Follow pastry chef and cookbook author Tish Boyle through the seasons as she shares what’s in her larder during every month of the year. Right now is when the best lemons of the season hit the market. Can you see where we’re going with this?
Lemon and blueberry has always been one of my favorite flavor combinations. In fact, a lemon-blueberry parfait was one of the first “fancy” desserts I remember making as a kid. The recipe came from Gourmet magazine from some time in the 1970s, and it was a meringue-based lemon mousse with blueberries folded into it. My mother and I served it at a dinner party, which was a big deal for me. Here’s my own version of that dessert: I amped up the lemon flavor in the mousse (I like my lemon on the tart side) and paired it with a fresh blueberry compote for a striking color contrast. I like to serve the parfait with a gingersnap cookie (I’m including my recipe, but you can use a good store-bought brand if you’re short on time) and some whipped cream.
- 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped crystallized ginger
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
- 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- granulated sugar, for dipping cookie tops
Fresh blueberry compote
- 1 pint fresh blueberries, divided
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons cold water
- 1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
- 8 large egg yolks
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
- 2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Pinch of salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Sweetened whipped cream
- 6 gingersnap cookies, homemade or store-bought
For the gingersnaps
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, shortening, sugar, and crystallized ginger at medium speed until light, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition and beating until well blended. Add the molasses and lemon zest and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed just until blended and smooth. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour, until firm enough to handle.
Preheat to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Place the dipping sugar in a shallow dish. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and dip one side in the sugar. Arrange each ball, sugar-side up, on one of the sheets. Using your palm, slightly flatten the balls. Repeat with the remaining dough and second baking sheet. Bake one sheet at a time for 9 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are puffed and browned. Let the cookies cool on the sheet set on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely.
For the compote
In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (138 grams/4.8 ounces) of the blueberries with the sugar and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the berries burst, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining 1 cup blueberries and the lemon juice. Let the mixture cool until just warm. Transfer the compote to a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate while you make the mousse.
For the mousse
Place the water in a small, heatproof measuring cup. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let the mixture stand for 5 minutes to soften. Set the cup in a pan of simmering water for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the gelatin is dissolved and the mixture is clear. Keep the cup of gelatin in the hot water, off the heat, until ready to use.
Set a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl and set aside. In a medium, heavy-bottomed, nonreactive saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until blended. Stir in the lemon zest and juice, salt, and butter and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens, 7 to 10 minutes (do not let the mixture boil, or it will curdle). The mixture should leave a path on the back of a wooden spoon when you draw your finger across it. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the warm gelatin mixture. Immediately strain the mixture through the sieve, pressing it through with a rubber spatula.
Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl one-third full with ice and water and set the bowl containing the lemon mixture in it (be careful that the ice and water doesn’t splash into the lemon mixture). Stir the lemon mixture frequently until it is slightly chilled, about 15 minutes. (The lemon curd can be prepared and refrigerated, covered, up to 3 days in advance.)
Whip the cream to soft peaks. Fold one-third of the whipped cream into the lemon curd, then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream.
For the assembly
Before serving, garnish each parfait with sweetened whipped cream and a gingersnap cookie.