Tomorrow is my birthday and I’m feeling all sentimental. Maybe because I renewed my driver’s license today and I’m sad to report that my horrible photo of years ago will be replaced with a horrible new photo that pretty much looks identical in terms of craptitude. I’m a little miffed because unlike other years, today I actually wore make-up (something I rarely do) for my photo and felt I looked halfway decent. But I do have something to cheer about because for the last few weeks I’ve been taking driving lessons. I’ve had my license since I was about 17 but I haven’t driven in close to 20 years and felt it was about time for a refresher. So once I week I’ve been driving around town, on the highway, parallel parking and backing into a parking stall with a friendly driving instructor and this week was my last class. It’s exciting to have gained back a skill I had lost for so long and I like to think of it like a little present to myself. Happy birthday to me indeed.
The title of this post is paraphrased from my horoscope this week and I’d like to share this amazingly simple but incredibly luscious dessert with you. It will most definitely win your heart and your mind and if you have doubts, please let me address them here. The key to this dessert is the rhubarb. I used to stew rhubarb on the stove because it was what my mom did and it was easy. But what my mom didn’t know is that stewing rhubarb in the oven is 100 times better because instead of the rhubarb turning an awful bandaid pinkish brown, it stays nice and bright red when you do it up in the oven. And guess what, it’s just as easy as doing it on the stovetop! My Seattle friend taught me that a few weeks ago when I popped over for a short Easter visit and I’m thrilled to have learned another new skill. Ginger and sugar get added because you really do need the sweetness and ginger is like rhubarb’s new best friend (strawberry who?). It’s best if you whip up the stewed rhubarb the night before and then pack it away in the fridge.
The next day, run errands, clean your house and make a potato salad and have a barbecue with a couple of friends. Have loads of good beer on hand, grill up some New York steaks and hunker down outside and enjoy golden hour. Then while your friends are engaged in conversation, excuse yourself and whip up some heavy cream (I used my stand mixer because I don’t have anything to prove) and then set out a bunch of small juice or low ball glasses. They can be your grandmother’s elegant fancies or have goofy Japanese peanut characters on them. No one will care. Spoon out some rhubarb, crumble in your favourite gingersnap cookie and spoon over with whipped cream. Repeat until the glass is full and then stir it up with a knife. Put your glasses back in the fridge for 20 minutes or so and then bring them out and your friends will go nuts because they have never encountered such casually elegant deliciousness. It will be amazing because this little cup of soft cream, tart fruit and gingery cookie is so much more than it seems. Simple, right?
Besides the rhubarb, the other key element here is the cookie. Yeah, I could have baked up a batch of gingersnaps but I didn’t because I wanted this to be easy. So I bought a bag of my favourite giant delicious ginger cookies from the local bakery up the street. They’re chewy and super gingerery which makes them perfect for this dessert. If you left out the cookie, you’d have an old fashioned “fool” which is whipped cream and fruit combined into a fluffy dessert. A twist on that is an “eton mess” which adds in a meringue cookie which is fine, but for my purposes I went with the gingersnap to complement the rhubarb. It’s a winning combo and I copped the best name. Enjoy!
Oh, and a quick reminder that this weekend is Got Craft, so if you’re in town, come by and say hi!
rhubarb ginger foolish mess
How many this makes depends on how large your glasses are or how much you fill them. I filled up 6 full juice tumblers but I think you could easily get 8 portions by using small glasses – I found one glass was quite a large serving, but everyone else seemed just fine with their portions. Also, this is gluten free only if your cookie is gf, duh.
2 lbs rhubarb, diced
3/4 c sugar
2 T ginger, diced
500 ml heavy cream
1 T sugar
1 t vanilla
2-4 gingersnap cookies (the better the cookie, the better your dessert)
First, make stewed rhubarb. Preheat oven to 350F. In a large 10×13″ baking dish (or equivalent) add in the diced rhubarb, cover with sugar and sprinkle on the ginger. Cover tightly with foil and bake for an hour. Remove from oven. Be careful in removing the foil, the steam will burn your face and/or fingers, I’m talking from personal experience here. Let cool & refrigerate in a your chosen container.
Whip cream with your meaty forearms or get modern and use an electric mixer. Add in sugar to sweeten and vanilla to flavour. Whip until soft peaks form, not stiff peaks.
Place 6-8 pretty glasses (short low ball or juice glasses) on the counter and add a large spoonful of the rhubarb. Crumble some of the cookie overtop and cover with a large spoonful of whipping cream. Repeat until the glass is full, ending with a spoonful of rhubarb. Take a knife and swirl the mixture into a bit of a mess. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes before serving, but it will last in the fridge for a couple hours. Best eaten the day it is made.