Summer is fading fast here in Toronto. There is an unmistakable chill in the air and some of the leaves are starting to change. Fall is right on our doorstep it seems. But the calendar insists that summer is still here. So regardless of the weather forecast, we’re going to keep the good time rolling with refreshing and light summer desserts like this Labneh Mousse with Melon Confetti Salad. These delicate little cups feature an airy labneh mousse flavored with honey and vanilla caviar and topped with a melon salad dressed with a mojito-inspired simple syrup. This dessert is elegant, effortless, and unabashedly summery, so let’s make it.
We’re going to start things off by making the labneh. If you’re new to labneh allow me to explain what it is. Labneh is essentially strained yogurt. And all you have to do to make it is mix some yogurt with your chosen seasoning. Because we’re making a dessert today, I’m adding the caviar removed from a vanilla bean pod and 3 tablespoons of honey. Once the yogurt is mixed, place it in a bowl lined with 2-3 layers of cheesecloth. Form the cheesecloth in a bundle and suspend it from somewhere high up. I like to use my kitchen faucet for this. Let it hang for about 3 hours. You can let it hang longer if you would prefer a thicker labneh.
The kind of yogurt you use to make labneh matters. Make sure you select something with 3% milk fat or higher. Low-fat yogurt doesn’t work all that well. I’ve succeeded with every brand of Greek yogurt I’ve used, so you can’t go wrong there. For this mousse, I used Liberté brand plain yogurt with 5% milk fat.
When the labneh is ready keep it at room temperature. It will stiffen up in the fridge and make it very difficult to fold into the cream. And speaking of cream, let’s whip some up. Pour a cup and half of heavy cream into a bowl and whip on high using either a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk until stiff peaks form but be wary of over whisking. The cream will come out clumpy because it’s halfway to Butter Town.
Take the labneh out of its bundle and place it in a large bowl. Add a third of the cream and fold until the cream is well-integrated. Repeat with the remaining two-thirds of the cream. Transfer the mousse to a large piping bag fitted with a large round piping tip. Pipe the mousse into four small cups. Transfer the mousse to the fridge and let set for a minimum of an hour but two is better. While the mousse is chilling in the refrigerator, we can move on to the Melon Confetti Salad.
I will admit I dreamed up this Melon Confetti Salad with little more than looks in mind. Luckily, its taste outpaced its beauty in the end. This salad features honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon minced into a technicolor mixture. The salad is dressed with a mint-ginger-and-vanilla-flavored simple syrup and finished with a generous squeeze of lime juice. The result is a refreshing bite with a unique and unforgettable texture. It is the perfect companion to the light and delicate labneh mousse in that it adds dimension without overwhelming the rest of the dessert. Oh, and did I mention it looks pretty?
It does take time to mince this much melon but don’t let that deter you. This confetti salad is so much fun to eat that it is well worth the prep time. Think of it as the Dippin’ Dots of the fruit salad world. Remember Dippin’ Dots? Apparently, they still make them. I thought they didn’t survive the early 2000s.
I like to make the simple syrup while the labneh is draining. That way it has ample time to cool. Just be sure not to pop it in the fridge or the syrup will stiffen up and make it difficult to mix. If you want to make the syrup a few days in advance, you can store it in the fridge, just be sure to let it come back up to room temperature again before using it.
Pour a cup of water in a skillet. Add 1/2 a cup of raw sugar to the water along with a few slices of fresh ginger, 3-4 sprigs of fresh mint, and the vanilla bean pod from earlier. Bring the mixture up to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes. Pour the syrup through a fine mesh strainer into a heat-proof jar. Let it cool on the counter until it reaches room temperature. From there you can either use it or store it in the fridge for future use.
The salad comes together in moments when all the components are ready. Pile the melon into a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the syrup to the salad and the juice of one lime. Stir to combine. Transfer the salad to the fridge and let chill for 1 hour.
When the mousse is thoroughly chilled, top each glass with a couple of spoonfuls of the Melon Confetti Salad. I recommend using a slotted spoon when adding the salad. A little of the salad juices are desirable on top of the mousse but too much will drown and water log it. Garnish the mousse with a fresh sprig of mint and serve immediately.
And that’s everything you need to know about this Labneh Mousse with Melon Confetti Salad. Simple, light, and refreshing, this is the perfect dessert for the waning days of summer.
Labneh Mousse with Melon Confetti Salad
- 1 Large skillet
- 2-3 pieces of cheesecloth
- 1 hand or stand mixer
- 4 dessert cups
- 1 Large Piping Bag optional
- 1 large round piping tip optional
- 1 cup Greek yogurt**
- 1 vanilla bean split, caviar removed
- 3 tbsp honey
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1½ cups heavy cream
Melon Confetti Salad
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup turbinado sugar
- 4 slices fresh ginger
- 4 sprigs fresh mint
- 1 vanilla bean pod
- 180g (6oz) watermelon finely diced
- 180g (6oz) cantaloupe finely diced
- 180g (6oz) honeydew finely diced
- 1 lime juiced
- Fresh mint leaves for sprinkling
- Place the yogurt, vanilla caviar, honey, and salt in a bowl. Stir to combine. Reserve the vanilla bean pod.1 cup Greek yogurt**, 1 vanilla bean, 3 tbsp honey, ¼ tsp salt
- Line a separate bowl with 2-3 layers of cheesecloth. Spoon the yogurt mixture on top of the cheesecloth. Gather the edges to form it into a bundle. Suspend the bundle from a shelf or the faucet of your sink. Let drain for 3 hours.
- While the yogurt is draining, pour the water and sugar into a large skillet. Add the ginger, mint, and the reserved vanilla bean pod. Bring the mixture up to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 15 minutes.1 cup water, ½ cup turbinado sugar, 4 slices fresh ginger, 4 sprigs fresh mint, 1 vanilla bean pod
- Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer into a heat-proof jar. Set it aside to cool.
- When the labneh is done straining, pour the cream into a bowl. Using a hand or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the cream on high until stiff peaks form.1½ cups heavy cream
- Place the labneh in a bowl and add a third of the whipped cream. Fold the cream into the labneh until a cohesive mixture fforms. Repeat with the remaining two-thirds of the cream.
- Transfer the mousse to a large piping bag fitted with a large round piping tip. Pipe the mousse into four dessert glasses. Smooth the top of the mousse with the back of a spoon and chill for 1 hour in the fridge. ***
- Place the melon in a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the cooled syrup and the lime juice. Toss to coat. Chill until ready to use.180g (6oz) watermelon, 180g (6oz) cantaloupe, 180g (6oz) honeydew, 1 lime
- Using a slotted spoon, spoon the melon salad on top of the chilled mousse. Garnish with some fresh mint leaves and serve immediately.Fresh mint leaves