Vanilla Rhubarb Tiramisu


I love the process of planning a dinner party, and this particular Roman Holiday menu was so much fun to put together. Prep ahead food with great simple flavours and a cohesive kind of feel - yay! (Full menu and recipes coming soon). The dessert of Vanilla Rhubarb Tiramisu was a total hit - tart caramelised rhubarb layered with soft, pillowy, vanilla mascarpone custard and Vanilla Galliano soaked savoiradi biscuits...hmm wonder if there is any left in the fridge....

The vanilla I specify for most of this recipe is vanilla bean paste which is really thick, concentrated and extra-vanilla-y. If you can't find it, use double the specified amount of good quality vanilla extract.

625g, about 6-7 big stalks rhubarb, washed
2 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp water

3 eggs, separated
400g mascarpone
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

 1/2 cup water
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1 vanilla bean pod, split from top to bottom
1/4 cup Vanilla Galliano or liqueur of your choice
(rhubarb syrup)

300g savoirdi biscuits

300ml cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1/2 cup caster sugar
1 tbsp water

1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds, optional

Do not be put off by the number of ingredients or processes, they are all pretty straight forward and the entire dessert can be made the day before and just topped with whipped cream at the last minute - I promise you this is not difficult! First preheat the oven to 200˚C (400˚F) then chop the rhubarb into lengths just a little shorter than the savoirdi biscuits. Put in a  single layer in a roasting pan and sprinkle with vanilla, sugar and water. Cover with tinfoil and roast for 20 minutes. Remove tinfoil and roast a further 10-15 minutes until the rhubarb is soft enough that you can easily pierce through it with the tip of a knife, but not disintegrating. Leave to cool in the pan.

In a mixer whisk the egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla bean paste until really thick and pale, for about 5 minutes. Add the mascarpone and beat to combine. In a separate bowl beat just 2 of the egg whites with the remaining 2 tbsp sugar until they hold soft peaks. Fold egg whites into egg yolk mixture and try not to eat it...

Pop the water, sugar and vanilla bean paste or split pod in a small pot and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes and remove from heat. Remove pod if using and pour into a shallow bowl ready for biscuit dipping. Once it has cooled a little, add the Vanilla Galliano and the luscious rhubarb juices that surround your roast rhubarb. (Just drain off).

Rightiho you are ready for construction! You need a bowl around 2.5 litre capacity - I couldn't find a traditional one I liked so ended up buying an old light shade, filling the hole and re-purposing! First dunk a layer of biscuits into the liqueur syrup and line the base of the bowl - this should be a dunk long enough that the biscuit is fully covered, but not so long that it's getting soggy straight away. Once you have the first layer in, place a layer of roasty rhubarb on top. Plop a layer of mascarpone custard on top and smooth out then repeat with another layer of biscuits, rhubarb and custard. Cover with glad wrap and chill at least 8 hours or overnight. Just before serving whip cream with icing sugar and vanilla bean paste and fully cover the  mascarpone layer. I topped my tiramisu with praline then just before serving I gilded the lily a bit more by sprinkling on some lightly toasted slivered almonds for a bit of texture. If you want to make a praline, just line a small lipped baking tray with baking paper and put the sugar and water in a pot and whisk to combine. Heat over a medium-high heat without stirring until the sugar goes crystally white, then starts to turn a caramelly colour around the edges. You can give the pot a bit of a swirl but do not stir it, and don't put your fingers any where near as it is viciously hot. Once it has liquified and is a light golden colour pour off into your prepared tray and allow to cool. When cool and set hard you can bash it with the end of a rolling pin or whizz in a blender to your desired degree of chunkiness!