Dessert

Green Light

Poor James. My husband is sad about the current direction this blog is taking. Too many salads, he thinks: “Why don’t you make a nice pie?”

Today’s recipe is not a salad but, sadly for James, neither is it a pie. And it is made out of avocado, which he hates. 

I was inspired by While We’re Young, Noah Baumbach’s comedy with Adam Stiler and Naomi Watts as disappointed Gen X-ers befriended by a hip millennial couple played by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried. I really liked the film. It was sad and funny and everyone in it was great.

But I will admit that one detail stood out for me: Seyfried’s character, Darby, runs some kind of artisanal ice cream business and in one scene they try her “avocado and almond milk sorbet”. I think it’s supposed to convey something of the younger couple’s self-consciously cool, of-the-moment lifestyle. But doesn’t it also sound delicious? 

avocado almond sorbet

This turned out pretty well with a lovely texture, halfway between ice cream and sorbet, creamy but refreshing. Although it wasn’t as almondy as I hoped. Perhaps that’s down to the brand of milk I used? Alpro’s unsweetened stuff was a bit disappointing so perhaps nut milk aficionados could point me in the direction of a better one?  

avocado almond sorbet

A few toasted nut on top brought out what almond flavour there was though and pomegranate seeds were another good addition, providing a beautiful contrast visually and a pop of acid sweetness against the cool, creamy green. 

The whole thing is, I grant you, a little bit “wellnessfor which I apologise. Especially after all the recent courgetti. I’m not against Ella and her ilk, but I tend to feel they’re peddling a personal brand rather than anything more meaningful. Generally speaking I make salads etc. because I like them and because I like how I feel when I eat healthily. I’m not against pies or puddings or anything. I cooked this because I thought it would be nice and I make no claims about it's health-giving properties. 


Avocado & Almond Sorbet (serves 2)

Ingredients

  • 1 avocado
  • 150ml almond milk
  • 4tbsp agave nectar
  • squeeze of lime juice

Method

  1. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and whizz until creamy.
  2. Transfer the cream in an ice cream maker and churn until firm.
  3. Serve immediately with chopped toasted nuts, slivered almonds, berries or pomegranate seeds or store in the freezer (remember to remove 20 minutes before serving).

Ifs And Ands

  • Other nut milks could work instead of almond.
  • Add cocoa powder instead of lime for a richer, chocolatey dessert.
  • I used agave nectar here just because I couldn’t be bothered to make a sugar syrup, thought honey would overwhelm the other flavours and happened to have some in the cupboard. Either would be worth playing around with. 


KitchInspiration: Who Do? Yuzu!

Alice writes:

I have a food challenge for you. What to do with the yuzu juice I got in my Christmas stocking, possibly not even in 2014, and have so far used precisely once? Its only outing was as part of the dressing for a crunchy Asian-inspired salad with some smoked oily fish of some sort, if I remember rightly. 


Yuzu is one of those ingredients that seemed to come from nowhere. A few years ago I’d never heard of the Japanese fruit and now it’s all over the place in salad dressings and cocktails and so on. 

Although, having said that, you can't really get them whole in this country, only the bottled juice. And I couldn’t even find that in my local Oriental supermarket so had to make do with this “citrus seasoning” that I found in Sainsburys. I’ve had it in restaurants though and this is pretty close (not to mention cheaper). Just to make sure the whole thing wasn’t a big con, I did a blind taste test against some bottled lemon juice and am pleased to report that you can definitely tell them apart. The yuzu is sweeter and slightly more floral, still tangy but not as outright sour as the lemon. It fits with the most common description of it which is being like a cross between a lemon and a mandarin. 

Although I must sound a warning note and say that my bottle claims it must be consumed within four weeks of opening so I’m not sure how advisable it is to use your stocking filler at all...

