The Musette: lemon cream

It’s not just my beloved who believes no meal is complete without dessert, all my French friends are of similar minds. They don’t necessarily want something hearty, often preferring something small, yet rich and decadent. This fits the bill.

I love this dessert because I can prepare it well in advance. It tastes delicious 15 minutes after it has come out of the oven, when it’s still warm and the centre a bit runny. Equally, about half an hour later, when it’s cooler and set but still soft and cloud-like. Or, the next day which, after a night in the fridge, means it’s deeply set, thick and fudgy. Yes, that’s three desserts for the price of one!

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • 3 organic lemons, zested and juiced (6 tbsp)
  • 275g (10 oz) golden caster sugar
  • 6 medium organic eggs
  • 250g (9 oz) mascapone or double-cream
  • pinch sea salt

Method

1. Finely grate the lemon zest, then juice the lemons and add both to the sugar. Typically, I’ll peel the zest and mix with the sugar in my food processor before adding the juice.

2. Beat the room-temperature eggs, pinch of salt and marscapone together, ensuring there are no lumps.

3. Combine the contents of both bowls, mix to thoroughly combine, cover with cling film (plastic wrap) and leave in the fridge for up to two days.

4. Preheat oven to 150°C/130°C fan/(300°F/265°F fan)/gas mark 2 and boil the kettle. Pour the mixture into 8 ramekins or similar small dishes, put the dishes onto a paper towel in a larger roasting tin and pour in the hot (not boiling) water until it comes half-way up the pots.

5. Bake for approx. 25 minutes or until they are just set but still have a bit of a wobble in the middle. They will set more as they cool.

6. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving, or leave them for a couple of hours.

7. If you make them in advance, take them out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.

8. I would typically serve these with a small buttery (shortbread) or crunchy (florentine) biscuit.

The Musette: frozen Eton mess

I like to keep a few desserts in my freezer which I can bring out when required, particularly when friends call round at the last moment. This has got to be one of the world’s easiest but most delicious desserts and, better still, is a no-churn affair. You mix everything together, fold it into a loaf tin, freeze and, voilà you’re done until you whip it out to impress. Being dairy, I can’t eat it but everyone assures me it’s divine and it’s so easy to customise.

Ingredients (serves 6 hungry cyclists)

For the ice cream cake

  • 300ml (1 1/4 cups) double (heavy) cream
  • 1 tbsp finely grated organic orange zest
  • 1 tbsp orange flavoured liqueur, I used Cointreau
  • 100g (4oz) good quality, shop-bought meringue nests

For the strawberry sauce

  • 10-15 ripest strawberries from the punnet
  • 1 tbsp finely grated organic orange zest
  • 2 tbsp orange flavoured liqueur, I used Cointreau

To serve

500g (1lb) fresh strawberries, hulled and macerated in another  – why not? – tbsp Cointreau

Method

1. Line a 450g (1lb) loaf tin with clingfilm, making sure you have enough overhang to cover the top later.

2. Whip the cream until thick but still soft. Gently fold the liqueur and orange zest into the cream.

3. Crumble the meringue nests – you want a mix of sand and rubble – and fold these in, too.

4. Pack this mixture into the prepared loaf tin, pressing it down with a spatula as you go, and bring the clingfilm up and over to seal the top, then get out more clingfilm to wrap around the whole tin. Freeze until solid, which should take around 8 hours, or overnight. It’ll happily sit in the freezer for a month.

5. To serve, unwrap the outer layer of plastic wrap, then unpeel the top and use these bits of long overhanging wrap to lift out the ice-cream brick. Unwrap and unmould it onto a board and cut the frozen meringue cake into slabs to serve.

6. Just whiz up the sauce ingredients in your liquidiser or food processor.

7. I like to zig-zag a little strawberry sauce over each slice, and sprinkle the strawberries alongside on each plate.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. Swap out the orange zest for lemon, the strawberries for raspberries and the Cointreau for Limoncello and you’ve a completely different dessert. Don’t forget to sieve the raspberry sauce to eliminate the pips and you may also need 1-2 tsp sugar to sweeten it.

2. Exchange the orange zest for 30g (1oz) dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), finely chopped into splinters and the Cointreau for coffee liqueur or dark rum and serve with a chocolate sauce made from:-

  • 250ml (1 cup) double (heavy)cream
  • 125g (4 oz) dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp coffee liqueur or dark rum

Heat the cream and chocolate over a gently heat, whisking as the chocolate melts, taking the pan off the heat once the chocolate is almost all melted. If the mixture gets too hot, the chocolate will seize, whereas it will happily continue melting in the warm cream off the heat. Add the liqueur, still off the heat, and whisk again to amalgamate the sauce completely. Pour into a jug, whisking every now and again until it cools to just subtly warm.

3. If chocolatesauce isn’t your thing, serve with a good quality caramel one!