Summer is the high season for fresh fruit and vegetables; so much so that I often find the fruit too plentiful. It's probably my own fault. When I go to the farmers' market and sample all those fruits I'm lured in by their wonderful fresh-picked flavor and I buy more than I should. Sometimes so much extra that I really don't even need to go to the farmers' market again the next week.
While I'm not sure my particular predicament was the motivation, but Jennie Schacht's Farmers' Market Desserts is a great source for uses of my extra fruit.
Take blueberries, which are at their peak right now here in California. The blueberry stand at my market was overflowing with blueberries this week. While I could have bought just a half-pint to eat with my cereal for breakfast it seemed a waste to not get more, especially since they are at their peak for such a short time each year. But I didn't want to make the old-standby blueberry muffins - don't get me wrong I love blueberry muffins but its not really my favorite choice for fresh blueberries. Instead, Jennie offers a great parfait that uses the blueberries whole. It also uses rhubarb, something I don't eat nearly as often as I'd like to, but since rhubarb isn't always available at the same time as blueberries Jennie suggests strawberries or raspberries as great alternatives.
That's just one example but I'm sure you get the idea. Farmers' Market Desserts lets me enjoy the best fruit of summer in great dishes while also introducing new fruits you might not normally try out.
And as Jennie says, if the blueberries are still in-season for you on July 4th the parfait has the perfect Red, White and Blue theme!
Rhubarb, Blueberry & Cream Parfait
Farmers' Market Desserts by Jennie Schacht. Chronicle Books (2010).
This is the perfect red, white, and blueberry dessert to celebrate the Fourth of July, or the entire blueberry-rhubarb season, which runs from about May to July. Depending on your location, Independence Day should hit close to the end of the blueberry season, just in time for a final celebration of that bright berry's bursting fireworks of flavor.
The crunchy topping is a great complement to the smooth cream and rhubarb. It is also a delicious topping for ice cream and fresh fruit. Alternatively, you can use granola or crumble your favorite gingersnaps over the parfaits. The crunchy topping and rhubarb can be prepared in advance for a quick-fix dessert.
Season to Taste: Substitute strawberries or raspberries for the rhubarb, reducing the sugar to 1/4 cup. Or, substitute blackberries or olallieberries for the blueberries.
Makes 4 servings
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 pound rhubarb (about 4 medium to large stalks), leaves discarded and stalks cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- Small pinch of kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
- 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/3 cup gently packed light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 8 pieces
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 pint (2 cups) blueberries
To make the sauce, stir together the sugar and water in a nonreactive saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the rhubarb and stir to coat with the sugar syrup. Reduce the heat to a slow simmer, cover, and cook until the fruit is quite soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Process until smooth using an immersion blender or standard blender, or mash and stir with a fork. Stir in the salt and lime juice, then taste and adjust with sugar or lime, if needed. (It will taste sweeter chilled than hot.) Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate in a covered container until cold, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.
To make the topping, stir together the flour, oats, brown sugar, ginger, and salt in a bowl. Sprinkle the vanilla evenly over the mixture, then scatter the butter over the mixture. Using your fingertips, rub in the butter until the mixture looks like wet, clumpy sand. Scatter the almonds over the top and mix them in with your fingers. Cover and refrigerate the topping for 30 minutes.
While the topping chills, preheat the oven to 375oF, with a rack near the center. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
Use your fingers to crumble the topping mixture onto the baking sheet. It should look roughly like granola, with a few larger clumps. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring and turning with a spatula once or twice during baking. Let cool completely before using. (It will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.)
To serve, using a chilled bowl and beaters, whip together the cream, crème fraîche, and sugar until the mixture holds medium-firm peaks.
Layer the cream, rhubarb, crunch topping, and berries in 4 parfait glasses. As a guide-without worrying about using exact quantities-divide one-third of the cream among the 4 glasses. Layer half of the rhubarb sauce over the cream. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of the topping into each glass. Then, sprinkle one-third of the berries over the topping in the 4 glasses. Repeat the layers, using half of the remaining cream, all of the remaining rhubarb, about 1 tablespoon of crunch topping for each glass, and half of the remaining berries. Top the parfaits evenly with the remaining cream, and then sprinkle evenly with the remaining berries. Finally, sprinkle lightly with some crunch topping. (You will have some crunch topping remaining.)
Serve immediately, or cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. The crunch will soften but will still add great flavor and texture.