Tangy, sweet and creamy – my Lemon Rhubarb Creams are a perfect way to brighten up the winter!
I love seasonal eating, but in the depths of winter it can start to feel a little repetitive. The feasting and festivities of December are a distant memory, and it can seem like a long wait for the lighter, fresher flavours of Spring. But just in time, along comes the bright pink of forced rhubarb to save the day!
When Expedia asked me to come up with a recipe to make the most of the new season’s rhubarb, it set me on a nostalgic trip down memory lane. For me, rhubarb always reminds me of my childhood. Whether it’s a comforting bowl of crumble with steaming hot custard, a big slice of rhubarb loaf cake, or even the mouth-puckering sourness of rhubarb dipped into sugar and eaten raw.
But you don’t need a recipe for that last suggestion, and I usually make the other two recipes with older stalks of rhubarb. I wanted to make something that would really show off the neon-pink colour that is the hallmark of forced rhubarb. Did you know that it’s still grown by the traditional methods in the ‘Rhubarb triangle’ between Wakefield, Morley and Rothwell in Yorkshire? The plants are grown under forcing pots in candlelit sheds, which is what gives the stalks their luscious pink colour. And if you’re really quiet, you can even hear the stalks grow!
Wakefield holds an annual Festival of Food, Drink and Rhubarb to celebrate the area’s tradition of growing rhubarb. This year’s festival runs from 17-19th February 2017, and includes cookery demonstrations, street entertainment and tasting sessions. You can find details of this and a host of other food events from around the UK on the Expedia Food Map.
So I’ve come up with this gorgeous recipe, which combines the sweet tanginess of the rhubarb with a creamy-sweet lemon posset. It would the ideal pudding for a special Valentine’s Day dinner, or to round off a Mother’s Day dinner. And serving the creams in glasses shows off that stunning colour!
You do need to prepare these ahead of time, as the cream needs at least 4 hours to set. I would recommend making it no more than about 12 hours in advance. Do remember to take them out of the fridge around 20 minutes before serving to let the cream soften a little.
Lemon Rhubarb Creams (serves 4)
For the Lemon Layer:
125g golden caster sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
400ml double cream
Langues de chat biscuits or shortbread biscuits
First make the rhubarb layer.
Wash and trim the stalks of rhubarb, and cut into 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces.
Put the pieces of rhubarb in a medium saucepan, together with the orange juice and sugar. Bring to the boil over a medium-high heat and cook on high for 2 minutes. Then put a lid on the saucepan, reduce the heat to low-medium and simmer for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, the rhubarb should be tender but still holding its shape and colour. You’ll also have a lot of bright pink rhubarb syrup. Transfer the rhubarb and syrup to a wide dish to cool down quickly.
Next make the lemon posset.
Put the sugar in a small saucepan and add the lemon juice. Heat over a medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved – you don’t need to boil this, just heat it through.
Then put the cream in a second saucepan over a medium-high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and let it bubble away for 3 minutes so that it thickens slightly.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the sugar and lemon juice syrup, stirring with a whisk as you pour in the syrup. It will start to thicken immediately, and may look a little lumpy but keep whisking and it will get smoother again.
Pour the lemon posset through a sieve into a large jug, and leave it to cool for 5 minutes.
While the posset is cooling, you can start to assemble the puddings.
I used matching wine glasses, but you can use an assortment of different glasses or dishes if you prefer. Definitely use glass though, so you can see the layers.
Put a few pieces of rhubarb in each glass (about 5-6 depending on size) and add 1-2 teaspoons of the syrup as well. Try not to get any of it down the sides of the glasses!
When the lemon posset has cooled, pour it quickly and smoothly into each glass. You’ll get a little of the syrup showing through but the layers should mainly stay separate.
Allow to cool for a few minutes more and then transfer to the fridge to chill. They will need at least 4 hours, but you can get ahead by making these up to 12 hours in advance.
Remove from the fridge around 20 minutes before serving, to let the cream soften a little. Serve them with long spoons and some crisp biscuits such as langues de chat or shortbreads.