Lemon Curd Mousse Cake

I think this might have been the first time I used purchased shortbread cookies to make a crust (as opposed to graham crackers or chocolate or ginger cookie crumbs) and I love the way they work. To make the shortbread cookie crumbs for the crust, seal the cookies in a heavy plastic bag and use a rolling pin to crush them into fine crumbs. This is a light textured, pretty cake. Perfect for a baby or wedding shower or anytime you want something lemony and creamy. Bon Appetit chose to show the cake with simple slices of fresh lemon. If you would like to candy them, as I had originally written the recipe, see the Candied Lemon recipe and directions at the end. I once decorated it with candied violets, which is another option. They can be found through India Tree.

Serves 12

(a version of this was first published in April 2005 Bon Appetit)

Image posted courtesy of photographer Tina Rupp

Lemon Curd:

  • 2 1/3 cups sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces


  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 cups shortbread cookie crumbs, such as Lorna Doone, (about 7 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted


  • 5 tablespoons water
  • 4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin, such as Knox
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
  • Pastry bag, coupler and small star tip, such as Ateco #18
  • Lemon slices, cut into quarters (garnish)

For Curd:

Mix sugar and cornstarch in heavy large saucepan. Gradually add lemon juice, whisking until all cornstarch dissolves. Whisk in eggs and yolks. Add butter. Stir over medium heat until curd thickens and boils, about 12 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl. Chill until cold, at least 6 hours. (Can be made 1 week ahead. Press plastic wrap onto surface of curd and refrigerate.)

For Crust:

Position rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom of 8-inch-diameter springform pan with nonstick spray. Blend cookie crumbs and butter in small bowl. Press onto bottom of pan. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Cool.

For Mousse:

Pour 5 tablespoons water into small saucepan. Sprinkle gelatin evenly over. Let stand until gelatin softens, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place 1 3/4 cups lemon curd in large bowl. Stir 3/4 cup curd in another small saucepan over medium-low heat until very warm.

Stir gelatin mixture over medium-low heat until dissolved and liquid is clear (do not boil). Whisk warm gelatin mixture into 3/4 cup warm curd. Gradually whisk gelatin-curd mixture into curd in large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until whites are thick and glossy. Fold whites into curd mixture in 3 additions. Using same beaters, beat cream in another medium bowl until peaks form. Fold into egg white-curd mixture in 3 additions. Pour enough mousse over cooled crust to fill pan completely. Pour remaining mousse into small bowl and reserve. Cover and chill mousse cake, reserved mousse, and remaining curd overnight.

Using long thin knife or thin icing spatula, cut around edge of cake to loosen. Remove pan sides. Gently spread 3/4 cup of remaining lemon curd over cake. Transfer reserved mousse to pastry bag fitted with small star tip. Pipe rosettes of mousse around top edge of cake. Chill cake until ready to serve. (Can be made up to 8 hours ahead.)

Arrange lemon slices between rosettes. Cut cake into wedges.

Alternate Decoration – Candied Lemons


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 water
  • 1 lemon, scrubbed


Stir sugar and water together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, slice lemons 1/4-inch thick, removing any seeds. Add lemon slices to simmering syrup and cook about 5 minutes or until the skin is tender and the flesh is just turning translucent. Let lemons cool in syrup. (May be made 1 week ahead and refrigerated in airtight container). To serve, quarter two or three of the best lemon slices and arrange as described in recipe.

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