Is there anything more summery than tart, refreshing rhubarb? Double Crown‘s executive pastry chef, Ryan Butler, loves to use it in his seasonal desserts.
Butler, who started as a savory cook, may have switched to sweets, but what makes his desserts so satisfying is that he often incorporates savory in his creations, avoiding the too-sugary and instead going for a touch of tang or bitter or even salt.
“For me, dessert isn’t a sugar bomb,” he says. “It should be as balanced as any other dish. I love salty-sweet flavors. Using vinegars and herbs really brings classic pastry ingredients to another level.”
So, how did he come up with this dessert?
“I’m into rhubarb. It’s great to match it up with different ingredients, and also it has a sexy bubble-gum pink color that is really striking on plates.”
Spiced Rhubarb Shortbread with Yogurt Fool and Rhubarb-Lemongrass Gelee
For the Spiced Shortbread:
3 hard-boiled egg yolks
3/4 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger powder
In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and cream together until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Pack dough evenly into a 10×12-inch pan. In an oven preheated to 325 degrees, bake for ten minutes until golden brown.
For the Lemongrass Braised Rhubarb:
12 stalks crimson rhubarb
2 stalks lemongrass
juice of two limes
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 kaffir lime leaf
Rough chop six of the rhubarb stalks and place in a medium-sized saucepan. Add the lemongrass, lime juice, four cups of water, sugar, salt, and the kaffir leaf. Over medium-high heat, bring the contents to a rolling boil and cook until the rhubarb breaks down. Strain through a fine sieve, discarding the solids and reserving liquid.
Peel the other six stalks of rhubarb with a vegetable peeler and cut the into 3 x 3/4-inch pieces. Place them into a baking pan, cover with the reserved liquid, then cover the pan with foil. In an oven preheated to 375 degrees, braise the rhubarb for eight minutes. Take the pan out of the oven and let it rest on a counter top with a kitchen towel over the foil, until the mixture reaches room temperature (about 3 hours).
For the Yogurt Fool:
29 oz Greek-style yogurt
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream (whipped to medium peaks)
2 tbsp gelatin powder
sugar and salt to taste
Cream together the yogurt and sugar until light and fluffy. Bloom the gelatin following the instructions on the package, and add it to the yogurt mixture. Allow it to set, then season with sugar and salt to taste.
For the Rhubarb-Lemongrass Gelee:
2 cups rhubarb braising liquid
4 tsp gelatin powder
In a small saucepan, bring the liquid to a simmer. Add the gelatin, and stir to dissolve. Portion into a baking pan and set aside in the refrigerator until it sets.
Smear a small scoop of the yogurt fool on six dessert plates. Top with a slice of shortbread and top that with a piece of rhubarb. Cut the gelee into small cubes and arrange around plate. Garnish with the leaves of lemon balm, if you can find them.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 13, 2009