I adapted this from Nigella’s recipe that’s loaded with sugar and based on dairy cream, which many people don’t tolerate very well. I’ve been working for some time on a dairy-free version of cream and now I think I’ve cracked it – the result has that lovely “mouth-feel” you get from cream and is really good for you too. Use the rosiest, pinkest rhubarb you can find. Or (if you can be bothered) use cochineal, a natural pink food colouring, to achieve the desired effect. See “larder & shopping” for more info on unusual ingredients like cochineal.
1 kg rhubarb, trimmed and coarsley sliced
4 heaped tbs xylitol*
1 teasp vanilla extract*
500ml whipping cream
Optional: 4 sprigs of mint to decorate
*Check out my “larder & shopping” section for where to buy all unusual ingredients
- Preheat the oven to 190C. Mix the rhubarb and the xylitol together in an ovenproof dish.
- Don’t add water. Cover with foil or a tight fitting lid and bake for 45-60 minutes until the fruit is completely soft. Allow to cool slightly before straining off the juice if there is a lot. [If you like, you can use this juice to add to a glass of prosecco or champagne, or for drizzling over natural yoghurt or porridge].
- Puree the rhubarb with 1 tsp vanilla extract and process until smooth. Add more xylitol if needed, and, if you like, cochineal colouring to make everything pink. I recently used green rhubarb and needed about 30 drops of cochineal to get the pink colour I wanted. If you don’t own a liquidiser or food processor you could simply beat it with a spoon for a rustic effect. Chill this mixture. Put a large bowl (for whipping your cream) in the fridge as you get a better effect if everything is very cold.
- Whisk the cream in the chilled bowl till thick but not stiff. Carefully fold in the chilled rhubarb puree and pile into 4 glasses. If you have some mint, place a sprig on each. Refrigerate until needed.
To make this recipe even healthier, omit the xylitol and instead add stevia drops to the rhubarb once its in the blender/food processor. I would start with about 30 drops of stevia, then continue adding until you get the sweetness you want. This will vary depending on the rhubarb. Note: if you use stevia, take the dessert out of the fridge about half an hour before you want to eat. You will taste the stevia’s sweetness better if the food is not too cold.
Why this recipe is better for you
Using xylitol instead of sugar means you are not releasing vast amounts of sugar into your bloodstream by eating this dessert. Xylitol is safe for diabetics for this reason. Amazingly, sugar is much more harmful for your heart then cream. It is not cholesterol per se, but the oxidisation of cholesterol, that damages arteries. Sugar increases oxidation and cell damage. So if you want a healthy heart, reducing sugar is one of the keys. We now eat much less saturated fat than 50 years ago and yet heart disease has skyrocketted. Sugar also depletes B vitamins. B vitamins are needed to keep artery-damaging homocysteine at low levels. If you decide to use stevia instead of xylitol, this zero-calorie sweetener is even healthier. See “larder & shopping” for details.