This creamy lemon mascarpone dessert combines the creamy richness of mascarpone cheese with the zesty bright flavors of lemon! Made into a sweet velvety mousse and then layered parfait style with Limoncello soaked ladyfingers, it’s perfect for spring, summer or anytime you feel like something lemony!
Creamy lemon mascarpone dessert is the perfect balance of tangy citrus with the luxurious texture of cheese whipped into a silky lemon mousse and then layered into glasses with soaked Limencello ladyfingers.
It’s one of my favorite lemon recipes to serve as a light and refreshing after dinner dessert during the spring and summer, although it would be just as great served at a holiday brunch, too!
While I love these Nutella tiramisu parfaits anytime of the year, during warmer weather this lemon version is so satisfying. If you love this easy lemon tiramisu cake, you will love this easy lemon mascarpone dessert!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Light flavor: Lemon juice and zest add a tart taste to the creamy mascarpone mousse creating the best light, airy flavor.
- Full of texture: The mascarpone cream is sweet and silky and the Limoncello soaked lady fingers are soft with a slight crunch for a satisfying dessert experience.
- Easy to make: With only a handful of ingredients and in less than an hour, you can serve these easy lemon mascarpone parfaits!
- No-bake: Perfect for spring, summer or even special occasions like Mother’s Day when you need something quick without turning on the oven!
Ingredients for Lemon Mascarpone Parfaits
- Mascarpone cheese: Rich and creamy, this is a soft Italian cheese that is used traditionally in tiramisu. You can even make your own Homemade Mascarpone!
- Heavy cream: Whole cream, whipping cream or heavy whipping cream that is chilled and at least 30% fat content.
- Fresh lemon juice: You will need the fresh juice from one lemon.
- Lemon zest: Adds fresh citrus taste to the creamy cheese mixture.
- Powdered sugar: Adds light sweetness to the whipping cream and helps create the airy light texture.
- Lady fingers: You will need 8-10 ladyfingers cut in half. I love to use my homemade ladyfingers!
- Limoncello: This is an Italian liqueur made from lemon zest. You can also use lemon juice if preferred. A little water will dilute the liquor for dipping the ladyfingers.
How to Make a Creamy Lemon Mascarpone Dessert
To start, in a large chilled mixing bowl using an electric mixer beat the heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form.
Next, in a different medium to large bowl, add the mascarpone cheese and sugar. Mix to combine then add the lemon juice and zest only a little at a time, beating to combine the lemon whipped mixture.
Using a spatula, gently fold the mascarpone mixture into the cream until completely combined. Cover the bowl and chill.
While the creamy lemon mascarpone is chilling, in a small bowl combine the water and Limoncello.
Now it is time to assemble the creamy lemon mascarpone dessert! Using four small glass serving dishes add a spoonful of the creamy filling to one glass, then add the lady fingers first dipped in the Limoncello mixture.
Add some additional creamy mixture on the top.
Repeat with the other three glasses until all the ingredients have been used to make the parfaits.
Chill in the refrigerator before serving. Before serving, top with lemon zest or chopped white chocolate.
- More lemon: Fold in a small amount of lemon curd with the cheese mixture for even more lemon taste or add it to the top of each dessert cup!
- No ladyfingers: If you cannot find ladyfingers, try cubed sponge cake, angel food cake or even pound cake.
- Mascarpone cheese: If you are unable to find mascarpone cheese try a combination of softened cream cheese and ricotta cheese.
- Lemon tarts: Instead of layering into parfaits with ladyfingers use the filling for easy tarts like I do in these orange cheesecake tarts.
- Don’t skip chilling time: You will need to chill this dessert twice. First the cheese mixture needs to be chilled and then the dessert again after it is all layered together. This allows for flavor and texture development.
- Chilled mixing bowl: A chilled mixing bowl is best for whipping the cream into stiff peaks.
- Rubber spatula: This is best for folding the whipped cream mixture and mascarpone mixture together without losing any of the airy volume.
- Best serving dishes: While any small dish or cup works, a clear footed glass or mini trifle dish allows you to view the beautiful layers of the lemon dessert.
Make Ahead and Storage Information
Since this lemon mascarpone dessert needs time to chill it is a great make ahead dessert! To make in advance, prepare as directed and store covered tightly in the refrigerator up to two days before serving.
To store leftover parfaits, cover and store up to three days, although I find it best within 2 days.
Do not freeze leftovers as texture will change upon thawing.
Can you substitute the Limoncello?
Instead of Limoncello you can just lemon juice. If you find that too tart for your tastes, add up to a tablespoon of sugar when combining the lemon juice and water. It is such a small amount of Limoncello, though, you may want to give it a try!
Can I use bottled lemon juice?
No, I don’t recommend it. Using fresh lemon zest and fresh lemon juice will add the best vibrant, citrusy taste that doesn’t compare to the muted taste of a bottled lemon juice.
Will lemon juice curdle whipped cream?
In this case it won’t create any curdling reaction because we are using cold ingredients and adding the lemon juice only a small amount at a time. Follow the sequence in the recipe instructions and your whipped lemon mascarpone dessert will turn out great!
How to serve the lemon mascarpone cream dessert?
Top with lemon zest, shaved white chocolate, fresh berries or even mint leaves before serving.
Can I make this in a pan instead?
Yes! Instead of individual servings, double the recipe and layer in a 9×13 inch pan starting with the cream, then a layer of soaked ladyfingers and end with another layer of the lemon mascarpone mousse. There is no need to halve your ladyfingers just lay them whole in the pan.
Creamy Lemon Mascarpone Dessert
- 1 cup mascarpone
- ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons cream whole, whipping or heavy cream (at least 30% fat content) (200 grams total)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (approximately 1 lemon)
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- ⅓ cup powdered sugar
- 8-10 lady fingers (halved)
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons Limoncello or lemon juice
- In a large bowl beat the cream until stiff peaks form.
- In a medium / large bowl add the mascarpone and sugar, mix to combine, add the lemon juice a zest a little at a time beating to combine.
- Fold the mascarpone mixture into the whipped cream until completely combined. Cover the bowl and chill 20-30 minutes.
- In a small bowl combine the water and Limoncello or lemon juice.
- In four small/medium serving dishes or glasses layer starting with a spoonful of the cream filling, then lady fingers dipped in the Limoncello mixture, continue with another layer. Repeat with the other glasses. Refrigerate 30 minutes before serving. Top with lemon zest or chopped white chocolate before serving if desired. Enjoy!