Make ahead dessert: April Bloomfield's rhubarb fool
A couple of Sundays ago, I was invited to a glorious run-through of the contemporary music pianist Gloria Cheng would be playing at a concert on the East Coast the next week. It began at 6 p.m. at the new Steinway Piano Gallery in Pasadena and I’d invited friends to dinner after the concert. Since I had no idea when we’d be finished, I had to make everything ahead — fried chicken, coleslaw, succotash — and for dessert, rhubarb fool.
I’d bought some rhubarb at the farmers market intending to make a strawberry-rhubarb pie. But in the end, felt like trying something new, namely this recipe from April Bloomfield (Spotted Pig, the Breslin Bar & Dining Room and the John Dory Oyster Bar in New York). The Brits really know how to do these kinds of desserts, and this recipe from her new cookbook is a keeper — easy, meant to be prepared ahead and delicious.
You can make the rhubarb the day before and then layer it in the glasses with the cardamom cream and pistachios hours before you’ll be eating to give it all a good chill. The cardamom is brilliant with the rhubarb (which is also dosed with a little rose water), giving the sweet a Middle Eastern harem vibe.
One note: I divided the recipe into six servings and still had half the cream left over. No matter, I served it the next day with ripe fresh figs.
You might want to halve the amount of rose water, too, depending on your taste.
Rhubarb Fool with Cardamom Cream and Pistachios (adapted from “A Girl and Her Pig: Recipes and Stories” by April Bloomfield, Ecco Press, 2012, 333 pgs, $29.99). Follow the jump for the recipe.
Here’s what she says: “The rhubarb’s earthy flavor and sharp tartness balance the floral cardamom whipped cream. I layer the fool in small clear jars, so you can see the pink and white, pink and white.”
For the cardamom cream:
6 green cardamom pods
3 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 cup crème fraiche
1 cup heavy cream
For the Rhubarb
1-1/4 pounds rhubarb, topped and tailed, then sliced crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2-1/2 teaspoons rose water
To serve the fool:
1/2 cup shelled salted roasted pistachios
Make the cardamom cream: Use the flat of your knife to smash the cardamom pods one by one. Discard the greenish husks. Pound the cardamom seeds to a powder in a mortar, then add the sugar and pound briefly.
Put the creme fraiche and heavy cream in a large mixing bowl and stir in the sugar mixture. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate it while you cook the rhubarb.
Make the rhubarb: Toss together the rhubarb and sugar in a bowl. Put the mixture in a medium pot and add the white wine. Use a knife to scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the pot; discard the pod. Set the pot over medium-low heat, bring to a very gentle simmer, and cook, tenderly stirring occasionally, until the liquid is a little creamy and rhubarb is very tender but the pieces are still more or less intact, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once the rhubarb is completely cool, stir in the rose water.
Make the fool: Use a whisk or handheld electric mixer to whip the cream mixture until it’s fluffy and full, with semi-stiff peaks. Grab four approximately 8-ounce serving containers or one large bowl for a family-style presentation. Spoon some of rhubarb into the bottom of each glass, top with a layer of cream, and sprinkle on some pistachios. Keep layering this way until you’ve used everything up, making sure you finish with a layer of rhubarb.
Cover and pop into the fridge until well chilled, at least 1 hour.
-- S. Irene Virbila
Photos: rhubarb fool. Credit: S. Irene Virbila/Los Angeles Times.