A Measure of Rhubarb Redemption: Rhubarb-Mascarpone Mousse Cake

My husband Tom organized a dinner and Jura wine tasting at our house last weekend, and I saw it as an opportunity to gain some measure of rhubarb redemption. Our friends Tim and Meghan were going to be among the guests, and I wanted to make a dessert that was better than the soggy rhubarb tart I recently made for them.

I found what looked like the perfect recipe on epicurious.com for a Rhubarb-Mascarpone Mousse Cake; it's a "fancy" dessert assembled in a cake ring that consists of a yellow cake filled with a layer of fruit preserves, covered in rhubarb-mascarpone mousse, topped with a thin layer of rhubarb gelatin.

You make the cake from butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, flour, baking powder, salt, and milk. The cake was quite short, so after I leveled it, it was just barely tall enough for me to split into two layers. I filled the cake with strawberry preserves and placed it in the middle of 10-inch cake ring, on top of a cardboard cake circle.

To make the mousse, I cooked rhubarb with sugar and water and simmered it until the it fell apart and the mixture reduced. I strained the rhubarb (saving one cup of bright red rhubarb syrup) and added in some gelatin dissolved in water. After the rhubarb was cool, I folded it into a mixture of mascarpone, heavy cream, vanilla, and sugar that had been beaten to stiff peaks. I poured the mousse over the cake in the cake ring, filling in the space between the edge of the cake and the ring. After the mousse was chilled and firm, I poured over the red glaze made from the reserved rhubarb syrup and gelatin.

This cake was beautiful. I was surprised at how smooth and subtle the flavors were. The tartness of the rhubarb was really tempered in the mascarpone mousse, and aside from the burst of sweetness from the strawberry preserves, the cake was not very sweet. That said, the flavor profile overall is very fruity. One dinner guest took a bite and immediately exclaimed, "It tastes like the inside of a jelly doughnut!" The cake has a tender texture and a clean flavor that is a very good base for carrying the mousse and preserves. The gelatin layer -- while quite pretty -- is so thin that it doesn't really add anything in terms of flavor or texture.

The cake is just lovely. The flavors are elegant and understated, and it certainly is a looker. Redemption tastes sweet!

Recipe: "Rhubarb-Mascarpone Mousse Cake" from epicurious.com.

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Anonymous said…
Too funny! I just made this, and then I was doing research on gelatin and came across your post! Your cake is gorgeous. I added strawberries to mine, and it came out pretty well, except that the syrup on top didn't totally set. But still, what a cool and elegant dessert! :)