Royal Austrian Desserts: Lemon Balm Orange Mousse

Serves 8
The richness of whipping cream and the gentle fragrance of lemon balm add a new twist to this favorite citrus flavor.

  • 8 eggs, separated
  • 11/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 4 four-inch sprigs lemon balm, tied in a bundle
  • Zest of 2 large oranges
  • Juice of 4 large oranges, strained
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons (2 packages) unflavored gelatin
  • 6 tablespoons water, divided
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • Lemon balm sprigs for garnish
  1. In the top of a double boiler, beat together the egg yolks and all but 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Add the bundle of lemon balm sprigs, orange zest, orange juice and cornstarch. Mix well. Cook over gently boiling water, whisking continuously, until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Remove the lemon balm.
  2. Soak the gelatin in 3 tablespoons of cold water, then heat to dissolve. Add to the orange mixture. Whip the cream until stiff peaks form and fold into the orange mixture.
  3. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Over medium heat in a very small saucepan, stir together the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and 3 tablespoons water until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat and boil the mixture 3 to 4 minutes, or until a candy thermometer registers 220°F. Gradually add the hot sugar syrup to the egg whites, beating until stiff peaks form. Fold into the orange mixture.
  4. Pour the mousse into eight wine or parfait glasses and freeze until firm. Remove from the freezer 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with orange slices and lemon balm sprigs.

Ron McNeely is a Colorado-based writer and gourmet cook.

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