Nevertheless, if you do decide to throw caution to the exotic, citrussy winds, maybe the following will be of use...

yuzu salad dressing

Summer Vegetable Salad With Yuzu Soy Dressing

This is probably not dissimilar to the dressing you made once before. But I think the salad dressing is yuzu's natural home in the world of savoury things so I am going to include it anyway, mainly for the benefit of anyone who hasn't tried it. Also, all these vegetables are in season right now and make for a nice British-meets-Asian sort of vibe. It would go well with a tuna steak or a few slices of tofu, fried on a high heat to crisp them up a bit.

Ingredients

  

  • 2tbsp sesame seeds (I used one each of golden and black but it doesn’t really make a difference except aesthetically)
  • 200g baby courgettes
  • 4tbsp sesame oil
  • 3tbsp soy sauce
  • 4tbsp yuzu juice
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 200g green beans
  • 200g tenderstem broccoli
  • 1 small, ripe mango
  • 1 red chilli

Method

  1. Toast the sesame seeds in a large dry frying pan for a couple of minutes then set aside.
  2. Trim the baby courgettes and cut each in half. Crush the garlic and put it in the pan with 1tbsp of sesame oil over a high heat. Add the courgettes in a single layer and leave, undisturbed for a minute. Check to see if they have taken on any colour. If they are going a but golden brown turn them and give them a minute on the other side. Add 1tbsp yuzu juice and let them cook until it evaporates (should be pretty quick). When done put the courgettes into your salad bowl.
  3. Steam the beans and the broccoli for five or six minutes. They should be tender but with bite. Add them to the courgettes when they’re done.
  4. Peel the mango and cut it into smallish slices. Deseed and finely chop the chilli. Slice the spring onions into thin rounds. Add them all to the bowl, along wth the seasme seeds.
  5. Put 3tbsp each of soy sauce, seame oil and yuzu juice into a jar or salad dressing bottle with the sugar and shake. Pour over the salad and toss so everything is combined. Serve.

Ifs And Ands

  • This works warm or cold and can be adapted to almost any green vegetable.
  • The dressing would also be good over steamed Bok Choi or Choi Sum as a side dish.


Delicious but not terribly original. I think things might get more interesting yuzu-wise if one turned to sweet stuff. Apparnetly the zest is very fragrant but, since we only have the juice in the UK, we will have to do without it.

yuzu meringue pie

Yuzu & Thyme Meringue Pie

I’ve adapted Theo Randall’s exemplary lemon tart recipe to become a yuzu meringue pie.

I sometimes find the fillings of lemon meringue pies a bit gummy and not lemony enough. Even Delia’s I’m afraid (the cornflour, I think). And although the Randall tart is the best I've ever come across, I was always a bit saddened by the egg whites that went to waste when I made it. So when I hit on the idea of whipping the otherwise-wasted whites with sugar to turn the tart into a super-lemony pie I was terribly pleased with myself. 

Here, I just replaced the lemon with yuzu and, ooking for something aromatic to replace the unavailable zest, experimented with thyme which worked really well. Also I had some sesame seeds left over from making the salad so they went in the pastry.

Ingredients

  • 175g (6oz) plain flour
  • 50g (1¾oz) icing sugar
  • 120g (4oz) butter
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 130ml yuzu juice
  • bunch of thyme
  • 400g sugar
  • 200g butter

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/gas mark 5.
  2. Combine the flour, icing sugar and butter in a food processor or with finger tips until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Mis in the sesame seeds and then add two egg yolks and work lightly with your hands to form a ball of pastry. Wrap this in clingfilm and leave to chill in the fridge for an hour.
  3. Divide the ball into eight and roll each piece out into a circle to fit inside a 10cm mini flan tin. Or else use a single 22cm one. Put a circle of baking paper inside each and fill with baking beans, rice or coins.
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes (take them out when the pastry is turning golden brown) then remove from the oven and take out the baking beans. Leave the oven on though.
  5. Meanwhile, put the yuzu juice, butter, 200g sugar and thyme in a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water and heat until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. Remove the thyme and discard.
  6. Beat the eggs and egg yolks together and add to the pan. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture acquires a custard-y, lemon curd-y consistency. Give it a whisk if it looks a bit lumpy. When it’s ready, pour the filling into the pastry.
  7. Whisk half of the egg whites until they are white, fluffy and retain the shape of a peak when the whisk is lifted. You could do it by hand but personally I think anyone who does is insane. What are they trying to prove? When the whites are like little fluffy clouds, whisk in the remaining 200g sugar, bit by bit, until the meringue is glossy.
  8. Spoon it on top of the pie filling and put the whole lot in the oven for 15 minutes or until the meringue is going brown on top. Then take it out and leave to cool before serving. Personally I think it's even better after a night in the fridge.

