With Memorial Day weekend almost upon us, and my love of icebox cakes running as deep as ever, I saw it only fit to share a recipe for vanilla rhubarb icebox cake with you for your holiday-party-making-pleasure. This recipe is from my book, The Vintage Baker, and has not yet made it on to my blog. Consider yourself, therefore, one of the chosen few who has been granted access to the recipe, prior to its wider circulation. I love this cake because a) it incorporates one of spring’s finest gifts: rhubarb; b) it is easy-peasy (calling for store bought vanilla wafer cookies and an easy whipped cream); and c) the rhubarb is cooked down into a compote, that is not only delicious when folded into the whipped cream, but is also fabulous on its own, spooned over vanilla ice cream or spread on buttered toast. Another wonderful thing about this cake is that it is the ultimate make-ahead dessert, as icebox cakes do best if they are left to rest overnight in the fridge before being served.
Here’s what I’m thinking: grab some rhubarb at the farmers’ market on Saturday morning (or pick it from your garden if you are that lucky), prepare the compote that afternoon, assemble the cake in the early evening, and serve it at either Sunday’s BBQ or Monday’s potluck. You will not be disappointed.
(Makes 10 to 14 slices)
- 2 cups [220 g] rhubarb, chopped, fresh or frozen
- 1/2 cup [100 g] granulated sugar
- 4 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups [480 ml] heavy cream
- 1/2 cup [60 g] confectioners’ sugar
- 8 oz [230 g] vanilla wafer cookies
- Red sanding sugar for decorating
Combine the rhubarb and granulated sugar in a small saucepan over medium to medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the fruit breaks down and is jam-like, 15 to 20 minutes. Off the heat, add 1 tsp of the vanilla, and set the mixture aside to cool to room temperature. The stewed rhubarb can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Have ready an 8-by-2-in [20-by-20-by-5-cm] square baking pan. Pyrex is nice, so you can see all of the layers, but not necessary.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the cream on medium to medium-high speed until the cream begins to thicken, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar and the remaining vanilla, and whisk until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the room temperature rhubarb into the cream.
Using a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon, spread a layer of cream on the bottom of the pan. Cover as much of the cream as possible with a layer of vanilla wafers, filling any gaps with broken wafers (breaking them yourself, if necessary). The pieces should touch. The goal is a solid layer of cookies.
Continue layering whipped cream and cookies until you run out or reach the top of the pan. Spread the top of the cake with whipped cream and gently cover it with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the cake for 6 to 8 hours, or preferably overnight.
Remove the cake from the refrigerator prior to serving and peel off the plastic wrap. Sprinkle the top of the cake with red sanding sugar.
Serve directly from the pan. The cake will keep, tightly covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.