Every year, when Spring rolls around, I cannot wait to get my hands on some rhubarb.
Rhubarb apparently grows wild in the mid-west, but here in my part of the United States its popularity makes it a hard stalk to come by. This year, I started looking for rhubarb in just about every supermarket and farmer’s market in my neighborhood weeks ago, but everywhere I went I’d be met with empty baskets and apologies. I got so tired of hearing, “Sorry, we’re out of it,” that I started to resign myself to the idea of a rhubarb-less Spring. And then, lo and behold, I was at this little grocery store not one block from our home and there, right in front of me, was a big basket of juicy, colorful rhubarb stalks.
I squealed with delight and picked one, and a friend from China who happened to be staying with us looked at me, puzzled, and asked, “celery?” She couldn’t quite understand why I was so excited.
Truth is, there is just something magical about these ruby-red stalks. Rhubarb is incredibly tart– so much so that it is hard to imagine its popularity as a dessert ingredient, if you’ve never had it. And if you never have, well, there’s only one way to remedy that.
One of my favorite ways to eat rhubarb is in a Rhubarb Pie, but this time I wanted to make something cool and refreshing and delicious that would be perfect to gorge on during a lazy weekend afternoon. Like this Rhubarb Mousse.
I wanted to make this mousse soy-free, so instead of tofu, which I might have normally added, I chose coconut milk. This is the kind of coconut milk that comes out of a can, and you want to use just the thickest part. Also make sure your coconut milk is fresh and sweet– this is one ingredient that loves to go rancid on you when you leave the can someplace hot.
To add more flavor to my Rhubarb Mousse, I threw in the seeds of a vanilla bean, some cinnamon, and some delicious, deep, rich maple syrup. Perfect.
Try making this beautiful mousse if you have some time this weekend. It doesn’t take long at all, I promise.
- 3 rhubarb stalks, ends trimmed and stalks chopped into ½-inch pieces
- ⅓ cup apple or cranberry juice
- ½ cup coconut milk
- 1 vanilla bean, split in the middle and seeds removed, or 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ cup maple syrup
- ½- 1 cup confectioners' or powdered sugar (use more or less based on your taste and the tartness of the rhubarb)
- 1 tsp agar powder mixed with 2 tbsp hot water (optional-- it helps thicken the mousse, but if you can't find it, you can leave it out).
- Place the rhubarb in a saucepan with the apple or cranberry juice. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook about five minutes or until the rhubarb is really soft and mushy.
- Place the rhubarb with the juice and the remaining ingredients in a blender and blitz until really smooth and airy, about 2 minutes.
- Put the mousse into serving bowls and chill before serving.