Celery and Rhubarb Vacherin

This pastel-hued dessert, from Kristen Murray of Portland, Oregon's Måurice, consists of a simple sponge cake layered with stewed rhubarb, celery semifreddo and sorbet, and crisp meringues, all surrounded by sugary rhubarb soup.

Celery and Rhubarb Vacherin
Celery and Rhubarb Vacherin

The two stalky vegetables are a surprising but elegant pairing atop crispy-sweet meringue



2 bunches young celery with leaves
1½ cups sugar
Pinch kosher salt

4 egg whites, room temperature
⅓ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 drop Aftelier celery oil, optional
¼ cup heavy cream, whipped into stiff peaks

3 tbsp. gin, preferably Hendrick's
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
4 inner stalks celery, juiced (about ¼ cup)
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup crème fraîche
¼ cup mascarpone

9 tbsp. unsalted soft butter, plus more for greasing
1¾ cups almond flour
1 cup confectioners' sugar
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
1 tsp. granulated sugar
4 eggs, separated

4 lb. rhubarb, peeled if tough, sliced ¼" thick
4 cups granulated sugar
½ tsp. kosher salt


1. Make the celery sorbet: Transfer 12 nice leaves of celery to a bowl of ice water; chill until ready to serve. Juice celery using a juicer or purée celery in a blender until smooth and strain through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a measuring cup. You should have 4 cups of juice. Boil sugar and 1 cup water in a 1-qt. saucepan until sugar dissolves, 2–3 minutes; let cool and stir in celery juice and salt. Process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions; freeze until ready to serve.

2. Make the meringues: Heat oven to 200°. Using an electric hand mixer, beat egg whites in a bowl into medium peaks, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle in granulated sugar and beat until stiff peaks form, 3–4 minutes. While beating, slowly sprinkle in confectioners' sugar and, if using, celery oil until combined; transfer meringue to a piping bag fitted with a plain ½" tip. Pipe silver dollar—sized teardrop shapes onto parchment paper—lined baking sheets; bake, rotating once halfway through, until meringues are dry, about 2 hours, and let cool completely.

3. Make the celery semifreddo: Whisk gin, sugar, yolks, and celery juice in a heatproof bowl; set bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Using a heatproof rubber spatula, stir mixture until an instant-read thermometer registers 140° to make a sabayon, about 5 minutes. Remove bowl and place a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of sabayon; let cool. Once cool, whip heavy cream in another bowl until stiff peaks form. Fold crème fraîche, mascarpone, and then whipped cream into sabayon. Spread sabayon evenly onto a 9" x 13" baking dish; freeze until set, about 1 hour.

4. Make the vanilla sponge cake: Increase oven to 350°. Grease a 9" x 13" baking dish with butter and line with parchment paper. Whisk almond flour, confectioners' sugar, salt, and vanilla seeds in a bowl until combined; set aside. In a separate bowl and using an electric hand mixer, beat butter and granulated sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add yolks, one at a time, and mix well after each addition. With the motor running, slowly add dry ingredients into wet until batter forms. In a separate bowl and using clean beaters, beat whites into medium peaks; fold into batter and spread evenly into prepared baking dish. Bake until golden brown, 18–20 minutes. Let cake cool and invert onto a cutting board; peel and discard parchment paper. Using a 2½" round cutter, cut out 12 circles.

5. Make the stewed rhubarb and soup: Toss vanilla bean left over from sponge cake, the rhubarb, sugar, and salt in a heatproof bowl and cover with plastic wrap; set over a saucepan of simmering water until rhubarb juices are released, about 45 minutes. Set bowl over an ice bath until cooled. Strain, reserving rhubarb and soup; chill.

6. Assemble the vacherin: Place cake circles in shallow serving bowls. Spoon the reserved rhubarb over cakes. Using a 2½" round cutter, cut semifreddo into 12 pucks and place over rhubarb. Using whipped cream, glue 3–5 meringues around the sides of each vacherin. Top each with a scoop of celery sorbet; pour rhubarb soup around vacherin and garnish with reserved celery leaves. Serve immediately.

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