[Now or never – Vanilla mousse and grenadine-poached rhubarb]


I was in love with someone. Or, as I recently realised after some happy times we spent together again, I was just loving some parts of this someone. Very much.

In fact, I was so smitten with the idea of him, that I would live in the illusion and forget – or more accurately, not even notice – the things that didn’t feel right.

But I now see them. Bright and sparkling. Right at my face. But I’m not crying, as I thought I would. Instead, I’m smiling. Embracing the facts, stopping expectations, celebrating the lovely moments we’ve had.

And before it gets too late because our love is wasted, I lock all the memories we have in a safe place.
Memories made of cold winter nights, squirrels, and film photography. And more recently, memories made of Pimm’s and lemonade, afternoons at the park, and breakfasts taken too late to admit it.


On any given day we would have piping-hot brownies with a tall glass of fridge-cold milk. But last Monday we shared a giant bowl of French fromage blanc, lightly sweetened and with just enough vanilla seeds to give it that lovely freckled look, topped with the pinkest rhubarb compote.

And as we were digging our spoons in it, I couldn’t not refrain myself from remembering the delicate vanilla mousse served with poached and compoted rhubarb that I told you about weeks ago.

I had made you a promise. And as bad as I am with promises, the less-frequent sight of rhubarb stalks at the farmers’ market, made it a now-or-never kind of thing.

Just like our break-up. It’s either now and we’ll be fine, or never and we’ll be torn.


Mousse à la vanille et rhubarbe pochée à la grenadine
Despite the super-long recipe, its name says it all. It’s basically a vanilla mousse served with grenadine-poached rhubarb, a rhubarb compote and meringue.

As usual you don’t have to make all the components. The mousse itself is a delight, topped with fresh fruits or even a chocolate sauce.
You could even pipe it into small bowls, and arrange some sliced poached rhubarb and rectangles of the rhubarb compote on top for an easier dessert.

For the poached rhubarb, I’ve decided to cook it at low temperature overnight so it keeps it shape and flavour. To do this, I place it in a Ziploc bag, along with a mix of sugar syrup and grenadine (a French favourite cordial). Then vacuum-pack it using a method very similar to this one (check the packing without the vacuum section). And finally, cook it overnight in warm water.

Mousse à la vanille et rhubarbe pochée à la grenadine

serves 8

for the rhubarb compote
4 gelatine leaves
750g pink rhubarb stalks
150g caster sugar

Soak the gelatine leaves into cold water.
Peel the rhubarb making sure you keep the peels aside. Slice the stalks roughly, into cube. Then tye the peels into a ball using kitchen string.
Place everything into a pan, and mix in the sugar. Cook over low heat until the rhubarb pieces are soft, and the juices have reduced nicely. Remove the ball of peels, and add the softened (and squeezed) gelatine leaves.
Pour into a 20x20cm container, and allow to set in the fridge.

for the vanilla mousse
200g milk
one vanilla pod
3 egg yolks
50g caster sugar
3 gelatine leaves
200g cream (35% fat)

Place the milk in a pan. Slice the vanilla pod lengthwise, and scrape the seeds. Add to the milk, along with the empty bean.
Cook over medium heat until boiling.
In the meantime, soak the gelatine into cold water.
Then, mix the yolks and sugar until smooth. When the milk is boiling, pour it onto your egg mix, then transfer to a bowl which you set over a pan of boiling water. Cook, mixing all the time until it reaches a temperature of 84°C. Mix in the drained gelatine leaves, and set aside.

Whip the cream to soft peak, then incorporate into the anglaise when it’s not warm to the touch anymore – around 30°C. Immediately pipe the mousse on top of the rhubarb compote. Then smooth the top by gently tapping on a work surface. Set in the freezer overnight.

for the poached rhubarb
75g caster sugar
75g water
20 pieces of 10cm-long peeled rhubarb (approx. 300g total weight)
150g grenadine syrup

Make a syrup by bringing the caster sugar and water to the boil. Cool down before using.
Place the rhubarb sticks, syrup and grenadine into a Ziploc plastic bag, and vacuum-pack as explained above.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Turn off the heat, place the bag into it, cover tightly with cling-film, and allow to cook overnight or until tender. If after a night in the water-bath, the rhubarb still feels hard to the touch, then reheat the water slightly and cook some more.

for the meringues
2 egg whites
100g caster sugar
100g icing sugar, sieved

Preheat the oven to 100°C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
Whip the whites until soft peak, then add the caster sugar and keep on whisking until thick and glossy. Gently fold in the icing sugar.
Pipe into long sticks using a 1cm nozzle. And bake for an hour or until dry.

for the montage
When your cadre is still frozen, slice it into ten 4x10cm portions using a hot knife. Allow to defrost in the fridge. Then arrange two pieces of poached rhubarb on top, and serve with meringue sticks.