Rhubarb desserts are fitting for the first blush of spring. Those gorgeous flamingo stalks are a relief after a long winter. For a baker, they bring a fresh kiss of colour into the kitchen when apples, pears and other winter staples are getting tiresome. We still have to wait for the summer bounty (stay tuned for an orgy of berry sweets) but if your sweet tooth likes a little tart, then today is your lucky day.
What you need:
- 4 egg whites at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
for rhubarb filling:
- 1 lb rhubarb
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
for whipped cream filling:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon icing sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon Cointreau or any other orange flavoured liqueur
Parchment paper, baking sheets, pastry bag
What you do:
- Preheat oven to 225 F. With a glass about 3 inches diameter, trace six large circles on a large sheet of parchment paper. Place the paper on a baking sheet.
- Whisk egg whites in mixer over low speed for 2 minutes until foamy. Increase speed to medium and whisk for another 2 minutes. Slowly add granulated sugar and then increase speed to high until stiff peak stage
- Fold in vanilla.
- Place meringue in pastry bag and pipe a layer of meringue onto the traced circle, around the edges to form sides of a nest.
- Repeat until all meringue nests are formed and add a dollop for the bottom of nest.
- Bake for 1.5 hours in preheated oven. Once baked, turn off the oven and allow meringues to dry out for another 30 minutes. They should be crispy and hard. Avoid making these on a humid day! If they are too sticky when you take them out, cook for another 20 minutes.
- Remove the nests from the parchment paper and set aside. You can make these a day in advance but keep them in an airtight container at room temperature.
- To roast rhubarb, turn oven up to 400 F. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
- Chop rhubarb stalks into 1 inch pieces. Add sugar, orange juice and zest. Let sit for 15 minutes to macerate then spread out on baking sheet.
- Roast in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Don’t overcook. You want them to keep their shape. Remove from oven and cool completely.
- Once the rhubarb and meringue nests are cool, whip the cream with the icing sugar, liqueur and vanilla. Whip until soft peaks.
- When ready to serve, fill the meringues with whipped cream and top with roasted rhubarb pieces. Top with another dollop of whipped cream if you want or leave the beautiful colour to shine! I like to drizzle a little of the red juice over.
These are best served the day you make them but if you want to prep in advance, roast the rhubarb and make meringue nests a day ahead then whip cream just before serving.
Enjoy your rhubarb kiss!