Sunday, June 15, 2014

Danish Strawberry Rhubarb Trifle

I am learning to make Danish classic recipes since I am spending so much time in Copenhagen and also due to my desire to cook Martin's favorite foods. Tonight I made Danish Rhubarb Trifle but I added in strawberries to make it more like one of my favorite American dessert classics - Strawberry Rhubarb Pie.  Rhubarb is one of those wonderful signs of spring and has a lovely tart taste. 

Rhubarb has a long history in Chinese Medicine and has been used to support the kidneys, the heart and the lungs.  It is considered cathartic, laxative and has been shown to lower blood glucose and cholesterol. More recently, studies have found that it may be effective for some types of cancer as well. But, the studies used powdered rhubarb and the ancient Chinese were most fond of treating with rhubarb root. I prefer to eat my medicine and for me, it's only good for me if it tastes good and rhubarb tastes great!  In America, it has long been known as the pie plant.

The Rhubarb I bought was very tart and even though the strawberries were very sweet, I ended up using more sugar than I expected. I know that some of you like your desserts a little sweeter, so taste as you go.   also only lightly sweeten the whipped cream as the Macaroon Cookies are quite sweet too.  Most parts of this dessert can be made ahead and then the dessert can be assembled quickly before serving. That makes this the perfect dessert for a dinner party!

Danish Strawberry Rhubarb Trifle

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote:

5 cups Rhubarb, cut into small pieces - all leaves completely cut off
3 cups Strawberries, stemmed and cut into pieces
1 cup sugar (or more to taste)
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon Vanilla Sugar or 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Place water and sugar in a  medium saucepan and heat to boiling. Add in fruit and return to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium - low and cook for 20 minutes.  Take off heat and add the vanilla. Cool and then refrigerate. Can be made up to 2 days ahead.

Serve with:

2 cups lightly whipped cream (2 cups heavy cream with 2 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar)
Almond Macaroons (recipe below) or store bought, broken into small pieces

Almond Macaroons

2 large egg whites
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup ground almonds
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar a little at a time until incorporated.  Drop Tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet covered with a Silpat baking sheet or parchment paper.  Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool and break into small pieces.

To assemble:

Put 2 Tablespoons of the crumbled Almond Macaroons in the bottom of a glass serving cup. Then put in 3 Tablespoons of the Strawberry Rhubarb Compote. On top of that, spoon in 2 heaping Tablespoons of Whipped Cream. Repeat the layers and dust the top with some Macaroon Crumbs.  

Five Element Analysis

Rhubarb belongs to both the Wood Element as it grows in stalks and is ready to eat in the spring and also the Fire Element because it is red.  So both those elements are naturally present and the strawberries add even more Fire.  As this is a dessert and sweetened with sugar and Almond Macaroons, the Earth Element is also fully represented. The Whipped Cream and Vanilla contribute the Metal Element. The egg whites in the Macaroons bring in just a bit of the Water Element, but not much.  So this dessert would be really good served after a dinner featuring a Water Element main dish. 

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