It’s kind of like the cowboy who swaps out his black hat worn in fall and winter for a lighter color or straw hat for warmer seasons. So it is with desserts. As we approach summer we tend to move away from heavier, chocolaty desserts to lighter, brighter treats, and lemon is right there on top of the list. Recipes for Lemon Meringue Pie, Lemon Chiffon Cake, Lemon Squares, Lemon Tarts, Lemon Mousse and Lemon Cookies seem to come out of hibernation this time of year and appear regularly at Easter buffets, picnics and pool parties. Then there’s the luscious Lemon Angel Dessert with alternating layers of homemade lemon custard, angel food cake pieces and whipped cream. Light yet rich, it’s the perfect make-ahead dessert that can sit in the refrigerator for several days and it just gets better as it sits. There are tons of old-timey recipes for Lemon Angel Dessert where the egg yolks are cooked and the raw egg whites are folded in, which is a concern to many people. So, I was delighted to find this recipe for Lemon Angel Dessert that replaces the eggs whites with whipping cream. (The egg yolks are cooked with sugar and lemon juice.) By itself, the flavor and texture of angel food cake is unmistakable, but when layered and soaked with lemon custard and whipping cream, Lemon Angel Dessert is just pure heaven!
- 1 10-inch baked angel food cake
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup white sugar, divided
- 3/4 cup lemon juice plus 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
- 1/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream (reserving 4 tablespoons of whipped cream for topping)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 dessert or parfait glasses or mini trifle bowls
- Cut angel food cake into approximately 1 inch squares. Set aside. Whisk together 4 eggs, 3/4 cup sugar, 3/4 cup of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon lemon zest just until combined. Cook in double boiler or in sauce pan on medium low heat until thickened and coats spoon. Remove from heat. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of unflavored gelatin in ¼ cup of water and add to cooling lemon custard, stirring well to combine. In a mixing bowl with electric beater, beat heavy whipping cream, ¼ remaining sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla, forming stiff peaks.
- Pour 1-2 tablespoons of lemon custard on the bottom of each dessert glass. Arrange angel food cake pieces (pressing down) on top of custard. Spoon whipped cream over cake pieces. Continue to layer with custard, cake and whipped cream and end with one last layer of custard. (You should have at least 3 layers of custard, cake and whipped cream.) Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. When ready to serve, dollop 1 tablespoon of whipped cream on each dessert and garnish with thin slice of lemon rind or grated lemon rind.