I’ve been out of town, eating most of my meals in restaurants, and constantly on-the-go in preparation for a dear friend’s wedding yesterday. I feel as though I have lost touch with my husband, my daughter, my kitchen, and my sanity.
I’ve also been completely oblivious as to what season we’re heading toward and what lovely new produce is gracing the markets. So when I saw these gorgeous fresh red rhubarb stalks, it dawned on me that we are entering the most exciting season of produce there is: summer.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of working with rhubarb, it’s something that you should try at least once. It’s naturally very bitter, so you wouldn’t want to eat it plain or even unsweetened. But when stewed with a little sugar and vanilla, it makes me want to simultaneously dance an interpretive rhubarb jig and weep out of pure culinary bliss.
But what could I do with this rosy-pink compote that would compliment its flavors without being overpowering? A pie with strawberries and buttery crust is certainly delicious, but to me, rhubarb always feels like second fiddle in that situation. And nobody puts rhubarb in a corner.
Plus, the corners of my kitchen are probably really gross, so you wouldn’t want anything edible over there anyway.
Summer’s favorite dessert is strawberry shortcake, so why not nix the berries, pump up the volume on the whipped cream, and top it all off with a dollop of dreamy rhubarb compote?
That would certainly do. For the whipped cream, I began by whipping some regular heavy whipping cream and then added some texture and body with ricotta cheese. Lemon curd (which you can find next to the jam in your local store, or at a great price here) lent a tart, rich bite.
The result? I’m not usually one to toot my own horn, but…
TOOTY FLIPPIN TOOT.
These were to die for. The compote was fresh and light, the cream silky and rich. The two flavors blended together in my mouth with wisps of cake and I was lost forever in a dessert dreamworld.
For the cake, I simply used store-bought angel food. I thought it had a nice fluffy texture and didn’t overpower any of the other flavors. If you’re not an angel food fan, you could also use slices of pound cake, homemade scones (county fair-style), biscuits, or sponge cake.
I will be trying this with all of those varieties of cakes this summer. I have my go-to dessert for the warm months ahead. Plus, the rhubarb compote is so versatile: I’ve already used the leftovers in another recipe, spread it on my toast, dolloped it on my yogurt, and poured it over vanilla ice cream. There can never be too much rhubarb in my world.
It felt so good to be back in the kitchen that I don’t know if I will ever leave it. I’m still in a bit of a fog from my girl’s getaway, but my daydreams consist of honeydew gazpacho and seared ahi with pears. It’s a nice fog to live in as I chop, stir, and photograph some lovely new recipes for the weeks ahead.
Happy monday, all!
Rhubarb Shortcakes with Lemon Ricotta Cream
- 8 stalks rhubarb, trimmed of leaves and chopped into 1/4″ pieces
- 1 1/4 cups water, divided
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 packet gelatin
- 10 oz. ricotta cheese
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/3 cup lemon curd
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
- 8-10 slices shortcake (angel food, sponge cake, biscuits or scones would all work well)
Make the rhubarb compote ahead of time: bring 1 cup of the water to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the rhubarb, stir and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until rhubarb has softened and mixture has thickened. Remove from heat. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup water into a shallow dish and sprinkle in gelatin packet. Let sit for 5 minutes. Once rhubarb mixture has cooled slightly, stir in activated gelatin and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight.
To make the cream: Beat the heavy whipping cream on medium-high until stiff peaks form. Fold in the ricotta cheese, lemon curd, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract.
To assemble the shortcakes: Top each slice of cake with a hefty dollop of the cream and a few tablespoons of the rhubarb compote. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs if you want to make it all purdy.