Rhubarb and Strawberry Gratin

Rhubarb and strawberries marry well, especially if you can use the last of the forced rhubarb with the first home-grown strawberries. This dish has contrasts of texture and temperature, cold sorbet inside and crisp, gratinated, sugar on the surface – a bit like a baked Alaska.

Ingredients

For the Sorbet

  • 160g ( oz/ cup) caster (granulated) sugar 250g (9 oz/ cups) forced rhubarb, cut into 2 cm (¾ in) pieces
  • the juice of 1 lemon

For the Custard

  • 90g ( oz/½ cup) caster (granulated) sugar
  • 375ml (13fl oz/1⅔ cups) milk
  • a few drops of vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 25g (1 oz/scant ¼ cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 100ml ( fl oz/½ cup) double (heavy) cream

For the Compote

  • 250g (9oz/ cups) forced rhubarb, cut into 2 cm (¾ in) pieces
  • 100 g ( oz/½ cup) caster (granulated) sugar
  • 1 punnet (1 cup) strawberries

To Finish

  • 4 tablespoons caster (granulated) sugar, for sprinkling

Method

First make the sorbet. In a saucepan, combine the sugar with 160ml ( fl oz/ cup) of water and bring to the boil to make a sugar syrup. Set aside to cool.

Cook the rhubarb with 2 tablespoons of water for 5 minutes. Cool, then mix with the sugar syrup and purée in a blender. Add the lemon juice and place in the fridge to chill. When very cold, churn the mixture in an ice cream machine, or simply freeze.

To make the custard, heat half the sugar with the milk and vanilla extract. Meanwhile whisk the remaining sugar with the egg yolks. Whisk the flour into the yolk mixture and, when the milk reaches boiling point, whisk it onto the yolk mixture too. Return the custard to the saucepan and stir just until it comes to the boil. Pour into a bowl to cool.

To make the compote, cook the rhubarb with the sugar and 2 tablespoons of water. Spoon the cooked rhubarb and the strawberries onto 4 serving dishes. Put a scoop of rhubarb sorbet at the centre of each.

Whisk the cream until stiff, then fold it into the custard. Spoon this over the fruit and sorbet. Sprinkle with sugar and caramelize either with a blowtorch or under a hot grill or broiler.

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