Spring, Rhubarb and the Triangle.
Rhubarb has always been the marmite of fruit, in my opinion. I know a lot of people who aren't fans. Usually because they're not keen on the texture and the tendency towards stringiness, or perhaps the tart flavour that can only be masked by a generous helping of sugar.
For a while I was one of those people, but for different reasons. Growing up near the Rhubarb Triangle, a 9 square mile area between Wakefield, Morley and Rothwell where conditions are perfect for growing rhubarb, it has always been in abundance in my life. When my father started growing rhubarb in our garden, it never seemed to stop. The success of this particular fruit meaning it was on the table with an increasingly regularity that it soon became too much. How many times can one family eat rhubarb crumble? There is only so much rhubarb one can take.
For me now, rhubarb holds an element of nostalgia. It marks the start of Spring, the first fruit we can eat straight from the garden, and this year especially I have been excitedly awaiting the first harvest. Our own rhubarb is not quite ready but the forced rhubarb found in the Triangle itself most certainly is.
One of my favourite desserts where rhubarb is definitely the star of the show has just 4 ingredients: rhubarb, sugar, extra thick double cream and ginger snap biscuits. Firstly, cut the rhubarb into 2cm pieces and cook together with sugar until it softens. The amount of sugar depends on your personal preference, I like mine quite sweet for this dish. Then divide between serving dishes, add a very generous dollop of the cream and crumble over your ginger snaps. Quick and very easy!
I have also been looking forward to doing an adaptation of the chocolate torte that Salt the Radish served at our Valentine's event. I tested the following recipe over the weekend:
- 200g Dark Chocolate
- 400 ml Double Cream
- 200g Forced Rhubarb
- Tbsp Caster Sugar
- 10 Digestive Biscuits
- 50g Unsalted Butter (melted)
Line a 20cm spring form tin with baking parchment or grease proof paper. Then crush the digestive biscuits and mix with the melted butter. Line the bottom of the tin with the buttery biscuit crumb and refrigerate.
Next, cut the rhubarb into small 1cm pieces and put in a roasting tray. Sprinkle over the sugar and roast for around 20 minutes at Gas Mark 6 / 200 degrees C / 180 degrees C (fan). You want the rhubarb to be very soft. Leave to cool.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over hot water. Once melted add the double cream. I do this bit by bit leaving the bowl over the hot water. When the cream and chocolate have mixed to form a smooth liquid, set to one side.
Take the tin out of the fridge and arrange the rhubarb on the biscuit base, making sure to leave a 1cm gap around the outside. Then pour the chocolate mixture over the rhubarb. Cover with foil and return to the fridge and leave over night.
The result is a rich, indulgent dessert made lighter by the addition of the fruit.
So how ironic then that I sit here full of the joys of Spring (rhubarb) yet I'm looking out of the window at a fairly hefty dusting of snow. That's March in Britain for you.