Ifs And Ands

  • Even if you don’t have any yuzu, I would make Theo Randall’s tart. It’s delicious. With or without meringue on top. I bet it would be nice made with lime too.
  • Fresh ginger might work instead of the thyme.
  • I considered adding a tiny bit of wasabi paste to the meringue but lost my nerve. Maybe on a future occasion - a bit of heat would fight the sweetness.
  • Freeze the leftover egg yolks for another time. Whisk them up with the others (with an extra 50g sugar per egg white) and blob onto a baking tray. Cook overnight in a very low oven for crunchy meringues of the kind needed to make Eton Mess.

 

Other Yuzu-Inspired Ideas

I didn't have time to try all of these out but they are worth considering.

  • Try mixing a spoonful or two into some mayonnaise for dipping tempura or panko-fried prawns into.
  • A yuzu jelly would be lovely, as would a sorbet.
  • Cocktails also seem the way to go. Try equal parts yuzu juice and vodka topped up with Champagne or prosecco and a couple of crushed mint leaves. (Add a bit of sugar syrup if you like it sweeter).
  • The reliable, but fancy, Great British Chefs website also has some ideas.
  • Now, after saying the word "yuzu" over and over again just try getting the  music from Labyrinth out of your head. I’ve had it going round my head the whole time I was thinking about this question...

UPDATE (03/09/2015): Since writing this I have been thinking more about yuzu. It sort of plagued me. I could taste it in my sleep and didn't fully feel I had done it justice. I saw a reccomendation for these Yuzu Sake truffles from Prestat and thought that sounded like a good combination, especially with the white chocolate.

The idea of a yuzu-flavoured creme brulee also occurred to me. Perhaps with chunks of mango at the bottom. 
 

FOMO Fro-Yo

Right. This really is the last recipe sparked by our recent jaunt to the Port Eliot Festival. Apologies for banging on about it so much but it was such a creatively lively event and sparked so many ideas.

I had some delicious frozen yoghurt from a stall called Hedgerow which I was keen to recreate. 

elderflower frozen yoghurt

I can’t normally get terribly excited about frozen yoghurt. Not the massively overpriced stuff on the highstreet anyway. I think it’s because I hate the way most of it is branded: a weird mixture of feminine guilt (“Dessert is so naughty! Have this sin-free treat!”) and sex, all tricked out in shades of hot pink and faux-flirty slogans. Ugh.

hedgerow

But Hedgerow weren’t doing any of those things and had an Elderflower & Honey flavoured yoghurt which sounded lovely. I bought a small serving and indeed it was.

I’ve made frozen Greek yoghurt a few times, just by stirring in honey and churning it in the machine. It comes out really creamy and is a great accompaniment to baklava. But this was more tangy and milky so I used Yeo Valley’s “Natural” yoghurt in my replication attempt.

This is super simple but makes a really light and refreshing dessert.

 

Elderflower & Honey Frozen Yoghurt (for two servings)

Ingredients

  • 200g plain natural yoghurt
  • 60ml elderflower cordial
  • 2tbsp honey

Method

  1. Mix all the ingredients together and churn in an ice cream maker.
  2. Best eaten as soon as it’s ready with berries and a little more honey drizzled over the top. If you’re going to keep the yoghurt in the freezer take it out 20 minutes before serving so it has time to soften.

