Citrus and Caramel Mousse Parfaits


Tiers of tart, jewel-toned tangerines, grapefruits, oranges, and lemons alternate with layers of silken caramel mousse in this simple, stunning dessert. Elegant lace cookies, easily made from ground hazelnuts, enhance the contrast of textures -- and the temptation.


For the Hazelnut Lace Cookies

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 ½ teaspoons packed light-brown sugar

  • 1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup

  • Pinch of salt

  • ¼ cup cake flour (not self-rising)

  • 1 ounce hazelnuts (about ¼ cup) toasted, skins rubbed off with a damp cloth, and finely ground, or 2 tablespoons hazelnut flour

For the Mousse

  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons cold water

  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup

  • 2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces

  • 1 ¾ cups heavy cream

  • ½ cup creme fraiche

  • Pinch of salt

For Assembling

  • 3 oranges, preferably Cara Cara

  • 2 blood oranges

  • 1 red or pink grapefruit

  • 2 tangerines

  • 1 Meyer lemon


  1. Make the cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until butter has melted and sugar has dissolved. Stir in flour and ground hazelnuts. Drop teaspoons of batter, spaced 2 inches apart, onto a baking sheet lined with a nonstick baking mat. Bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool. (Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.)

  2. Make the mousse: Place 2 tablespoons cold water in a bowl, and sprinkle with gelatin. Let stand for 5 minutes.

  3. Bring sugar, corn syrup, and remaining 1/4 cup water to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Wash down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Cook, swirling gently once mixture begins to color, until dark amber, 12 to 13 minutes.

  4. Remove from heat. Carefully add butter, a few pieces at a time, whisking after each addition until butter melts (caramel will bubble). Add 1/4 cup each cream and creme fraiche. Add salt, and whisk until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Add gelatin mixture, and stir until combined. Let cool completely, stirring occasionally.

  5. In a bowl, whisk remaining 1 1/2 cups cream and 1/4 cup creme fraiche until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into caramel. Cover mousse, and refrigerate for 10 minutes (or overnight).

  6. Assemble parfaits: Cut peel and pith from citrus. Slice fruit along membranes to release segments.

  7. Layer segments and mousse in 6 serving glasses, beginning and ending with segments. Refrigerate, covered, until mousse is set, at least 1 hour (or overnight). Serve with lace cookies.

Cook's Notes

This dessert may be assembled up to a day before serving. Try any combination of citrus in these parfaits, preferably a mix of vibrant hues.

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