Rhubarb and custard. How could you possibly resist? It's just one of those combinations.
This idea came from wanting to elaborate on the traditional stewed rhubarb and custard. Crumble seemed too obvious. Then vanilla custard mutated into vanilla pastry cream, a pastry tart case appeared, and I learned to roast rhubarb...
I found these sticks of rhubarb in our local supermarket and couldn't help but buy some. They looked so fresh and had that wonderful iridescent pink glow.
My grandma used to grow rhubarb in her fruit cage - on the left as you walked in you could see the great green umbrellas sprouting out of the glass cupboard with little snippets of red peaking through. We always used to lightly stew rhubarb and eat it with homemade custard. Simple but quite lovely.
I had never roasted rhubarb before. It's wonderful - it keeps its shape and the flavour is incredible. As you don't add any water, the taste isn't muted or diluted. You just add sugar, which caramelises slightly and creates a wonderful bright pink syrupy sauce. I used soft brown sugar to add to that intense flavour (and because, in case you haven't noticed, I have a penchant for using soft brown sugar in just about anything).
Another recent supermarket cannot-resist buy was this pâte de vanille. Apparently each coffee spoon is the equivalent to a vanilla bean - and it certainly adds plenty of speckly vanilla seeds. I tried tasting some and it seems quite sugar-heavy but that wasn't a problem here. I'm looking forward to trying it in other things as it performed so well here.
And so these little tarts came together - a plain but lovely tart case, a thick vanilla pastry cream and a pile of the glorious roasted rhubarb. The syrupy juices intermingle with the cream. I almost can't describe - it's just glorious. Do try making them for yourselves - or at least try roasting rhubarb. I can't believe I never had before.
250g rhubarb (approx two sticks)
50g soft brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 190C. Chop the rhubarb up into 1 cm pieces. Tip into a roasting tray with the sugar and toss until evenly coated and in a single layer. Cover with foil and pop into the oven for 10-15 minutes. Remove the foil and put back into the oven for another five minutes. Leave to cool. Can be kept in the fridge for a few days.