Rhubarb and Custard

Recipe from Kew on a Plate with Raymond Blanc.

This dessert is a celebration of a quintessentially British fruit. What excites the tastebuds as much as different flavours is contrasting textures, so in this dessert we have tart rhubarb jelly studded with tender fruit; sweet, smooth, velvety, custard; and a garnish of crisp dried rhubarb.

Rhubtriff MAIN IMAGE

Ingredients Required

For the dried rhubarb crisp
1 Rhubarb stick
100ml Water
20g Caster sugar
10ml Grenadine syrup
For macerating and cooking the rhubarb (yields 360g rhubarb and 200ml juice)
450g Rhubarb, cut into 1cm pieces
45g Caster sugar
For the jelly
2 Thin slices root ginger
1 1/2 Gelatine leaves, softened in cold water and drained
For the custard (makes 475ml)
150ml Whipping cream
150ml Milk
100g Caster sugar
2 tsp Vanilla purée or good-quality vanilla extract
6 Egg yolks
1 Gelatine leaf, softened in cold water and drained
For the honeycomb
40ml Water
35g Clear honey
70g Liquid glucose
200g Caster sugar
20g Bicarbonate of soda
To serve (optional)
Young angelica shoots, finely sliced

Cooking Method

Place 4 glasses or glass serving dishes in the fridge to chill thoroughly.

Preheat the oven to 100ºC/Gas Mark ¼.

For the dried rhubarb crisp

With a sharp vegetable peeler, carefully shave the rhubarb lengthways until you have at least six nice pieces and place these in a small bowl. Chop the remaining rhubarb into 1cm pieces and reserve this for when you make the cooked rhubarb compote. In a small saucepan on a high heat, bring the water, sugar and grenadine syrup to a gentle simmer, add the shaved rhubarb slices then turn off the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Drain the slices of rhubarb, reserving the syrup for macerating the rhubarb, and place on a baking tray lined with a silicone mat. Place in the oven for 25 minutes to dry out then store in an airtight container until needed. Increase the oven temperature to 140ºC/Gas Mark 1.

To macerate the rhubarb

In a large bowl mix the rhubarb (including the reserved chopped rhubarb) and sugar with 100ml of the reserved rhubarb syrup and leave to macerate for 30 minutes. Transfer to a shallow oven tray and cover tightly with cling film to create a seal and ensure that none of the juice will evaporate. Place in the oven for 25 minutes. Once cooked, transfer to the fridge to cool down in its own syrupy juice before straining this off and reserving it. Finely chop half of the cooked rhubarb (this will be about 180g), leaving the rest as it is and set aside in two separate mounds.

Measure 200ml of the reserved syrupy juice to make the jelly.

For the jelly

In a small saucepan on a low heat, infuse the ginger in the 200ml of reserved cooking juice for 5 minutes along with the softened gelatine and stir to dissolve the gelatine. Strain, reserving 80ml for building the trifle and pour the remainder into a small bowl. Start to build your trifle before you make the custard. Place 40g of the reserved finely chopped cooked rhubarb in the bottom of each chilled glass. Top with 50g of the larger reserved cooked rhubarb pieces. Pour 20ml of the reserved jelly liquid into each glass and place in the bottom of your fridge for 15 minutes, until the jelly has just set.

Make the custard

In a medium saucepan on a medium heat, bring the cream, milk, sugar and vanilla purée to a boil. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks.

Once the cream mixture comes to the boil, pour over the beaten egg yolks and whisk until evenly distributed. Pour this mixture back into the pan on a medium heat and bring it to 75ºC, making sure you stir all the time. Take off the heat and place the pan inside a bowl of iced water. Using a hand-held blender, blitz in the softened gelatine and continue to blend until the custard is cool. By whisking as it cools you will add a third more volume thanks to the lightness of the air that is being incorporated. It is important that the custard sets in the glass you are going to serve it in otherwise the more you stir the set custard the more you will lose all the air bubbles and ultimately the lightness of the dessert. So, take each of the desserts from the fridge, top each one with custard and return to the fridge to set for 3 hours minimum and overnight if you have the time.

Meanwhile, prepare the honeycomb

Line a 20 x 25 x 3cm tray with a silicone mat. Put the water, then the honey, glucose and sugar into a medium saucepan and leave for a minute while the sugar dissolves. Place the pan on a high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce to a medium heat and cook for 5 minutes, until you have a light golden caramel. Take off the heat and stir in the bicarbonate of soda. There will be a huge amount of frothing and bubbling and it will increase in volume by about five times. This is caused by the bicarbonate of soda reacting with the heat of the sugar, which produces the bubbles that will eventually create a crunchy honeycomb. Beware – it is a very pretty spectacle but children shouldn’t be allowed too close. Once the frothing has stopped, stir well to ensure that the bicarbonate of soda is well mixed, otherwise you may end up with salty bits in your honeycomb, then carefully pour it into the lined tray. Allow to cool before turning out and breaking into pieces. Store in an airtight container until needed.

To serve

Top your dessert with some broken honeycomb and one of the rhubarb crisps and, if you are able to grow it, the angelica, which will add a little more magic to this dish.


Kew Book 120THUMB

Recipe from Kew on a Plate with Raymond Blanc published by Headline Ltd.

Recipe © Raymond Blanc 2015.

Photograph © Jean Cazals 2015.