Ifs And Ands

  • Add a little lemon zest and juice. But be careful as the elderflower flavour is easily overwhelmed.
  • Cook berries with a little sugar and put them through a sieve to make a puree. Stir into the yoghurt instead of the cordial.

Nice As Pie

I made some more Mivvi-style lollies last week so was delighted when we were granted a reprieve from the rain on Saturday in which to enjoy them.

Usually when I make ice cream I just throw the egg whites away. The waste bothers me but I’m never sure what to do with them. But this time I’d just invested in a hand whisk so decided to turn them into meringues.

lemon meringue ice cream
lemon meringue ice cream

It then seemed pretty obvious what flavour ice cream to make. I churned the custard and, just before putting into the freezer to firm up, added the crumbled meringues and a few spoonfuls of lemon curd. Voila! Lemon meringue ice cream! Using good quality lemon curd gives it a proper zing and stops it from being too sweet. And adding the meringue pieces right at the end lets them to retain a bit of crunch which is nice texturally. Lovely with some summer berries on the side.


Lemon Meringue Ice Cream

Ingredients

The basic ice cream mixture is, again, based on the one in Julie Fisher’s Ruby Violet book but I used a slightly higher proportion of egg yolks. The custard sat in the fridge overnight before I churned it - I’m not sure if this had anything to do with the fact this was one of the most deliciously creamy ices I’ve ever made. I took my meringue tips from Angela Nilson in the BBC Good Food Magazine.

  • 250ml double cream
  • 125ml whole milk
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1 tbsp vanilla essence
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 3tbsp lemon curd

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 100C/gas mark ¼.
  2. Mix the cream, milk and 30g of the caster sugar in a saucepan. Heat to dissolve the sugar and then bring to near boiling before allowing to cool for five or so minutes.
  3. Separate the eggs. Put the whites in a large bowl and keep them to one side. Beat the yolks in a small bowl with a pinch of salt. 
  4. When the cream mixture has cooled a little take a ladleful and add it to the egg yolks, stirring constantly (adding the eggs to the pan of hot cream might scramble them!).
  5. Put the egg/cream mixture into the pan with the cream and cook over a low heat, stirring all the while, until it begins to thicken into a custard. Add the vanilla essence.
  6. Fill the sink with cold water and ice cubes. Pour the custard into a bowl and put the bowl in the cold water to chill.
  7. Beat the egg whites until pale and foamy. They should stand in peaks when you remove the whisk. Then beat in the caster sugar, followed by the icing sugar.
  8. Cover a baking tray with a piece of oiled greaseproof paper and drop spoonfuls of the meringue onto it. You're going to crumble them up anyway so they needn’t be pretty.
  9. Bake for an hour and a half until crisp on the outside.
  10. Once your ice cream mixture is chilled churn it in an ice cream machine. Add the lemon curd, crumble over the meringues and stir quickly to combine. Put in the freezer for at least an hour to firm up before serving.

Ifs And Ands

  • If you like things really lemony, add an extra squeeze or so of juice to the curd before stirring it in. And maybe the zest to the ice cream too.
  • Use fresh strawberries or raspberries. Or heat them briefly with a little sugar and puree once soft. Use the fruit or the puree instead of the lemon curd for Eton Mess Ice Cream.


Lolly Day! Celebrate!

I spent my early childhood in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, a place not noted for its balmy climate. Nevertheless, according to my parents, I would frequently demand ice cream, even in the depths of  in winter.

Therefore, despite June 2015 not (so far) developing into the scorcher we were promised, I see no reason not to write about lollies.

Modern lollies lack a certain something. For me at least. And not just jokes on the sticks.

The ones I’m nostalgic for are never as nice as I remember them being. I mean, isn’t it weird that you can suck the flavour right out and just leave the ice? And the “grown up” ones aren’t real lollies, they’re fancy choc-ices on sticks. Which is nice enough but can be a bit cloying.

