Light and creamy desserts such as this cube of cool raspberry mousse are perfect for summer.  And this one is also a perfect choice for the August 1 Swiss National Day, Switzerland’s yearly celebration of its independence and neutrality.  I love the contrast of the lightly gilded raspberry and the “Swiss Made” label that has an image of William Tell’s crossbow on it.  It’s also perfect because really sweet fresh raspberries are coming into season and they’re so much more vibrantly flavorful than the frozen kind.  The accompanying recipe is for a large raspberry mousse cake just in case you don’t have any cube molds.

One 9-inch cake, about 12 generous servings


Sponge Cake

4 large eggs, separated

3/4 cup sugar, divided

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Pinch of salt

1 cup all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)

Raspberry Mousse

3 half-pint baskets fresh raspberries

1/3 cup water

1 1/2 envelopes unflavored gelatin

1 15-ounce container part-skim ricotta

2/3 cup egg whites (from about 4 to 5 large eggs)

3/4 cup sugar

One 1/2 pint basket fresh raspberries to garnish the dessert, optional

One 9-inch round cake pan, 2 inches deep, sprayed with vegetable cooking spray plus a 9-inch spring form pan

  1. Set a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  2. For the cake batter, whisk the egg yolks in a medium mixing bowl, just to break them up.  Whisk in half the sugar in a stream, then whisk in the vanilla and lemon zest.  Continue whisking for about a minute, or until the yolk mixture is pale and aerated.
  3. Combine the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Whip the egg whites with the whisk attachment on medium speed until they are white, opaque, and just beginning to hold their shape.  Increase the speed to medium-high and whip in the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar in a slow stream, continuing to whip the egg whites until they hold a firm peak.
  4. Use a large rubber spatula to fold the yolk mixture into the egg whites.  Sift over and fold in the flour a third at a time.
  5. Scrape the cake batter over the peaches in the pan and smooth the top of the batter.
  6. Bake the cake for about 30 minutes, or until the cake is well risen and firm, and a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean.
  7. Cool the cake on a rack for about 5 minutes, then invert it to a rack.  Turn the cake right side up so that the paper is underneath.  Cool completely on a rack.
  8. While the cake is baking, puree the raspberries in a food processor.  Strain away the seeds, letting the raspberry juice collect in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and lower to a steady, gentle simmer.  Cook the raspberry juice until it is reduced to 1 1/2 cups.
  9. When the cake has cooled, trim the top away and use a long, sharp serrated knife to cut it in half horizontally.  Use a plate or other round pattern to trim the layers to an even 8-inch diameter so that their sides won’t be visible in the finished cake.  Place one of the layers in a 9-inch spring form pan.
  10. To finish the mousse, put the water into a small heatproof bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on the surface.  Allow to soak for 5 minutes, then place the bowl over a small pan of simmering water and allow the gelatin to melt.
  11. Combine the cooled raspberry puree, the gelatin and the ricotta in a food processor or blender and pulse to mix smoothly.  Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl.
  12. For the meringue, half-fill a medium saucepan with water and bring it to a boil over medium heat.  Combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk a couple of times to mix.  Place the bowl over the pan of boiling water and whisk gently until the egg whites are hot and the sugar is dissolved.  Place on mixer with the whisk attachment and whip on medium-high speed until the egg whites are cooled completely – when you touch the outside of the bowl it won’t be at all warm.
  13. Fold the meringue into the raspberry mixture.
  14. Pour half the mousse over the cake layer in the pan.  Place the second cake layer on the mousse and pour in the remaining mousse.  Smooth the top of the mousse with a metal offset spatula.
  15. Chill the dessert to set the mousse, then cover the pan with plastic wrap.  You may leave it in the refrigerator for up to a couple of days before serving.
  16. To unmold the dessert, insert a sharp paring knife between the mousse and the inside of the pan.  Scraping against the pan, not the mousse, run the blade all around the dessert.  Undo the clip of the spring form side and lift it off.  Insert the knife an inch under the dessert to detach it all around from the base.  Use a wide spatula to slide the dessert off the spring form base onto a platter.  Decorate with the raspberries, if used.

SERVING:  Use a sharp, thin-bladed knife dipped in hot water and frequently wiped, to cut the cake into wedges.  It needs no accompaniment.

STORAGE:  Keep the cake refrigerated until you intend to serve it.  Wrap leftovers in plastic and refrigerate.