I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised recently. I spend a great deal of time at work trying to guess exactly what the general public likes to eat, so when I wrote up a recipe for rhubarb recently, I genuinely expected it to sink quietly past most peoples eyes and stomachs - like a slowly leaking boat sliding into the deep.
It just goes to show that attempting to double-guess the public stomach is a risky game fit only for the foolhardy and mug punters. Instead of a dusty, rattling and empty inbox - swaying in the wind - I was greeted instead with a small deluge of rhubarb lovers' personal tales, such as these ones here;
"I love rhubarb, but I haven't eaten it in so long… thanks for reminding me!" and
"I'm gonna make some rhubarb this weekend, and my husband better like it!" or
"I don't like rhubarb and I don't like you"
OK, the last one stung a little - and I haven't quite got around to deleting that message just yet, but the overwhelming consensus of the vox pop was thus - rhubarb is *so* the new cool.
In the self same roasted rhubarb recipe mentioned above, I described how it was not yet the favourite, but still a possible rising star on our new dessert menu. It is accompanied by a thick slice of rhubarb and vanilla bean ice cream terrine, which itself is lip-smackingly yummy - yet I decided not to add that recipe alongside. I mean if people were not even prepared to slice a little rhubarb and throw it in the oven, then why the hell would they want to make an ice cream terrine out of the stuff?
One persistent little monkey (you know who you are) thought otherwise. Every other day I was greeted with polite yet pointed messages like "Any joy with that Goddamn ice cream terrine recipe yet, sneff?" Well, yes and no. You see, I have already noded a few ice cream terrine recipes, and as yummy as they are, there is only so many times you can read the technique for iced terrines before you scream "Yeah, OK…I got it!"
Here instead, is a technique outlining rippled ice cream using the same flavours of rhubarb and vanilla. Of course, if you have your heart set on the layered terrine - simply make the ice creams below, then follow the terrine method used in this recipe here.
At the same time, there is no reason you shouldn't just simply make the rhubarb ice cream itself - it has a wonderful pink hue that will distract from the evil look in your eyes as you try and hog the bowl, keeping it well away from your nearest and dearest - as you surely will.
If you get the time however, do try and make the ripple ice cream. It looks simply sensational, and it tastes pretty close to heaven as well. Keen? Here's how it's done.
Rhubarb ice cream
- 1 large, or 2 small bunches of rhubarb (about 10 stalks)
- 5 egg yolks
- 200 gm (6 1/2 oz) caster sugar
- 250 ml (1 cup) milk
- 250 ml (1 cup) cream (35 % butterfat)
Vanilla ice cream
- 5 egg yolks
- 200 gm caster sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthways (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
- 350 ml (1 1/2 cups) milk
- 350 ml (1 1/2 cups) cream (35 % butterfat)
First make the rhubarb ice cream. Preheat your oven to 200 °C (390 °F). Cut the leafy tops off the rhubarb stalks and discard. Cut the stalks into finger-length slices and wash well. Shake a little of the water off the rhubarb and pile into a baking dish. Scatter with 50 gm of the sugar and toss well to combine. Cover the dish tightly with aluminium foil and place into the oven for 20 - 30 minutes. You want the rhubarb to completely collapse and turn soft. Cool the rhubarb slightly, then puree in a food processor or blender.
Combine the egg yolks and remaining sugar in a large, heatproof bowl and whisk together. Place the milk into a small saucepan and quickly bring to the simmer, then pour directly into the egg yolk mixture. Whisk immediately to stop the eggs from curdling. Return this mixture to the rinsed out saucepan and set over a gentle flame. Stir constantly until the mixture has thickened and coats the stirring spoon as you lift it out. This is for all intents simply a custard. Remember this if you get at all nervous.
Remove the custard from the heat and pour in the cold cream, mixing well. Measure out 500 ml (2 cups) of the pureed rhubarb and stir it into the custard mixing well. Don't panic if you are a little short with the rhubarb - and any excess is delightful spooned over the ice cream later.
Place the mixture into your ice cream machine and churn until just set. Transfer to a freezer container (an empty and clean ice cream bucket is ideal) and place into the freezer.
Now for the vanilla ice cream. First, set a large mixing bowl in the freezer (or if it doesn't fit, in the fridge). Place the yolks and sugar into a heatproof bowl and whisk to combine. In a small saucepan, bring the milk and vanilla bean to the simmer - but this time, do this slowly. This will extract the maximum amount of flavour out of the vanilla bean. Alternatively, just add the vanilla extract to the milk. If you can only get imitation vanilla essence, I would suggest leaving the vanilla out entirely. That stuff is liquid evil.
As soon as the milk has come to the simmer, pour onto the yolks and immediately whisk to combine. Return the custard to the saucepan and cook exactly as described above for the rhubarb ice cream. When the custard is cooked, remove from the heat and add the cold cream. Stir well and cool. Churn in your ice cream machine, and when it looks about 10 minutes from being ready, remove the rhubarb ice cream from the freezer to soften it up (if you froze the rhubarb ice cream over night - take it out of the freezer perhaps 20 minutes beforehand). You want the ice cream to be soft enough to stir, but not melted and sloppy. Aim for the same texture as the fully churned vanilla ice cream you will be combining it with.
Remove the mixing bowl from the freezer just as the vanilla ice cream is fully churned. Scoop out into the bowl, then scoop the rhubarb ice cream on top. Quickly and erratically, stir the ice creams together with the aid of a large spoon - but only lightly. You don't want them to become one homogenous mass - just lightly rippled together. Place back into your freezer container and set in the freezer for at least 8 hours, or overnight.