Which is why I got a bit obsessed with the idea of making my own Mivvies AKA Strawberry Spilts. Remember them? A fruity shell around a core of vanilla ice cream. The best of both worlds! Refreshing like a lolly but with enough dairy to feel luxurious. I wanted a version made with real fruit and no artificial stuff, simple enough to appeal to kids but with a hint of sophistication for the adults too.

It took a while to get right, the kitchen sticky with fruit puree. But the flavours were by no means the hardest part. Constructing the things was the real puzzle. First things first though. You see a lot of food blogs doing lovely, old-fashioned-looking lollies with wooden sticks. But unless you want to make industrial quantities it’s difficult to get the moulds. 

In the end I settled for these round ones as they were individually removable from the stand and allowed you to use your own sticks. They weren't so exorbitantly expensive when I bought them and they're easy to use. Admittedly though the shape of the moulds themselves and the resultant lollies is a bit… um...

rocket lolly mould
norpro lolly mould

I’m thinking of getting these ones too which are a more traditional shape. 

The fruity exteriors of my splits were based on the Strawberry & Pepper recipe in the book by gourmet lolly-makers The Ice KitchenI won a copy last summer in a competition to come up with a new flavour and can definitely recommend it for inspiration, should you be bitten by the lolly-making bug. There are so many I want to try but I think Lychee & Lemongrass or Egyptian Hibiscus & Peach are top of the list.

Cesar and Claudia Roden use fresh strawberries blended with sugar syrup but I found I preferred to cook the fruit with the sugar as it gave a more intense result. I liked the idea of adding pepper though and their advice to add a little lemon juice to make the fruit flavour “pop” is spot on.

My go-to ice cream recipe is from lovely Tufnell Park parlour Ruby Violet  in their book Ice Cream Deams. In this case I wanted a nostalgic, Mini Milk-ish taste so slightly upped the proportion of milk to cream.

Then came the problem of getting the ice cream inside the lolly shell. At first I tried freezing the fruit mixture around a carrot wrapped in oiled clingfilm. But not only did this make me feel weirdly perverted, it didn’t leave a reliably unbroken shell when removed. Filling what shell there was with ice cream was laborious until I remembered an old Tala icing bag hiding at the back of the cupboard. Used without a nozzle, it did the job admirably. 

So I decided to have another go with mango (for a Solero kind of vibe) and try a different technique. I made two lots. For the first I half-froze the fruit puree before making a hole with a wooden spoon handle once it was firm enough to keep its shape. And another where I used a carrot (yes, they were still involved) as the basis of a foil mould for the ice cream "cores". I froze them first then pushed them into a proper mould, half-filled with puree. Both worked fine, but the second method probably gave slightly better results.

 First, unsuccessful, carrot-based attempt...

First, unsuccessful, carrot-based attempt...

 But the vegetable eventually proves useful

But the vegetable eventually proves useful

 Foil "carrot" mould filled with ice cream

Foil "carrot" mould filled with ice cream

 Frozen cores and fruit shells.

Frozen cores and fruit shells.

 Cores unwrapped

Cores unwrapped

(Excuse the photos. Everything was a bit of a mess and I didn't want to get the camera sticky. Also, if you were using the more traditionally shaped moulds, I think half a pack of cards would do you quite well as the basis for the foil shapes.)

So it was all a bit of a faff. But super worth it as these came out delicious. My husband James called them “a taste sensation” and he is a Yorkshireman not given to hyperbole.

Of course, you could just forgo all the faffing about with carrots and foil and icing bags and just mix the fruit and ice cream together in the moulds for a marbled sort of effect which would be just as tasty.

I will definitely be making these again. And when I do I’m going to write my own jokes on the sticks. All suggestions welcome!

 


Homemade Mivvies/Soleros
This is enough for six lollies of one flavour. If you want to make both, double the ice cream mix.

