WCC#16: Rhubarb Brûlée Tartlettes with Ginger

May 9, 2007 at 3:26 pm | Posted in events, pies & tarts, sweet things | 6 Comments

rhubarb brulee tartlettes with ginger

Towards the end of winter I begin to get very antsy.  This is not so much for the arrival of warm weather as it is for the arrival of rhubarb at the Borough Hall Greenmarket in Brooklyn.  But wait– I’m not in New York anymore, I’m in Sydney.  And it’s not spring here, it’s fall.  So imagine my excitement when I saw rhubarb at the Good Living Growers’ Market in Pyrmont this past Saturday!  Yes, of course I bought some.  I wish my camera could have captured how beautiful the raw, iridescent red stalks were, but I make do with a point and shoot, so it didn’t.

I’ve baked so many rhubarb pies, I *maybe* could make one with my eyes closed…although the lattice work would be tough.  If I’m too lazy to make a pie, then the rhubarb always gets folded into a really easy cake batter.   I felt like making something different.  And I was looking for something to do with my Sunday afternoon while R was glued to the tube watching slasher movies.  As I was poking through my cookbook collection, I found a recipe in Regan Daley’s 2001 book In the Sweet Kitchen, which I recently purchased, for rhubarb brûlée tartlettes with ginger.  Hmm…that sounded good (as does every other recipe in Chef Daley’s book).  Not only would I get to use a new cookbook,  it would also give me the chance to use a new gadget, my little kitchen blow torch.

little torch

The recipe is broken up into four parts:  preparing the tartlette shells, making the brûlée base, cooking the fruit and assembling the final product.  In and of themselves, these steps are quite simple, and the first three can be done a day ahead if need be.  The finished tarts though should be eaten on the day of final assembly and baking.  In detailing the recipe, I’m going to skip the method for the tart shells.  I didn’t actually make Chef Daley’s pâte brisée recipe, as I had some pie dough in the freezer from something else and thought this was a good way to use it up.  Just use your favorite brisée recipe for the tartlette shells and blind bake them.

tartlettes ready for blind baking

For the sake of presentation, I did two things differently than in the original recipe. The liquid from the cooked rhubarb was a beautiful pink, so I didn’t discard it. I added a bit more sugar and reduced it to make a syrup.  I also cut the rhubarb a bit longer than instructed.  When putting the compote into the tarts, I put the pieces that had fallen apart the most during cooking on the the bottoms, filled the shells with custard, then lined up a few pieces that had retained their shape on top.

rhubarb tartlettes out of the oven

The finished dessert was delicious.  The tart rhubarb went nicely with the creamy, vanilla-scented custard and it had just a bit of a kick from the ginger.  The shell stayed crisp, and of course there was the brûléed top.  I may as well also mention that while my little torch is certainly no match for the hardware store type I’ve used in restaurants, it’s not bad.

The theme for the sixteenth Weekend Cookbook Challenge, hosted by Sara (the founder of WCC) at I Like to Cook, is “Something New.”  Since I’ve used two new things to make this recipe, I thought I’d submit it as an entry. 

Rhubarb Brûlée Tartlettes with Ginger - makes 6 servings
adapted from Regan Daley’s In the Sweet Kitchen

6 (4 1/2 -inch) pâte brisée tartlette shells, pre-baked, cooled and left in their forms
1 1/2 T redcurrant or plum jelly
2 scant T finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 cup turbinado sugar for brûlée

for the rhubarb: 
3/4 pound rhubarb stalks, washed, trimmed and cut into 3-inch lengths
1/4 cup plus 1 T packed light brown sugar

for the custard:
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup plus 1 T granulated sugar
1 T unsalted butter, cut into bits
pinch of salt 

- For the rhubarb:  Place the cut rhubarb and light brown sugar into a pot over low heat.  Cover and cook (gently stirring a few times) for 5 to 10 minutes until the rhubarb is tender, but still holds shape.  Drain and cool the rhubarb to room temperature before using, or refrigerate if making ahead.  Either discard the juice from the drained rhubarb, or reduce it to syrup consistency if desired for plating.

- For the custard:  Set up a water bath by bringing about two inches of water to a simmer in a large pot and setting a heatproof bowl on top.   Pour cream into a separate small saucepan and add the pinch of salt and the seeds and pod from the vanilla bean.  Pot the pot on medium heat to scald the cream.  Put the yolks and sugar in the bowl set over the gently simmering water bath.  While cream is heating, constantly whisk the yolk mixture over the water bath.  When cream is scalded and the yolk mixture is thick and pale, temper the cream into the yolks.  Leave the mixture over the water bath, stirring constantly with a spoon until it thickly coats the back.  This will take 5 to 7 minutes.  Strain the custard through a fine sieve and stir in the butter until melted and incorporated.  Press plastic onto the surface to avoid a skin and refrigerate until cool. 

- Assembling the tartlettes:  Preheat the oven to 325°F/170°C.  Place the tartlette shells on a flat baking sheet.  Gently melt the jelly and brush the bottoms of the shells with a thin layer.  Spoon a couple of tablespoons of cooked rhubarb into the shells and smooth out.  Divide the chopped ginger among the shells and spoon custard on top.  If desired, place a few nicely shaped pieces of rhubarb across the top.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  The filling should be a little jiggly in the center, but slightly set around the edges.  Cool the tarts on a rack (the custard will further set).  Place in the refrigerator if not eating within two hours (although you should not prepare them more than five hours in advance, according to Daley).

To serve:  Remove the tartlettes from their shells and sprinkle on the turbinado sugar.  Using a kitchen torch, melt and caramelize the sugar.  If you have placed some rhubarb on top of the tarts like I did, sprinkle sugar and brûlée AROUND the exposed pieces.  They will burn if you torch them.  Serve immediately with the rhubarb syrup, if using.

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6 Comments »

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  1. Wow, those are gorgeous! Thanks for taking part in WCC, so glad to have you.

  2. Thank you Sara! It was a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to next month’s WCC!

  3. I was just looking for a recipe like this! Looks wonderful.

  4. I love rhubarb, I love tarts and what a great looking combo. Your photos are stunning.

  5. This is a thing of beauty! Extremely professional looking!

  6. Thank you!


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