There is probably nothing more Icelandic than rhubarb. More often than not, you will find rhubarb on the table in Iceland. It’s an accompaniment to Icelandic lamb steak, and a must with fishcakes. Rhubarb can very often be found on the Christmas table. Rhubarb finds its way into cakes and tarts and a rhubarb jam that’s mixed with whipped cream is often served with Icelandic pancakes. Oli has a rhubarb patch in his Reykjavik garden and his delicious (and oh so easy to make) fresh rhubarb jam is always in demand. When he had some plumbing work done in his apartment there, he gave the plumber a jar. Several days later the plumber returned an empty jar, and politely asked for a refill. Oli jokes that Icelanders are the rhubarb people!
Yeah, rhubarb is sour when you bite into a raw stalk, so don’t do that. But sweetened with some sugar, and cooked up it morphs into a mellow, silky, tart-sweetness that’s dessert perfect. Today’s recipe transforms crème pâtissière from an earlier post, meringue and Oli’s rhubarb jam into delightfully sophisticated, light and airy soufflés.
Served up with some poached rhubarb, it’s an Icelanders heaven!
You can find long, crisp red stalks of rhubarb in the fresh produce section of the grocery store. Toss the leaves, as they contain toxic oxalic acid.
Make the jam
6 ounces rhubarb, cut into small pieces
6 ounces sugar
1. In a medium size sauce pan, bring sugar and rhubarb to a boil over medium high heat. Cook, stirring occasional until rhubarb falls apart and is pureed.
2. Transfer to a bowl and cool.
Poach rhubarb to accompany soufflé
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1/2 of a medium sized rhubarb stalk (ripe part only), cut into 1-inch pieces
1. In a medium size sauce pan, bring water and sugar to a boil over high heat.
2. Toss in rhubarb and bring to boil again.
3. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and cool in the pot.
Preheat oven to 385 F
Prepare the ramekins
4 1-cup soufflé ramekins
1 1/2 tablespoon very soft butter for greasing the molds
1/2 cup sugar
1. Use a pastry brush to paint the inside of each ramekin with softened butter. Paint the sides with a bottom to top stroke. Make sure the entire inside surface is covered.
2. Pour all of the sugar into one ramekin. Gently rotate it to coat the sides with sugar. Allow excess sugar to fall into another ramekin.
3. Repeat the sugar coating process with the other molds.
4. Refrigerate ramekins until time to fill.
1. Place crème patisserie in a large bowl and gently whisk in rhubarb jam.
Make the meringue
3 egg whites, room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
Meringue is easy to make but it is delicate. Here are a few things that are extremely important when making meringue.
*Avoid making meringue on a humid or rainy day.
*Do not use a plastic bowl.
*Make sure you have a clean bowl. It’s a good idea to put few drops of lemon juice or vinegar on a paper towel and clean the inside of the bowl.
*The tiniest bit of egg yolk will result in a failed meringue. If any yolk falls into the whites, lift it out with a piece of eggshell.
1. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk. Whisk on medium-high speed for about 30 seconds.
2. Add one tablespoon of the sugar and continue whisking.
3. Count to 10 before adding the next tablespoon of sugar. It is important that the sugar is totally incorporated and dissolved before adding more sugar.
4. Count to 10 again and add the third tablespoon of sugar.
5. Whisk until the merengue is stiff but make sure not to overwork it. When it holds peaks and if you were to turn the bowl upside down the meringue should stay put.
Make the soufflé
1. Use a hand whisk to gently whisk one third of the meringue into the rhubarb crème. Then use a spatula to very gently fold in the remaining rhubarb crème.
2. Remove ramekins from the refrigerator and fill each 1/4 full with the rhubarb crème meringue. Briskly tap the bottom of each ramekin on the table to settle the crème. Then fill with remaining crème.
3. Use an icing spatula to even the surface. Make sure they are filled to the top.
4. Run your thumb around the inside edges of each ramekin to remove the crème from the sides. This will help the soufflé to rise.
5. Place ramekins on a cookie sheet and slide into the middle of the preheated oven.
6. Bake 12-15 minutes. Do not open the oven door until done.
7. When puffed and golden, remove from oven and sprinkle tops with confectioner’s sugar. Serve immediately with poached rhubarb.
Enjoy a bit of Icelanders’ heaven!