Saturday, June 18, 2011

Grenadine Poached Rhubarb and Rose Geranium Cream "Tart"

I love the idea of tarts, but I often don't like the tart shells. I'm one of those odd people who like pie filling better than pie crust (except if the pie crust is still dough, in which case I think it's delicious). So I'm always looking for less traditional types of pastries to use as tart shells. I have some favorites--for instance, an almond pastry shell from The Herbfarm Cookbook (if you don't own it, buy it--it's probably my favorite cookbook of all time). Brandy snaps are a new favorite for me. It holds desserts well, adds some buttery sweetness and some crunch, and looks beautiful while doing it.

Other than the brandy snap variation on a normal tart shell, this is a pretty typical tart. It layers cooked fruit on top of pastry cream. But the flavors really take it to the next level in my opinion. Rose geranium is an herb with a lovely rose scent, and I recommend planting it if you can. But assuming you don't already have all the obscure herbs I like to cook with, you can substitute rose water, which is available at specialty food stores and Middle Eastern grocers.

Grenadine Poached Rhubarb and Rose Geranium Cream "Tart"
makes 6 

For the pastry cream:
1 1/2 cups whole milk
10 rose geranium leaves or 2 tablespoons rose water
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoon cornstarch

2 large or extra-large egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream, optional

Heat the milk and half the sugar to almost boiling in a small saucepan. Add the rose geranium leaves, remove the pot from the heat, stir to submerge the leaves, cover the pot, and let it sit for 30 minutes to infuse the milk. Remove the leaves, squeezing them to extract as much milk as possible.

Slowly heat the milk back up. Meanwhile, whisk the yolks with the remaining sugar  until the yolks turn pale yellow. Add the flour and cornstarch and continue beating. While constantly whisking, add half the hot milk to this mixture. Then pour that back into the pan with the rest of the milk and whisk everything together. Cook over medium heat until the custard begins to boil, all the while whisking vigorously. Let it boil for 30 seconds, then use a rubber spatula to transfer the cream to a bowl. Place plastic wrap on the surface of the cream and refrigerate it until cool.

Right before serving, whip the heavy whipping cream. Fold this into the pastry cream mixture to make a lighter custard.

For the rhubarb:
1 pound rhubarb
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup grenadine

Cut the rhubarb into 1/4 inch slices. In a large bowl, toss it with the sugar and grenadine. Let it macerate for 20 minutes. Heat some water in the bottom of a double boiler. Place the rhubarb in the top of the double boiler (or just put a stainless steel bowl on top of a small saucepan). Let the rhubarb cook slowly for about 15 minutes, or until it is soft. Let it cool slightly before serving.

To assemble:
6 brandy snap baskets (see  previous post)
pastry cream
mint, for garnish

Place a brandy snap basket on each plate. Divide the cream between the baskets. Top the cream with the poached rhubarb, and garnish with mint.

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