Saturday, September 28, 2013

Frozen Vacherin Torte with Rhubarb Cream and Strawberries

I've been given the nod to share this lovely dessert with you. That does not always happen. A recipe must pass two tests before I post it here. It must, of course, make a dish that's tasty, but, over and above that, it must be doable. Left to my own devices, I've been known to come up recipes that are too different or difficult for others to try. I have folks who help prevent that from happening. This vacherin passed the taste and doability tests with flying colors. A vacherin, by the way, is a torte made with layers of meringue and flavored frozen cream. This is one of my favorite spring dessert and this version is made with a luscious rhubarb cream that nicely balances the sweetness of the meringue layers it separates. While not simple to make, the vacherin is doable. If you have an electric mixer and a pastry bag, you have everything you need to successfully make this wonderful dessert. Time here may be a problem. The meringue layers must be made a day before the torte is assembled, and, once that is done, the vacherin must be frozen for at least eight hours before it is cut. Don't despair. The good news is that once it's made, it can be kept, frozen, for four or five days. That makes it a wonderful make-ahead dessert for company. The sides of the torte are not usually iced, but I always cover mine with a thin layer of whipped cream to cover up mistakes I always seem to make. This recipe was originally developed for Bon Appetit magazine. It's a sound recipe, but there are a few pitfalls you should be aware of. You'll have to be careful when you fold the rhubarb puree into the egg yolks. If you follow instructions, you'll end up with a runny cream that spills over the torte layers. Don't use all of the puree. Add only enough to make a cream that has the consistency of a frosting or whipped cream. If it runs, let the layers set in the freezer and then cover them with whipped cream. Once cut, the vacherin melts quickly, so plan to get it to the table as soon as it comes from the freezer. By the way, if you are uncomfortable using a pastry bag, simply spread the meringue within the paper circles and you'll be fine. I really hope you'll try this. It would be perfect for Mother's Day. Here's the recipe.

Frozen Vacherin Torte with Rhubarb Cream and Strawberries...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite adapted from Bon Appetit magazine



Nonstick vegetable oil spray

6 large egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Pinch of salt

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Rhubarb cream

2 cups 1/2-inch pieces fresh rhubarb (from about 1 pound)

3/4 cup halved hulled strawberries

1/2 cup + 1/3 cup sugar, divided use

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

5 large egg yolks

1 cup chilled whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sweetened strawberries (optional)

Whipped cream for icing (optional)


1) To make meringues: Position racks in top third and center of oven and preheat to 250 degrees F. Using 8-inch-diameter bowl or plate as guide, firmly trace 2 circles onto 1 sheet of parchment paper and 1 circle onto second sheet of parchment. Place papers, marked side down, on 2 baking sheets. Spray paper with nonstick spray. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl until frothy. Add cream of tartar and salt; beat until soft peaks form. Beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, then beat until whites are stiff and glossy. Beat in vanilla. Working in batches, spoon meringue into large pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch plain tip. Starting in center of each traced circle and holding tip just above paper, pipe meringue in spirals to fill circles, forming 3 rounds. Alternatively, spoon and level meringue inside circles. Bake meringues until firm, dry, and pale golden, about 2 hours. Turn off oven; leave meringues in oven with door closed at least 4 hours or overnight.

2) To make rhubarb cream: Combine rhubarb, strawberries, 1/2 cup sugar, water, and lemon juice in saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat and simmer until rhubarb is very tender, about 15 minutes. Puree mixture in processor. Chill until cold, about 1 hour. Whisk yolks and 1/3 cup sugar in large metal bowl to blend. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bowl to touch water). Whisk until mixture thickens and instant-read thermometer registers 140°F for 3 minutes, about 7 minutes total. Chill mixture until cool, about 15 minutes. Working a 1/2 cup at a time, fold rhubarb mixture into yolk mixture, until mixture resembles a frosting or heavy whipped cream. You will have extra rhubarb cream. Using electric mixer, beat whipping cream and vanilla in another large bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold cream into rhubarb mixture in 2 additions.

3) Place 1 meringue disk in 9-inch diameter springform pan. Spread 1/3 of rhubarb cream (about 1 1/2 cups) over meringue, leaving 1/2-inch plain border. Top with second meringue disk, then 1/3 of rhubarb cream. Top with remaining meringue disk and rhubarb cream (cream will not spread to sides of pan). Freeze until cream is firm, about 8 to 24 hours. Release cake pan sides. Optionally, cover sides of pan with a light coat of whipped cream. Serve torte with sweetened strawberries, if desired. Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

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