Luzia’s Strawberry Rhubarb Tiramisu, Absent The Strawberries

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Christiana Georgehttps://www.thetarttart.com/
Welcome to The Tart Tart, my not-so-tart take on food, writing, and photography. I decided to start up this sucker after repeated nagging from Chris, my fiance, who cannot understand why the sight of a farmer’s market would send me into ecstatic convulsions (okay, total overstatement. I can be quite the histrionic at times). With that said, my interests, though chiefly in food, also span fashion, design, literature, and photography. So don’t mind the seemingly non sequitur odds and ends I toss in posts at times.

For this post, I’d like to introduce my friend Luzia.

Luzia and I met about a year-and-a-half ago on the bus ride to the starting point of the Inca Trail. For the next four days, we shared the unforgettable experience of hiking the 26-mile-long trail together, culminating in our arrival at the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu. There were 14 of us in our group, but out of everyone, Chris and I got along best with her and her boyfriend Berni. When we parted ways, we kept in touch since we knew we’d be taking approximately the same path south, and about three months later, the four of us finally met for dinner in Ushuaia, the southernmost town on the South American continent. If that’s not poetic, I don’t know what is. They actually continued on to Brazil for Carnaval before heading back to Switzerland, whereas we ended our trip in Buenos Aires. And that was that.

But actually, it wasn’t, because she and I kept in touch. We’ve kept up a pretty consistent correspondence for the last year, exchanging lengthy emails, in English, and despite it not being her native tongue, she still rocks it. (How do the Swiss do it? She also became practically fluent in Spanish, whereas I at best mastered five phrases.) We are modern-day pen pals.

I’ve always loved exchanging letters with faraway friends. When I was nine, after my family had moved back to the U.S. from Hong Kong, I kept in touch with my best friend by exchanging long, handwritten letters. We kept up our penpalship for years, and I remember it to this day with much fondness. That’s what this correspondence with Luzia has felt like.

Luzia’s Strawberry Rhubarb Tiramisu, Absent The Strawberries

Coincidentally, Luzia and Berni also love to cook. About 6 months ago, I asked if she could share a Swiss recipe with me, something traditional that I could make for the blog. She returned with two, one she called Älplermagrone, or Macaroni for the Alpine Herdsman, which, hahaha, I had a pretty good laugh over because the direct translation is just too funny. The other was this strawberry rhubarb tiramisu, which, while it isn’t Swiss at all, is her favorite dessert. That pretty much clinched it. Once rhubarb season rolled around, I would make it. She warned me that it looks disgusting and recommended that I serve it in glasses. Thanks for the tip, Luzia! I am passing it on to the rest of you.

All in all, I loved it! If this recipe is any indicator, we Americans like our desserts much sweeter than European standards. Stewed rhubarb, according to Martha Stewart, calls for 2/3 cup of sugar per 10 ounces of rhubarb (or over a cup per pound). Luzia recommended 5 tablespoons, or just a little over 1/4 cup, per pound. That’s a pretty dramatic difference. In the end, I settled on 6 tablespoons for my pound of rhubarb and that felt just about right to me. The rhubarb retained its pucker, but was nicely balanced by the creamy sweetness of the mascarpone cream and ladyfingers (that’s what we call them, Luzia, odd-sounding, I know), as well as a few splashes of Grand Marnier. It was such a perfect variation of a normally decadent dessert, and really ideal for the springtime.

I have to point out that unfortunately, I am doing this recipe a disservice because I didn’t include the macerated strawberries. My access to most fruits has been limited to the bland-tasting crap being shipped over from who-knows-where, and I know that for this dessert, Luzia is quite particular about using only local, fresh strawberries. I will make amends by doing it right next time, but readers, please take note.

Luzia’s Strawberry Rhubarb Tiramisu, Absent The Strawberries

Luzia, thanks so much for everything! Not only for the recipe, but also for your steadfast communication and friendship. I envision you, Berni, Chris, and I sitting together one day over a home-cooked meal, and it will be great. Promise me that we will make it happen?

LUZIA’S STRAWBERRY RHUBARB TIRAMISU

Serves 6 to 8
Adapted from my friend Luzia

Since I didn’t make the strawberries, I doubled the stewed rhubarb portion.

Ingredients:
For the stewed rhubarb:
1/2 lb. rhubarb
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp Grand Marnier liqueur

For the strawberries:
1/2 lb. strawberries, plus extra for garnish
1 Tbsp sugar

For the mascarpone cream:
2 eggs, separated
2 Tbsp sugar
8 oz. mascarpone

12 to 16 ladyfingers

Directions:
For the stewed rhubarb:
In a saucepan over a low flame, add the rhubarb, sugar, vanilla, and water and cook until soft, 7 to 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, and remove about 1/4 cup of the liquid. Set it aside. Stir in the Grand Marnier. Set aside to cool. This step can be prepared a day in advance.

For the strawberries:
Slice the strawberries, stir with the sugar, and set aside.

For the mascarpone cream:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until well combined. Stir in the mascarpone and mix well. Whisk the egg whites until stiff (I used my stand mixer), and carefully fold it into the yolk mixture.

Assembling:
I would layer the tiramisu this way: a layer of ladyfingers that had been dunked in the liquid removed from the stewed rhubarb on the bottom, a layer of stewed rhubarb, a layer of mascarpone cream, a second layer of ladyfingers, a layer of strawberries, a second layer of mascarpone cream. Feel free to garnish the top with extra slices of strawberry. (Note: I served the tiramisu in individual glasses using 2 ladyfingers per glass. However, if you decide to use a larger dish, make sure to split the ladyfingers and mascarpone evenly between their layers.)

After assembling, refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

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