"There are few combinations more heavenly than strawberry and rhubarb," says Curtis Stone. "Their natural vibrant flavours can be enjoyed together very simply or elevated to make a dessert that wows. Here, almond friand cake, studded with rhubarb compote, is baked in a tender tart shell, then broken into morsels. They're anchored by a sweet herbaceous tarragon crémeux with hints of elderflower."
- 1½ tbsp caster sugar
- 1½ tbsp elderflower liqueur
- 1 thin rhubarb stalk (about 100gm), thinly sliced crossways
- 100 gm small strawberries, hulled, sliced crossways
- 90 gm caster sugar
- 2 tbsp liquid glucose (see note)
- 1 tbsp golden syrup
- 450 gm strawberries, hulled, sliced
- Juice of 1 lime
- 125 ml milk (½ cup)
- 125 ml thickened cream (½ cup)
- 2 tbsp loosely packed tarragon leaves, coarsely chopped
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 titanium-strength gelatine leaves, softened in cold water for 5 minutes
- 225 gm couverture white chocolate, melted
- 60 gm unsalted butter, diced
- Scraped seeds of ½ vanilla bean
- 65 gm pure icing sugar, sieved
- 35 gm almond meal
- 2 tbsp plain flour, sieved
- 2 large eggwhites
- 2½ tbsp golden syrup
- 220 gm plain flour, sieved
- 110 gm cold unsalted butter, cut into 1cm cubes
- 60 gm pure icing sugar, sieved
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 250 gm rhubarb, trimmed, thinly sliced crossways
- 110 gm caster sugar (½ cup)
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1For strawberry sorbet, stir sugar, glucose, golden syrup and 125ml water in a small saucepan over medium heat until syrup reaches 84C, or until small bubbles begin to appear (4-5 minutes). Pour syrup into a container and chill over ice. Process strawberries in a blender until smooth, strain through a fine sieve (discard seeds) – you should have 300gm purée. Add purée and ¼ tsp salt to syrup along with lime juice to taste, cover and refrigerate to chill (4 hours or overnight). Churn in an ice-cream machine, place in an airtight container, cover and freeze until ready to serve.
- 2For tarragon crémeux, bring milk and cream just to a simmer in a small saucepan, add tarragon and set aside to infuse (20 minutes). Strain, return to pan and bring back to a simmer. Whisk yolks in a bowl to combine, then, whisking continuously, gradually add hot cream mixture. Return to pan and stir continuously over low heat until mixture reaches 84C or thickly coats the back of spoon (4-5 minutes). Squeeze excess water from gelatine and whisk into custard along with a pinch of salt until melted and combined. Strain through a fine sieve. Stir a third of the custard into melted chocolate until smooth and glossy, then stir in remaining custard in two additions. Blend with a stick blender until smooth, pour into a container, cover surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set (5-6 hours). Stir crémeux to loosen, place in a large pastry bag fitted with a 1.5cm nozzle and refrigerate until required.
- 3For friand batter, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add vanilla seeds and stir occasionally until foamy and light nut-brown (4-6 minutes). Strain into a heatproof bowl and cool to room temperature. Combine sugar, almond meal, flour and a pinch of salt in a bowl, and whisk in eggwhites and golden syrup to form a smooth batter. Stir a third of batter into cooled butter until just combined, then stir in remaining batter, cover and refrigerate until firm (3-4 hours).
- 4For sweet pastry, beat flour, butter and icing sugar in an electric mixer until crumbs form with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Add egg and mix until dough comes together. Divide dough in half, form each into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour to rest.
- 5Line a large baking tray with baking paper and place eight 7cm-diameter metal tart rings on top. Roll each pastry disc between 2 pieces of baking paper to 3mm thick, chill to firm (5 minutes), cut four 12cm-diameter rounds from each, then line tart rings and trim excess. Freeze until firm (10-15 minutes). Place pastry scraps on a separate baking tray lined with baking paper and freeze until required.
- 6For rhubarb compote, bring rhubarb, sugar, vanilla and a pinch of salt to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and rhubarb breaks down (10-12 minutes). Stir in lemon juice, transfer to a container and refrigerate until chilled (30 minutes), then spoon 2 tsp of compote into the bottom of each tart case.
- 7Preheat oven to 180C. Spread 2 tsp of friand batter in each tart case, smooth and bake on centre rack of oven until golden on the base and top is golden and firm to touch (20-22 minutes), then cool on a wire rack until firm (10-15 minutes). Meanwhile, bake reserved pastry scraps until golden (8-10 minutes), cool, and crumble.
- 8Bring sugar and liqueur to a simmer in a small saucepan, stir in rhubarb and return to a simmer. Remove from heat, set aside for rhubarb to soften slightly (5 minutes), then transfer to a bowl, add strawberries and toss to combine Set aside, tossing occasionally, until strawberries release their juices (25-30 minutes). 9 Reduce oven to 100C. Break each tart into 3 random-sized pieces and place on a baking tray. Cover with foil and warm in oven (4-5 minutes). Pipe 3 mounds of crémeux on each serving plate, add 3 pieces of tart and add a little rhubarb compote to plate, spoon macerated fruit and juices around, scatter with crumbled pastry, top with sorbet and finish with edible flowers.
Liquid glucose is available from select supermarkets and health-food stores.
Drink Suggestion: 2008 Nittnaus Beerenauslese Zweigelt, Burgenland – Austria’s native red in late-harvest form isn’t too sweet, making for a perfect counterpart to the tart rhubarb Drink suggestion by Fahara Zamorano