By Barbara Beltrami
When I think of summer desserts, the word “chiffon” immediately springs to mind and conjures up visions of airy cakes and tarts as light as sundresses or curtains billowing in summer breezes. Fruit gives them their pastel colors… raspberry and strawberry pinks, lime greens, lemon yellows and ripe lavenders, while egg whites and/or gelatin give them their bulky substance.
Lemon Chiffon Cake
YIELD: Makes 10-12 servings
2 1/4 cups cake four
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
5 egg yolks
3/4 cup cold water
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
7 to 8 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 325 F. In a large bowl, sift the cake flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Make a well in the center, then pour in the oil, egg yolks, cold water and zest. Beat 2 minutes on medium speed, until very smooth. In another large bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold the first mixture, a little at a time, into the egg whites until completely blended. Do not beat or stir. Pour into an ungreased 10 inch tube pan.
Bake for 50 minutes, then increase the heat to 350 F and bake for about 15 more minutes, until the top springs back when you dent it with your finger. Remove from oven, invert pan onto a cake rack and let cool completely. Carefully loosen cake from sides of pan with spatula or knife and remove from pan; turn right side up and serve with lemon sorbet.
Lime Mousseline Tart
YIELD: Makes 6-8 servings
A 9″ Baked Pie Shell
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
1 cup of sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
4 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest
Sprigs of fresh mint for garnish
In a large bowl, combine gelatin, half a cup of sugar, salt, water and lime juice; add egg yolks and beat on medium speed until well blended; transfer to a large saucepan and, stirring constantly, cook over low heat until gelatin is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Stir in lime zest, cover and refrigerate until mixture begins to thicken, about 30 minutes. In large bowl, beat egg whites on high speed until fluffy, gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar until egg whites form stiff peaks. Using a spatula, gently fold in the gelatin mixture, a little at a time, until well blended; transfer to pie shell and refrigerate. Garnish with sprigs of mint and serve with mango sorbet.
Strawberry mousseline tart
YIELD: Makes 6-8 servings
1 graham cracker pie crust
A 1/4 ounce envelope of unflavored gelatin
2 cups fresh strawberries, washed and hulled (local, if available)
3 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
A generous pinch of salt
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Prepare pie crust according to package directions. Soften the gelatin in a cup of cold water. In a food processor or blender, puree a cup of strawberries until smooth. Lightly beat the egg yolks, then mix them with half a cup of sugar, salt and lemon juice in a double boiler. Stirring frequently, cook in simmering water until mixture thickens enough to coat a metal spoon, about 5 minutes; remove from fire. Add softened gelatin to yolk mixture, stir until dissolved, stir in pureed strawberries, then let cool.
Beat egg whites until soft peaks form; gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, then continue beating until stiff peaks form; using a rubber spatula, gently fold into the cooled berry mixture, then pour into the crust and smooth with the spatula. Halve the remaining cup of strawberries and arrange, cut side down, in a pattern over the mixture. Chill until firm and serve with iced coffee or iced tea.