I adore rhubarb – its sprightly pinkness brings cheer to the sometimes dreary late winter and early spring table. Â 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. Â 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. Â Properly good. Â 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. Â The meringues can be made days if not weeks ahead as long as they are stored in an airtight container. Â 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. Â You could omit the ginger if it is not your thing and add some vanilla to the cream instead. Â 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. Â 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. Â Whisk the egg whites until stiff (like shaving foam) then add the sugar spoonful by spoonful until satiny. Â Divide into four blobs on the parchment and fashion into rough nests. Â Put in the oven, turn down to 120 and leave for 2 hours. Â 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. Â 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. Â When you are ready to serve whip the cream with the ginger syrup until just holding its shape then fold through the chopped ginger. Â Put a meringue of a plate, pile on the rhubarb followed by the cream. Â If you are keen on ginger you can trickle a little more ginger syrup over or grate some orange zest over for prettiness. Â Serves 4.