Vanilla Bean Mousse

On a more serious note..

Today I found out that one of my patients passed away over the weekend.

That’s never happened before.

See, as a medical student, the experience of death and dying is very limited. Odd how it works out that way but let me explain. The sickest patients are monitored in the ICU, or Intensive Care Unit, whether it be Surgical, Medical, Pediatric, or Neonatal. Many of these patients come to the hospital in already critical condition and so are not extensively screened by more people than is necessary and only end up on the normal hospital floors after the crisis has been averted. The patients who are dying but well enough to go home or to another facility are transferred as soon as possible to maximize their time in a comfortable location.

This time, however, a patient had come into my team’s care from an outside hospital. He was sick, quite ill from previous medical conditions, and he had an infection on a prosthetic heart valve that, we eventually figured out, was sending disease all over his already sick body. We tried everything we could. Tried to get him on the appropriate antibiotics to fight the infection, tried to get him surgery to replace the sick valve. But time and his body were working against our medical interventions.

About a week and a half after I took on his case, we had to transfer him to the Medical ICU.

Several days later, the infection was causing a series of complications, occurring too rapidly to tend to one before the next arose and before the team knew it there were too many. Fixing one problem would only make another worse. His life stood at a standstill at the edge of death and then, eventually, it gave up.

Over the course of the couple of weeks I took care of him, I got to know his wife and daughters. It pained me to see him on the day he would eventually expire, his wife exhausted and still crying at his bedside. He knew it was nearly time. I fought back tears as I stood there, silent, because no words could enter my mouth and I don’t think there was anything to say anyhow. It pains me a little bit more now to know that I wasn’t there when the time actually came, though I’m not sure how I would have handled it.

I was in shock as I discovered the news. I sat thinking but again no words came.

This afternoon when I came home, all I wanted was to eat something comforting. Luckily, I had this stored in the fridge.

This mousse is light, airy, and filled with a wonderful vanilla flavor. I made it over the weekend with the vanilla beans my little brother so kindly bought me for Christmas. To complement the flavor I added in just a touch of lemon zest and the mousse transformed into a fresh bite. It’s comforting and reminiscent of summertime which is what we could all use over here on the East Coast. It’s freezing out! If you’re looking for something quick for a dinner party, date night, or just because this is the recipe for you.

Vanilla Bean Mousse
adapted from Sugarlaws

Makes 4-6 servings, depending on size.


  • 2 egg whites, room temperature preferred
  • 2/3 c granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 c heavy whipping cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/4 tsp grated lemon zest

Using a stand, hand, or sheer strength, beat egg whites until foamy. Continuing to beat, slowly begin adding 1/3 c sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks. Set aside.

In a separate bowl (but beaters can be left dirty), whip heavy cream, remaining 1/3 c sugar, seeds scraped out of the vanilla bean, and lemon zest until soft peaks. Err on the side of stiffer here.

Fold together egg and cream mixture. Divide into servings and refrigerate for as long as you can maintain your composure. Sugarlaws recommends at least 6 hours or overnight. I can’t say mine lasted that long.

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer today, friends! Happiness on Friday. I promise!



  1. Velva Said:

    Cheers to you-It’s tough, no doubt. keep it in perspective.

    The vanilla mousse looks absolutely delightful. Smooth and silky-Yum.


  2. this mousse looks great..i love vanila bean and would definately try this version.

    sorry to hear about your patient.

  3. So sorry to hear about his passing, but I’m glad he had a wonderful support system, including you! with him in the last stage of his life. This mousse looks absolutely comforting. Seriously can anything beat vanilla beans?

  4. Joanne Said:

    Oh babe I am so so sorry to hear this! I can’t imagine how it must feel to lose a patient…someone who you’ve invested so much emotion into. Ugh. I wish I could hug you!

    Thank god you had this mousse in your fridge. I can’t imagine getting through without something like this.

  5. Sues Said:

    Awww I’m so sorry to hear your sad news 😦 I hope this vanilla mousse helped you feel a bit better. It certainly looks delicious!!

  6. Your mousse looks good, light and fluffy!

  7. astheroshe Said:

    even with all your troubles ! it looks great! This challenge borders on professional pastry chef level..This mousse looks fantastic..stealing the recipe! 🙂

  8. GrammaSusan Said:

    Sorry to hear your sad news. I was an R.N. in the operating room for many years and its never easy when a patient dies. Life is so precious.
    You have a sweet compassionate heart! 🙂

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