How to turn rhubarb pink
May 18th, 2006

It’s such a shame, always the same sad story. Each time my eyes spot some beautiful pink stalks of rhubarb – anything pink attracts me – and I begin to peel them back home, there’s not much color left. A hint of rose. Maybe. And lots of green, soft green, that tends to blend into some indefinable, rather unattractive achromatic/olive-brownish SOMETHING. Rhubarb doesn’t make it easy for me to like it, and I didn’t even start talking about its tartish taste.

Shaving rhubarb

When rhubarb is paired with strawberries, the color problem is usually squared away and the combination is turned into something red. Frozen raspberries in our freezer triggered another thought: why not pair my not-so-colorful-anymore-vegetable with a puree of those berries? This time inventiveness was rewarded, both color- and taste-wise – raspberry-rhubarb-vanilla-custard-tart it is!

Little rhubarb custard tarts

Roll out the puff pastry (here I used a store-bought, chilled, not frozen puff pastry, 25x42cm/10×16 inches in size), brush it with a bit of water -this way the pastry sticks together more easily- and fold it once (short side to short side). Use a rolling pin to ensure proper connecting, then again brush it with a little water. Start with the shorter side and make a tight roll, chill it in the freezer (wrapped in foil) until it becomes firm, but not frozen (roughly 20 minutes).

Cut the roll in 10 to 12 equal slices, about as thick as your thumb. Usually I use the “mathematical approach”, which I wrote about in our Pasteis recipe. Now manually shape them into little cups with your hand make them fit in a greased 12-hole muffin tray. Preheat oven to 225° Celsius.

Clean and peel the rhubarb, cut it in 5cm (2 inch) pieces. Either you’re handy with a knife of your choice or you take the easy way with a peeler: Shave off thin slices of each rhubarb piece, the more (thinner) the better. I borrowed this smart idea from Dana. Combine the shaved rhubarb, the raspberry puree, the water and sugar in a small pot, bring it to a boil and let simmer for some minutes until the sugar has completely dissolved. Don’t forget to check the sugar level, add more if needed. Remove from the stove.

Heat up milk, heavy cream and vanilla pod (split lengthways & add scraped out seeds) in another pot, bring to a boil and let simmer for some minutes. Remove from heat. Discard the vanilla pod.

Combine sugar with starch and a pinch of salt, add the egg yolks and beat well until you receive a homogenous mixture. Continue beating at very slow speed and pour in the still hot cream mixture. If you beat too fast, you may end up with an almost foamy mixture – not good.

Put the mixture back on the stove and carefully reheat it, while continuously stirring. Avoid to bring it to a boil, as it will curdle the eggs. After some minutes the mix has thickened and can be removed from the heat.

Fill the custard into the pastry shells – half-full, 2/3 is enough. Otherwise the custard will rise over the pastry and burn onto the tray. Top with a small teaspoon of the raspberry-rhubarb compote.

Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes, the pastry should get a nice golden brown color, but the rhubarb shouldn’t turn dark. Remove from the forms and let cool down. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.

Resume: The sweet vanilla custard pairs wonderful with the tartish raspberry-rhubarb, the color became unbelievably vivid – compared to what my regular rhubarb looks like. By the way, I burnt my tongue – again – because I had to try them straight from the oven. You think you’d learn from your own mistakes? Not in this particular matter, not me. Though they’re great right from the oven, my favorite ones I had the next day, chilled, straight from the fridge…

Sorry, couldn't resist ;)

Raspberry-rhubarb-vanilla-custard Tarts

Recipe source: own creation

Prep time: 40min., baking: 15-20 min.

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Ingredients (yields 10-12):

275g puff pastry (chilled, store-bought)

150g rhubarb (shaved)

5 tbsp raspberry puree (seedless)

1-2 tbsp water

4 tbsp sugar (or to your liking)

200 ml milk

200 ml heavy cream

1 vanilla pod, split lengthways, seeds scraped out

50 g sugar

a pinch of salt

1 tbsp starch

3 egg yolks

for decoration: confectioners

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