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Lemon Mousse Cakes in White Chocolate Shells are miniature desserts made with lemon cake, lemon mousse, and fresh berries. Best of all, they’re wrapped in a gorgeous, hand-painted, fully edible white chocolate shell!
I am so excited to share these Lemon Mousse Cakes with you today!
Sometimes my dessert ideas are directly inspired by things I’ve seen in magazines or online, sometimes they’re the result of endless experimentation in the kitchen, and sometimes they just come to me, fully-formed, as a complete idea that just miraculously works out the first time I test it.
This last category, the elusive “perfect idea that totally works and looks exactly like what I pictured in my head,” is the rarest of all, but when it happens, it is MAGICAL.
I hope you understood that monster of a run-on sentence, because apparently I’m too excited to remember all the rules of grammar. Sorry (not sorry)—lemon mousse cakes have me feeling all sorts of ways.
These gorgeous, single-serving desserts have 3 main components: a bottom layer of moist, tangy lemon cake, a thick top layer of fluffy lemon mousse, and then an outer shell of hand-painted white chocolate that encloses the mousse and cake.
I topped mine with an assortment of fresh berries, and I loved the simplicity in contrast to the patterned white chocolate. You could also add some sprigs of edible flowers, to really hammer home the fresh springy vibe, and a sprinkling of powdered sugar to finish the whole thing off. Or, go the other direction and top it with whipped cream and candied lemon peel—that would also be perfect.
The white chocolate shell is easier than you’d think. You do need one piece of specialty equipment (if “equipment” is even the right word for cheap strips of plastic acetate!) The shells are made using something called cake collars, and these are the ones I used. They’re shiny plastic strips that you can cut down to whatever size you need.
I used them twice in this recipe: first to wrap around the cake layer to contain the mousse, so that the mousse sets in a nice, even cylinder right on top of the cake. Once the mousse is set and the collar is peeled away, it’s used again to wrap a thin layer of white chocolate around the mousse cake. Again, a short chilling time, and then the collar is peeled away a second time to reveal a beautifully thin, shiny white chocolate shell.
The brush stroke effect is really easy, too. You might have guessed this, but I used a brush (duh) to stroke (duh) random streaks of yellow candy coating onto the acetate strips, then covered the whole thing in white chocolate. The less you think about it and plan, the better. They’re meant to look organic, haphazard, and free-spirited, so just get in there with a brush and make a mess! The end result will look intentional and beautiful, I promise.
The most FUN part of this dessert is actually the deconstruction! The first time you crack open that white chocolate shell, it’s SO satisfying. A few pieces fly off, a few berries tumble down, and you’re exposed to a lush layer of vibrant lemon mousse. Take a bite of this, maybe with a few juicy berries on top, and mmmmm, you’re off to the races. I would also recommend eating downwards until you hit lemon cake on the bottom, too, for maximum textural satisfaction.
If white chocolate, lemon, or berries aren’t your thing, you can use this technique and these base recipes to make a million different variations, so don’t let the details stop you. And if you give them a try, make sure you drop by my facebook or instagram and share pictures of what you make!
Lemon Mousse Cakes in White Chocolate Shells
For the Lemon Cake:
- 1 lemon zested
- 9.3 oz granulated sugar (1.33 cups)
- 2.5 oz unsalted butter
- 3 fl oz vegetable oil
- 3 oz powdered lemon gelatin (like Jell-O brand, not sugar-free)
- 2 eggs at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp lemon extract
- 8.5 oz all-purpose flour (2 cups)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 1 cup buttermilk at room temperature
For the Lemon Mousse:
For the White Chocolate Shells and Assembly:
- 10 inches acetate cake collars (3 tall and 3-inch cake collars
- 4 oz yellow candy melts
- 16 oz white candy melts
- 3 pints fresh berries
To Make the Lemon Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 Line a 10x15” rimmed baking sheet with parchment and spray it with nonstick cooking spray.
- In the bowl of a large stand mixer, combine the lemon zest and sugar and rub them together between your fingertips, until the sugar is damp and very fragrant. Add the butter, oil, and powdered lemon gelatin, and mix on medium speed with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, then add the vanilla and lemon extracts.
- In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer running on low, add a third of the flour to the large mixing bowl, and once it is mostly mixed in, add half of the buttermilk. When the buttermilk is mixed, add half the remaining flour, then the rest of the buttermilk, then finish up with the last of the flour. Mix until just a few flour streaks remain, then finish stirring the cake batter by hand. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl well to make sure everything is well-mixed.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer. Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes, until it starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, and the top bounces back when lightly pressed with a fingertip. Let cool completely before proceeding.
- Use a round cutter about 2.75” to cut 10 circles out of the lemon cake. (Save the rest of the scraps to make cake balls, crumble them on top of ice cream, or just munch on them as you assemble the mousse cakes!) Place each cake round on a 4” cardboard cake circle for easier assembly.
- Wrap a 3” high acetate cake collar around each cake circle, making sure that it fits snugly and doesn’t gap at the bottom. Tape each cake collar securely.
To Make the Lemon Mousse:
- Combine the white chocolate chips and 1.75 cup of cream in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring every 30 seconds, until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the salt, lemon extract, and lemon zest, and let it cool to room temperature.
- While you wait for the white chocolate mixture to cool, prepare the gelatin. Whisk together the gelatin and cold water in a small bowl, and set it aside to let the gelatin absorb the water. When the white chocolate is at room temperature, microwave the bowl of gelatin for 10-15 seconds, until it is melted. Whisk the melted gelatin and white chocolate mixture together.
- Whip the remaining 1.75 cups of heavy cream to firm peaks. Fold half of the whipped cream into the white chocolate, and once it’s incorporated, gently fold in the remaining whipped cream.
- Scoop the mousse on top of the lemon cakes, filling the collars almost to the top. Leave about ½-inch of room at the top. Use the back of a spoon to smooth out the top of the mousse. Refrigerate the tray of mousse cakes until the mousse is firm, at least 3 hours.
- Carefully unpeel the cake collars from around the outside of the mousse cakes. If you need to re-use these collars for the white chocolate shells, wash and dry them well before using.
- Melt the yellow and white candy coating in separate bowls in the microwave, stirring frequently during melting to prevent overheating.
- Dip a clean paintbrush into the yellow candy coating and paint brush strokes on one of the acetate cake collars. You can paint as many or as few as you’d like, or even create other designs and patterns. When you’re done with the yellow, spoon some of the melted white chocolate onto the acetate in even intervals.
- Using an offset spatula, spread the white chocolate in a thin layer over the entire acetate strip, so that all of the edges are covered. It’s okay if it goes past the edges. Allow the chocolate to sit for about 1-2 minutes, until it just begins to get matte around the edges.
- Lift up the strip of acetate and carefully place one edge against the side of the mousse, pressing the wet white chocolate directly against the edge. Wrap it entirely around the mousse and press the ends together. Tape the outside of the acetate strip to secure it around the sides of the mousse. Place the dessert in the refrigerator to fully set the chocolate for at least 20 minutes. Repeat with the remaining mousse cakes.
- Once the white chocolate is firm, peel back the tape and carefully unwind the strip of acetate, peeling it off of the chocolate. Once all of the lemon mousse cakes are unwrapped, add assorted fresh berries on top. Serve chilled, and enjoy!