I am enjoying the abundance of spring/summer fruits and vegetables, love this time of the year. It is rhubarb season! Rhubarb is a wonderful ingredient often paired with strawberries or other fruits in desserts, but is not really a “fruit”. It is the extremely sour leaf stalks of a large perennial herb Rheum rhubarbarum. Its leaves are considered poisonous because of its high levels of oxalic acid as well other chemicals, so just be careful if you are new to rhubarb not to consume the leaves, although when you buy them the leaves are usually removed already. My inspiration for using rhubarb in a mille-feuille comes from my Paris trip because it was one of my most memorable desserts. It is traditionally composed of three pieces of caramelized puff pastry, sandwiched with layers of pastry cream or whipped cream. In this version, I’ve simply added a rhubarb compote. The components of this desserts are not too difficult to make, though if you’d like to challenge yourself to making puff pastry from scratch, that is another story of hours of chilling and rolling the dough. Anyways, I recommend buying ready made frozen all butter puff pastry, which can be found in supermarkets. NOTE: You can save up puff pastry scraps from making other pastries to make this dessert. If you use scraps, make sure they were just gathered together, chilled, and rolled. The dough should not have been kneaded nor have sat out in room temperature for too long (otherwise the delicate layers will not form properly). The trick in working with puff pastry is to keep it cold, and to work quickly, the fridge or freezer will also be your good friend.
- 260g Whole Milk
- 62g Sugar
- 50 g Egg Yolks (about 2 large yolks)
- 20g Corn Starch
- 12g Butter
- Quarter of a vanilla bean, scraped
- 225g Fresh Rhubarb, diced
- 135g Sugar
- 15g Orange Juice
- 4 g Corn Starch
- Zest of a quarter orange, about 1 teaspoon
- 10g Strawberry Jam (adds fruity flavour and texture)
- 650-680g Frozen Puff Pastry (I used scraps, see note above for tips on working with puff pastry)
- Icing Sugar for caramelizing and dusting
- Place milk, half of the sugar, and scraped vanilla beans and seeds in a small pan on medium heat.
- Place egg yolks, half of the sugar, corn starch in a medium bowl, whisk until smooth and creamy.
- When the milk has reached just under a boil, temper the egg yolks by pour in the hot milk little by little and mixing the yolk mixture at the same time, slowly raising its temperature.
- Return mixture into the pot, on medium heat, continue cooking the custard using a spatula until it reaches a boil.
- Take off the heat right away and strain the mixture into a clean bowl or container, stir in butter until incorporated. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface, cool and chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
- In a medium saucepan, place all ingredients except the jam. Cook on medium heat until mixture boils, continue cooking for about 4 minutes, until the rhubarb softens. Transfer to a bowl or container, chill until ready to use.
- Preheat oven to 400F. Roll out pastry to about 2-3mm thick, place on a parchment lined (13" X 18") cookie sheet, trim off the excess from the edges so the pastry fit the size of the cookie sheet. Dock pastry with a pastry docker, if you don't have one, just pierce the pastry evenly with a fork. Let the dough chill and relax in the fridge for about 30 minutes before baking.
- Place another piece of parchment paper on top of the unbaked pastry and 1-2 cookie sheets on top, (this is to prevent the puff pastry from rising too much during baking) bake for about 15 minutes, take off trays and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until slightly brown. Take out, dust surface with an even layer of icing sugar. Continue baking until the top is caramelized to a medium brown. When baking is done, cool until ready to use.
- When the pastry has cooled, cut off the edges, and divide the pastry into 12 equal pieces, about 2.5" X 4" per pastry. Set aside until ready to use. (TIP: carefully cut with a sharp serrated knife, pastry is delicate!)
- Have all components ready, make sure pastry is cut, piping bags are filled with pastry cream and compote.
- Place a piece of pastry on a plate, pipe pastry cream and compote, you can do it any way you'd like but avoid piping too much as you will be stacking another layer on top.
- Place another pastry on top, pipe more filling on top.
- Top with the last layer of pastry, dust with icing sugar. You can pipe more pastry cream or whipped cream to garnish if you wish.
The recipe for the rhubarb compote will yield more than enough for this dessert but it is a great for topping yogurt, toast, ice-cream, cake etc.
You can easily adjust the amount of filling that goes into the pastry and the size of your pastry. The dessert is best eaten freshly assembled because it is not very stable and doesn’t keep very well in the fridge – the pastry will start to absorb the moisture from the filling. If you have all the components ready, all you have to do is to assemble and serve whenever you’d like. This dessert both looks and tastes impressive! And…you can’t enjoy this without making a bit of a mess…
So excited to have my photo of the dessert printed in June 14th’s Gastropost in the Vancouver Sun! Mission complete!