Valentine Warner's Rhubarb and Stem Ginger Fool
Early rhubarb is such a wondrous thing. Startling in its tartness and colour, flirting from the market barrows, it shocks me from my slow winter stasis and has me sniffing around for spring. If you can’t be bothered to make even this simplest of puddings you’ll find satisfaction by just pouring some cream over the poached rhubarb.
400g pink (forced) rhubarb
3 dessertspoons icing sugar
2 dessertspoons of stem ginger syrup
2 dessertspoons water
275ml double cream
2 bulbs of stem ginger (from syrup),
biscuits, to serve
Trim the rhubarb of any leaf tops or undesirable bits and chop it into 5cm lengths and put in a pan big enough for all pieces to lay flat. Scatter over two spoonfuls of the icing sugar followed by two spoonfuls of the syrup from the ginger jar and finally the water. (It doesn’t seem like much water but a lot will exude from the rhubarb.) Put the pan on a low to medium heat with a lid on top and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the rhubarb is totally soft.
Spoon the rhubarb into a sieve over another saucepan then press out as much juice as possible back into the pan - really work the rhubarb for every last drip. Allow the pulp to cool in the sieve and put the juice pan back on the heat and reduce the liquid by three-quarters. Do this gently so as not to burn the syrup. Take the shocking pink syrup off the heat and allow to cool totally; folding hot syrup (or hot pulp) into the cream will melt it and have you muttering: “My work is poor and I am a fool!”.
In a large mixing bowl, whip the last spoonful of sugar with the cream until stiff, but only just so. The peaks should certainly stand proud with a lovely eggshell varnish to them but must not have that over-whipped and grainy look; over-whipping also makes a poor fool. Gently fold the rhubarb pulp and chopped stem ginger into the cream, occasionally dribbling in some of the syrup until all has been used up save for 4 teaspoonfuls.
Divide the fool among the glasses, or make one large one, and drip the remainder of the syrup over the top. Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving. Swedish ginger thins (the biscuits that are so delicate that it’s hard not to break half the pack when opening them) are excellent with this simple and elegant pudding.
Taken from The Good Table by Valentine Warner published September 2011 by Mitchell Beazley. Photograph by Jonathan Lovekin