Limoncello is famous Italian liqueur. As a typical liqueur it contains plenty of sugar and is thus not suitable for a very low-carb lifestyle. Therefore, I developed a quick, sugar-free low-carb “Limoncello”, which is used for seasoning this airy dessert mousse.
First, the grated, yellow lemon peel is steeped in vodka at least for overnight. The fluid is then carefully pressed through a strainer and added to a mixture of mascarpone and sweetener. The dessert is finally lightened with beaten egg whites, which round the flavors and make the texture as airy and fluffy mousse.
This adult-only dessert is great for any New Year’s Eve party. The whole family dessert can be made by substituting lemon juice for vodka.
Tips for making the Low-Carb “Limoncello” Mousse
The most important thing is to use only the yellow peel of the lemon, not the bitter white pith. There does exist special equipment for grating citrus fruits, but I use normal, small grater, as you can see from the photo above. Actually, before developing this dessert, I didn’t realize how important it is to grate only the yellow peel and not the white pith, even this is emphasized always and everywhere. The yellow part of the peel has very characteristic smell and flavor, which are different from the lemon juice.
Be sure to choose firm lemons for grating. I learnt it the hard way when developing this dessert. Usually I buy the softest organic lemons I can get because I use them for squeezing the juice, but for grating the peel the firm lemons are the best ones.
As a rule of thumb, I got one tablespoon grated yellow peel per lemon, but this naturally depends on the size of the lemon.
As an impatient person, I let the peel steep in the vodka only for overnight. When making real Limoncello, the peel is steeped at least for two weeks. Nothing prevents you from letting the peel steep longer than for overnight. Actually, it’s my plan to develop a recipe for proper low-carb Limoncello liqueur in the future. For that I would let the peel steep for a couple of weeks and finally combine the fluid with a sweetener.
If you don’t have powdered Natvia or Swerve sweetener, you can use for example 1/2 cup (120 ml) powdered erythritol and 5 drops stevia. Check the sweetness and add more stevia if needed.
Again, if you are concerned about using raw egg whites, you can use pasteurized egg whites, or egg white substitute made from pasteurized egg white powder and water.
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Per serving if 4 servings in total:
Per serving if 6 servings in total:
Per serving if 8 servings in total:
My experiments with the Low-Carb “Limoncello” Mousse
For some time I had had an idea to develop “Limoncello” mousse for the perfect springtime dessert. Then I was thinking that maybe the mousse would be even better for New Year’s celebration. I wanted to develop proper low-carb Limoncello liqueur, and use it in a mousse-like dessert. Well, in the end I decided to try out a quick version of low-carb “Limoncello” and use that for the mousse. Proper liqueur I could make later.
I was going to need only a small amount of “Limoncello” for seasoning the dessert. I grated the yellow peel from a few lemons, put the peel into small jars and added some vodka to each jar. Then I tagged the jars with pieces of tape where I had written down the amounts of the ingredients. I wanted to know what would be the best ratio between the lemon peel and vodka. My kitchen looked like a tiny chemistry lab
Because Limoncello comes from Italy, it felt natural to take mascarpone as base for the dessert. Well, some experiments I made with ricotta — another Italian goody — but it simply didn’t taste good to me, not even if I added some whipped cream to round the flavors and give some richness. I also tried cottage cheese which I had processed smooth in a food processor, but to be honest, the flavor was quite awful and far too bitter… Not recommended.
I know many recipes for mascarpone-based mousse with some added whipped cream. I was thinking whether beaten egg whites would be better. They might reduce the heaviness of mascarpone and give fluffy, airy consistency. As much as I am a big friend of fat, the combination of mascarpone and whipped cream felt somehow an overkill.
Right after Christmas there was no mascarpone or ricotta in our nearest grocery store. And that’s a huge store. Luckily, I had two small tubs of mascarpone in my fridge. I was wondering what to add to complement the greasy mascarpone. First I tried an egg white which I had beaten to stiff peaks. One wasn’t enough, so I added a second one. The consistency was perfect, but I was somewhat afraid that the fluid will separate if the dessert is stored for a long time. After two days the consistency was still good, though a bit flat, but without any separation of any fluid. However, I recommend to serve this dessert immediately. The separation could occur anyway if this dessert is stored even for a day. The “Limoncello” part can be steeped for longer time, but the ready mousse is better to be eaten quickly. Well, this dessert is so delicious that I don’t expect that to be any issue…
As final fine-tuning, I added a dash more of low-carb “Limoncello” and some more sweetener before I was completely happy with the recipe.
Ideas for variation
For alcohol-free “Limoncello” you can substitute lemon juice for vodka. After grating the yellow peel, squeeze 2 tablespoons juice from a lemon. Add the grated peel to the lemon juice, cover and let stand at the room temperature for overnight. Make the dessert as directed.
Instead of lemon, you can use lime or orange. Certainly, then the dessert is not “Limoncello” anymore, it’s rather “Limecello” or “Arancello”. Anyway, the result sure is as delicious as with lemon!
I still would like to try what kind of ice cream this mousse would make if I just churned it in the ice cream maker.
Don’t throw the zested lemons away. Squeeze the juice and use it for example for Lemon Parsley Chicken, or even better, for Simple and Easy Low-Carb Lemon Curd. Then you can use the leftover yolks as well: simply replace one egg with two egg yolks. Or, use the juice for delicious New Year’s Eve party drinks!
In the future I’m definitely going to develop a recipe for proper low-carb Limoncello liqueur. It might just take some time and patience… I think I need more especially the latter one…
~~ Wishing the most wonderful New Year to you all! ~~
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