I adore rhubarb – its sprightly pinkness brings cheer to the sometimes dreary late winter and early spring table. When there isn’t much in the way of home grown fruit around, robust rhubarb persists in growing regardless of the cold, its brave stalks standing proud whatever the weather. Technically of course rhubarb is a vegetable and can be used in savoury applications but this recipe is unashamedly a pud, sweet and lip smacking.
Meringues with their crisp carapace and yielding chewy middles topped with poached rhubarb scented with a hint of orange and finished off with billowing clouds of whipped cream studded with preserved ginger. Properly good. I make this pudding a lot when rhubarb is around – it is a dream of a make ahead and as such I couldn’t recommend it more highly for entertaining. The meringues can be made days if not weeks ahead as long as they are stored in an airtight container. The rhubarb can be cooked a couple of days in advance and kept in the fridge and the cream whipped with the ginger a couple of hours before you need it. You could omit the ginger if it is not your thing and add some vanilla to the cream instead. Finally, baked plums are also delicious when rhubarb is not around and go very well with the ginger.
Meringues with rhubarb and ginger cream
Ideally I prefer to roast rhubarb but in this case your oven is busy with the meringues so I’ve given a stovetop method. If you have done the meringues ahead of time or have two ovens heat the other to 190 and put the rhubarb in a shallow dish with the sugar, orange zest and juice and bake for 15 minutes (see photograph below).
2 egg whites
100g caster sugar
Drop of oil
400g rhubarb, chopped into short pieces
40g caster sugar
1 orange, zest and juice (remember to zest before you juice!)
300ml double cream
1 globe and 1 tablespoon syrup preserved ginger, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 140 and very lightly brush a parchment lined baking sheet with oil. Whisk the egg whites until stiff (like shaving foam) then add the sugar spoonful by spoonful until satiny. Divide into four blobs on the parchment and fashion into rough nests. Put in the oven, turn down to 120 and leave for 2 hours. They should be spot on but if they are still a tiny bit soft leave in the turned off oven until its cool and they are dry. Meanwhile cook the rhubarb very gently in a pan with the sugar, orange zest and juice until the sugar is dissolved and the rhubarb soft but hasn’t fallen apart. When you are ready to serve whip the cream with the ginger syrup until just holding its shape then fold through the chopped ginger. Put a meringue of a plate, pile on the rhubarb followed by the cream. If you are keen on ginger you can trickle a little more ginger syrup over or grate some orange zest over for prettiness. Serves 4.