff is just too gadgety for me (and no, that is probably NOT a word! Oh well!). But their citrus juicer is amazing! I use it to make lemonade or whatever a LOT! But you can see how TINY the little Key limes were in it and you can see how MANY I had to juice! And I needed a whole cup of key lime juice! Eventually, I had a pile of "trash" key limes, but I don't like to waste things so....I took the whole pile, put it in a quart mason jar and covered with vinegar. Put on the lid, shake a couple times and let sit for two weeks and I will have a nice start to a lime degreaser for my niece also!

 FINALLY, I was ready to start cooking! Well, first I had to crack some eggs...and make sure not to waste the shells! I toss mine in an empty gallon jug and cover with water. I am experimenting with it! I have read that it makes a great fertilizer for tomatoes so we will see!

As I worked, things seemed to be flowing pretty smoothly and I got the custard made, added the zest and covered with saran wrap to keep a scum from forming. Put that in the fridge and I am ready to whip the cream. How hard is that? I have done it a dozen times this year, right? Right! Yeah, sure! No problem!

 You start whipping the cream and then you add a mixture that had gelatin dissolved in it. Well, as I added, it turned to liquid! So much for my whipped cream! Now I had mush! Then lumpy watery stuff! This is NOT the stiff peaks the recipe called for! Oh No! What am I going to do? Well, the answer should NOT have been turn the mixer from the medium speed it called for to high! I now have an entire bowl of nice sweet whipped butter!

 Okay, back to the drawing board. Scrap that, be thankful I bought extra materials and start over! Wait! It did it again! Okay, move on to recipe number two while leaving the mixer running on medium and seeing what happens. Fast forward 20 minutes and see it finally did form stiff peaks!

Recipe two looked MUCH less like a custard at first. More juice and less zest. It looked nice and smelled nice. This recipe went great! Down to the whipped cream. Yes, problems again. See, my two year old decided to wake up from his nap right as I turned the whipped cream on to whip and I thought I would have plenty of time to run upstairs, grab him and get downstairs before it was ready. Um, yeah, not so much! Of course, with no sugar in this, I ended up with a NICE pat of butter and a nice amount of buttermilk. Whew, I still have enough cream to start over again!

Of course, after all the pictures I took I forgot to take pictures of the finished product! And the final verdict was that recipe one was yucky! Tasted more like eggs than lime. Recipe two was great! Very yummy and light so I ended up making that recipe with key limes and with the Persian limes so that we could taste the difference between the two! Boy am I glad! Turns out that the Persian lime was by far the overall favorite! Nice tart flavor, lots of flavor and plenty of perfect texture.

So, for those brave enough to is the recipe and remember, I would just use any limes...and I think I might try lemons too! Because after all, this is now an adventure, right?

1/2 tablespoon grated key lime zest
1/2 cup fresh squeezed key lime juice
1/2 cup sugar (I used my vanilla sugar because after all, I make it I might as well use it!)
pinch of salt
3 large eggs
3/4 stick unsalted butter cut into small bits
2/3 cup heavy cream (watch closely or you will have butter!)

Whist together zest, juice, sugar, salt and eggs in a heavy saucepan. Add butter and cook over medium low heat whisking frequently until thick enough to hold marks of whisk. It says to force through a fine-mesh sieve but I didn't take the time! Put mixture into a bowl and quick-chill in an ice bath, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes.

Beat cream until it hold stiff peaks (watch closely!) then fold gently but thoroughly into custard. Spoon into glasses (or miniature disposable shot glasses in fun colors because that is COOL). I also used my Pampered Chef medium scoop because it was exactly the right amount and was definitely less messy!

Chill 2 hours minimum (It claims max of 12 but I would say overnight was fine)


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