The first of the season's rhubarb always marks the end of winter in our pastry kitchen. Making the red stalk into a fool is one of the best ways to enjoy rhubarb in March. We always serve this soft dessert with buttery shortbread biscuits.
Rhubarb Fool - Serves 6 approximately
450g (1lb.) red rhubarb, cut into chunks
175g (6 oz.) sugar
2 tablespoons water
225-300ml (8-10 fl. oz.) softly whipped cream
Put the rhubarb into a stainless steel saucepan with the sugar and water. Stir, cover, bring to the boil and simmer until soft - 20 minutes approx. Stir with a wooden spoon until the rhubarb dissolves into a mush. Allow to get quite cold. Fold in the softly whipped cream to taste. Serve chilled with shortbread biscuits.
Jane's Shortbread Biscuits - Makes 25
175g (6oz.) white flour or spelt
110g (4oz.) butter
55g (2 oz.) caster sugar
Put the flour and sugar into a bowl, rub in the butter as for shortcrust pastry. Gather the mixture together and knead lightly. Roll out to 7mm (1/4 inch thick). Cut into rounds with a 6cm (2.5 inch) cutter and cut into heart shapes. Bake in a moderate oven 180°C/350ºF/Gas Mark 4 oven to pale brown, 8-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the biscuits. Remove and cook on a rack.
Note: Watch these biscuits really carefully in the oven. Because of the high sugar content they burn easily. They should be a pale golden - darker will be more bitter. However, if they are too pale, they will be under-cooked and doughy. Cool on a wire rack.