It’s rhubarb season; my highlight of the culinary seasonal calendar. I have a few new rhubarb recipes up my sleeve but am slightly concerned that you all might get a bit bored with it!
These fabulous rhubarb and champagne blancmange puddings were the fruits borne from our early morning cooking sessions. Just like the old days before we had the British Larder in Suffolk, Mr.P and I used to concoct recipes in the early mornings enabling me to take the photos before lunch as I rely on natural daylight, we certainly encountered a bit of nostalgia in the creation of these. After the photo session and stuffing our faces with blancmange for breakfast it’s back to the keyboard to write and record data. As we are doing research exactly as to what constitutes a blancmange Mr. P is reading to me from Mrs Beaton’s All About Cookery 1913. As he’s reading Mrs Beaton’s recipe it is asking for isinglass and Irish moss. Immediately I tap away on the internet researching isinglass and reading it out loud we both said “urgh!” and felt slightly queasy, as it is actually the dried swim bladder of fish and is nowadays used to make glue. Both the Irish moss and and isinglass were used in traditional blancmange as setting agents, and the Irish moss was also incorporated for its medicinal purposes. We quickly put the book back on the shelf and decided to refer back to our own devised recipe using gelatine.
The classification of blancmange: it is a dessert using milk, cream and sugar and then set using either cornflour or gelatine. It’s also better knows in modern cookery as panna cotta or bavarois (Bavarian cream)
For my version I have poached the rhubarb in pink champagne, kept half for garnishing the plate and the rest is pureed with the champagne and set with gelatine to make the colourful pink tops that sits on top of the unctuous soft set blancmange.
Ingredients & Method
- 500g rhubarb
- 200g caster sugar
- 200ml pink champagne
- 6 leaves of gelatine
- 250ml double cream
- 250ml milk
- Seeds from one vanilla pod
Place eight 100ml moulds on a tray in the fridge. (I found these from Lakeland)
First poach the rhubarb. Wash and cut the rhubarb in 1/2 cm cubes. In a medium saucepan dissolve 100g sugar in the champagne over medium heat, bring it to the boil and simmer for 1 minute, add the rhubarb and bring back to the boil, simmer for one minute then remove the pan from the heat and leave the rhubarb in the hot syrup for 10 minutes. Soak two gelatine leaves in cold water to soften. Pass the rhubarb through a fine sieve. Blend two tablespoons of the poached rhubarb and 200ml of the poaching champagne till smooth, heat it in the microwave for 1 minutes then add the drained softened gelatine and stir to dissolve. Pour the rhubarb mix in the bases of the chilled moulds, return them to the fridge to set for one hour.
Meanwhile prepare the blancmange. Soak the remaining gelatine leaves (4) in cold water. In a medium saucepan bring the cream, milk and remaining sugar and vanilla seeds to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar, once boiling simmer for one minute, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the drained soaked gelatine leaves. Pass the mix through a fine sieve and set aside to cool whilst the rhubarb mix is setting. The cream mixture should cool till nearly cold but not set. Once the cream is cooled and the rhubarb is set pour the cooled cream over the rhubarb to fill the moulds to the top. Transfer the moulds to the fridge and set for 4 hours.
To serve, dip the bases of the set blancmange in warm water, give the mould a tap and turn it out onto chilled plates. Serve with the remaining poached rhubarb.