Ingredients

  • 400g strawberries
  • 40g sugar
  • 10ml vodka (this slightly softens the texture, you can leave it out for kids)
  • 10ml lemon juice 
  • 4 grinds of black pepper

OR

  • 2 mangoes
  • 2tbsp honey
  • juice of half a lime
  • 3 pieces of stem ginger in syrup
  • 4 cardamom pods

PLUS

  • 300ml double cream
  • 150ml whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • pinch of salt

 

Method

  1. For the strawberries: wash and chop the fruit. Cook with the sugar over a medium heat until the fruit is beginning to break down and go jammy. Then put in a blender with the vodka (if using), lemon juice and pepper. Blend to a smooth puree. For the mangoes do the same but don’t cook the fruit. It can be pureed with the other ingredients from raw. Chill.
  2. Heat the cream, milk and sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan over a low heat until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Beat the egg yolks and salt in a bowl. Add a ladleful of the cream mixture and beat vigorously, then transfer the egg mixture into the pan, still on  a low heat, and stir until the custard thickens. This could take a while, up to 15 minutes. When it’s done the spoon will leave tracks.
  4. Chill the custard until it’s at least room temperature, preferably colder (put the pan in a sinkful of ice water). Then churn in an ice cream machine until it’s the texture of a McDonalds milkshake (if you don’t have an ice cream machine you can just follow the next step using it as a chilled custard but it will freeze harder).
  5. Take a carrot (or other item slightly smaller than your mould but similarly shaped) and a piece of tinfoil about six inches square. Wrap the foil around the carrot and make sure there are no gaps or holes. Remove the carrot and keep it for making soup or something.
  6. Use an icing bag (or a plastic bag with one corner cut off) to pipe the slushy ice cream into the tinfoil mould. You might need to tamp it down once or twice. When it’s full, put in a lolly stick and freeze for 2-3 hours until solid.
  7. Unwrap the ice cream cores. Pour the chilled fruit puree into the moulds until just under halfway filled.
  8. Take the frozen ice cream cores and place them in the fruit-filled moulds until the fruit is level with the top of the core.
  9. Freeze again for at least three hours.
  10. Bingo! You have Mivvies! Run the moulds under a warm tap for a few seconds to dislodge the lolly then serve.

Ifs and Ands

  • Leave both fruit purees plain with just a little citrus juice for a clean summery taste.
  • Add finely chopped mint or basil to the strawberry instead of (or as well as) pepper.
  • Substitute one of the mangoes with passion fruit, the pulp rubbed through a sieve to remove the seeds. Or use orange juice for a firmer-set, more lolly-like, shell.
  • Instead of making the ice cream yourself use a readymade supermarket custard churned in your machine. Frozen yoghurt would work well too: add honey to Greek yoghurt and churn. Not quite as traditional but equally delicious.

 

KitchInspiration: Getting Fruity With The In-Laws

We all get stuck in a rut. Sometimes it’s difficult to know what you want to eat, let alone what to cook. So welcome to the first in a semi-regular feature for providing culinary encouragement to the uninspired.

Carla writes:

Dear Clare
The in-laws are coming on Sunday and I'm keen to make a dessert that requires a little effort and looks good. What I'm really fancying is a cold, fruity, summery dish. But I'm pregnant so can't have anything with raw eggs.
Recipe please!
Carla

The first thing that came to mind was some sort of fruit-rippled ice cream. However, unless you make a big fuss over serving it, your in-laws might not even realise you made it yourself, rendering all your hard work pointless. 

So here are two other ideas. One is super easy but looks and tastes a little fancy and the other will require a bit more forethought. 

I hope one or other proves useful. Good luck!

 1) Yoghurt, curd and berries

yoghurt curd berries

This is inspired by a “pre-dessert” I had at the Trafalgar Hotel years and years ago when I was working on the Travel Desk at the Express. It arrived in a shot glass and was more memorable than anything else I ate that evening. A scaled up version has made regular appearances at my dinner parties ever since.

Ingredients

  • Greek Yoghurt
  • Lemon Curd
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries

Method

Use a glass bowl or tumbler per person. Fill it halfway with Greek yoghurt, add a generous layer of good quality lemon curd and top with fresh blueberries and raspberries. Decorate with a mint leaf if feeling fancy.

