I adapted this from Nigella’s recipe which has far too much sugar. The straining of the rhubarb and boiling down of the liquid to a syrup means that when you eventually fold everything – rhubarb, cream, syrupy juice – together, you can get a lovely swirled effect. Use the rosiest, pinkest rhubarb you can find. I couldn’t get pink rhubarb so I got a pink colour by using the juice and puree from a cupful of thawed freezer raspberries instead. You can alternatively use cochineal, a natural pink food colouring, to achieve the desired effect, or not bother…
1 kg rhubarb, trimmed and coarsley sliced
4 heaped tbs xylitol*
1 tsp vanilla extract*
Optional: 1 cup frozen raspberries* thawed in a sieve over a bowl to catch the juice (if the rhubarb you have got is not the pink stuff then this helps you achieve that gorgeous pink colour but you don’t have to bother)
500ml whipping cream, ideally organic
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. Taste for sweetness, adding a little more xylitol if needed. Allow to cool.
- Meanwhile, if using raspberries set aside and keep any raspberry juice that has drained through the sieve. Then puree the berries by pushing through the sieve with the back of a spoon. Discard the seedy pulp and keep the puree.
- Drain the rhubarb in a sieve and save the juice separately. In a liquidiser or food processor, puree the rhubarb with the raspberry puree if using and 1 tsp vanilla extract. If you don’t have a liquidiser, simply beat well with a wooden spoon. Chill in the fridge. Also put a large bowl (for whipping your cream) in the fridge as you get a better effect if everything is very cold.
- Pour the reserved rhubarb and raspberry juice into a saucepan. Check for sweetness, adding some more xylitol if you wish, then heat and let bubble away until reduced by about half. Pour into a jug and leave to cool. Don’t refrigerate in case the juice crystallises and loses its lovely pink clarity. Puree together the rhubarb, raspberry puree if using, and 1 tsp vanilla extract until smooth.
You should now have: a pink coloured rhubarb puree and a small jug of thickened cooled syrupy juice.
- Now whip your cream in the chilled bowl until its thick but not stiff. Don’t panic if you forgot to chill the bowl, its not crucial, just desirable. Carefully fold in the rhubarb puree, then some of the syrupy juice, so the mixture is streaked and marbled. Pile into 4 glasses and, if you have it, top each with a sprig of mint. Refrigerate until needed.
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 fuels oxidation, inflammation and ageing. 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 the B vitamins. B vitamins folic acid, B6 and B12 are needed to keep artery-damaging homocysteine at low levels.