Surprising Rhubarb for a Mother’s Day Dessert

Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumble with Mascarpone Whipped CreamLast Saturday when I arrived at my local farmers’ market in our small New England town, the crop that captured my attention was rhubarb. Resting regally on a folding table at one of my favorite stands were bundles of deep red and pale green stalks. I quickly picked up three bunches, knowing that the following week I needed rhubarb for a dessert in one of my cooking classes.

Although typically treated as a fruit, rhubarb is actually a plant with a tartness that requires a complement of sugar. The dessert I had planned was a warm rhubarb and strawberry crumble (which calls for both white and brown sugars); it takes only 20 minutes to assemble and then about half an hour in the oven. For the filling sliced rhubarb and strawberries are dusted with sugar and aromatic spices including cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. A traditional topping of flour, oats, brown sugar, and nuts (I used sliced almonds) Continue reading

A Glorious Cake for Mother’s Day

Genoise Cake with Pineapple Rum Buttercream Icing 1Years ago as a fledging syndicated columnist, I created a delectable genoise cake with pineapple rum buttercream icing. I didn’t worry for a minute that this dessert called for a hefty 3 sticks of butter and that it included multiple steps. Since this gateau has remained a personal favorite, I recently gave the recipe a facelift for Mother’s Day, reducing the butter, and streamlining the directions.

Genoise (from French for Genoese referring to Genoa) is the name of a sponge cake made with eggs, sugar, and vanilla. These ingredients are warmed over a pan of simmering water, then beaten in an electric mixer for several minutes until they have tripled in volume. Flour and melted butter are folded in next. When baked, this style of cake is golden and feathery light. For my genoise, I created an extra special buttercream icing with fresh pineapple. To make it, a pineapple sugar syrup is gradually beaten into egg yolks and then bits of softened butter are whipped in until the mixture is silken smooth. A touch of dark rum adds even more flavor. Continue reading