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I can’t say rhubarb is my favourite fruit (vegetable? animal? mineral? wtf IS rhubarb?) – can anyone? It’s stringy. It grows randomly outside the veg plot, not certain whether it wants to be weed or crop. It’s distinctly unappealing with the unwieldy long stems, pink-ish in colour but not lovely spring berry pink – more greenish-pink, like someone about to be violently sick.
Rhubarb crumble is one of those classic British desserts that make you think of Mary Berry, and not in a flattering way. Stewed fruit (eeeuw, STEWED fruit) covered just about by a random concoction of flour and sugar; it’s a cake that has lost its bottom. It’s compote made by a butcher. It’s an ‘I can’t cook and can’t be bothered to learn’ dessert.
Rhubarb fool – oh hang on a second. Now I did think it was hands down the fifth division of desserts. I thought a fool is all right but a raspberry fool – now that’s an 'oh yeah' dessert; also blueberry fool or passion fruit for the in-crowd. Well, what do you know, I’ve changed my mind. More fool me.
You go, rhubarb!
- Serves 3 - 4
- 400g (1lb) rhubarb, trimmed and chopped roughly
- 100g (½ cup) caster sugar plus 1 tsp
- 1 vanilla pod, divided in half
- 300ml (1¼ cup) double cream
- a few drops of rose water
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375F/gas 5. Scrape the seeds from half the vanilla pod and mix into the sugar. Place the rhubarb in an ovenproof dish; add the sugar as well as the scraped two halves of the vanilla pod. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
Tip the rhubarb into a sieve placed over a bowl or a pan to reserve the juice. Discard the vanilla pod. Whizz the rhubarb in a blender to a smooth puree. Simmer the collected juice in a small saucepan until reduced and syrupy, about 10 minutes. Pour it into a small jug or a bowl and cool completely.
Whip the double cream until soft peaks – don’t over whip or it will be too stiff. Stir the rose water into the rhubarb puree and fold the puree into whipped cream.
Chill for at least half an hour, then spoon into serving bowls or shot glasses, drizzle with the syrup and serve. A shortbread or a ginger biscuit will go well with the fool.