And that’s it! Incredibly simple, but tastes genuinely luxurious. Keep the layers neat and it looks pretty smart. The only things to bear in mind are to use full-fat yoghurt and make sure your lemon curd is decent and not the luminous yellow stuff.

 

2) Rhubarb Trifle

Few desserts feel more celebratory than a trifle. You could make one with any seasonal or summery fruit for an impressive and vaguely nostalgic end to a meal.

I like the idea of using poached peaches in a raspberry jelly for a take on Peach Melba. Or mango would mix an exotic holiday vibe into the billowy, British creaminess. Just don't use pineapple. It has enzymes that stops the jelly setting and is thus a sure-fire road to dessert disappointment.

But on this particular occasion, I am suggesting rhubarb. I love it in a crumble but it deserves to shine in other circumstances too. The tartness makes a lovely contrast with the sweet custard and whipped cream. I would usually base the fruity jelly around booze but we’ll use apple juice here because you're up the duff. The custard should be fine though as the eggs are cooked.

rhubarb trifle

You'll need to start the day before you want to serve it or at least allow a few hours for the jelly to set.

Ingredients

  • 600g rhubarb
  • 100g caster sugar (plus extra to taste)
  • enough cake/trifle sponges to line your dish
  • 550 ml apple juice
  • gelatine
  • 500ml double cream
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 75g sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 300ml whipping cream
  • flaked almonds
  • crystallised rose petals

 Method

  1. Cut the rhubarb into inch-long pieces. Place them on a baking tray and sprinkle over the caster sugar. Roast under foil at 200C/gas mark 6 for 15 mins. Remove the foil, spoon over the juices and cook for another 5 mins.
  2. Meanwhile arrange the sponge to cover the bottom of the bowl you want to serve the trifle in.
  3. Heat the apple juice in a pan. Follow the instructions on your packet of gelatine to make it up and then add it to the juice.
  4. Lay the roasted rhubarb in an even layer over the sponge.
  5. If it's given off any syrup, mix it in with the apple juice. Taste and add more sugar if necessary. You want it tart but not mouth puckering.
  6. Pour the liquid over the cake and fruit and leave to set in the fridge for a few hours or, preferably, overnight.
  7. Heat the milk and cream with the sugar until it dissolves, then allow to cool slightly.
  8. Beat the egg yolks in a separate bowl and add a few spoonfuls of the cream mixture, stirring vigorously. When combined pour back into the pan (this stops the eggs going scrambled in the heat) and stir over a low heat until the custard thickens . It should coat the back of a wooden spoon.
  9. Leave to cool then pour over the jelly and return to the fridge. (Alternatively skip this step and use a pot of supermarket custard!)
  10. Before serving, whip the cream and smooth over the custard. Top with the flaked almonds and crystallised rose petals.

 Ifs And Ands

  • Those who aren't pregnant can use sweetened white wine or champagne to make the jelly or add marsala to the apple juice.
  • Top with a crumble mixture instead of almonds for a trifle/crumble fusion ("Trumble"?). Rub 100g plain flour into 75g butter until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add 25g ground almonds and 100g light brown sugar. (Or blitz the lot in a food processor.) Spread evenly on a parchment-covered baking sheet and bake evenly for 20mins at 160C/gas mark 3. Sprinkle on top of the trifle when cool.
  • Substitute half the rhubarb for strawberries for a truly winning combination.
  • Use amaretto biscuits along with or instead of the sponge for an almondy hit that compliments the rhubarb.
  • Nice additions, flavourwise, would be ginger (infuse the juice or wine with a few slices before adding the gelatine) or rosewater (add 1tbsp to the juice or wine).

If you have any other suggestions of fruity puds with which Carla can impress her in-laws please leave them in the comments below.

Want to ask a question yourself? Anything goes: Got mushroom-hating vegetarian guests coming to dinner and don’t know what to serve them? Need healthy, carb-free lunch-box ideas? Veg box full of kohlrabi and put off by its alien looks? Head over the the Contact page and drop me a line.