For some reason I love saying the word “syllabub” and while making this recipe I kept repeating it over and over again like an actress warming up before taking the stage. “Syllabub, syllabub, syllabub”. There's something wonderfully old-fashioned about syllabub. One can imagine a Jane Austen heroine daintily indulging on a little bowl of syllabub in-between cotillions. I’m particularly partial to it, as not only is it delicious, it can be whipped up within minutes, it's easily made in advance and a great way to use up aging fruit and leftover cream. In this variety I’m using rhubarb and replacing the traditional white wine with a few tablespoons of Amaretto liqueur. The Amaretto’s almond flavour cuts through the sourness of the rhubarb brilliantly, making it a classic pairing.
My love of rhubarb is on the verge of obsession. Having grown up in sub-Saharan Africa, rhubarb was scarce. Suffice to say, I’m now making up for lost time. Just as winter becomes a little too much for us to bear, these jewels emerge from the Rhubarb Triangle of West Yorkshire, perfectly pink and tearfully tart. Forced Rhubarb is synonymous with Yorkshire, having been grown there for hundreds of years. It’s even achieved protected name status alongside other famous delicacies such as Parma Ham and Champagne. The stems are grown in the dark and only exposed to candlelight. Legend has it that if you listen very carefully you can actually hear them grow. It’s nicknamed champagne rhubarb, because it can be a little pricey, but in the depths of February the indulgence is entirely justifiable. Avoid the leaves, as they’re poisonous, and focus on the stems.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
For the rhubarb: Juice and grated zest of 1 large orange 75g caster sugar (you may wish to add a little more at the end depending on the sourness of the rhubarb) 4 stems of pink rhubarb, cut into thumb-sized pieces.
For the syllabub: 150mls double cream 2 tbsp Amaretto liqueur (more if you like it boozy!) 1 tbsp caster sugar
To serve: Amaretti biscuits to be crumbled over the top
In a sauce pan, warm the orange juice and then melt the sugar over a medium heat. Add the chopped rhubarb and orange zest. Cook for 4 – 5 minutes, until the rhubarb has softened. Depending on the sourness of the rhubarb, you may want to add a little more sugar. Set aside to cool.
In a large mixing bowl combine the cream, amaretto liqueur and sugar, Whisk to form soft, pillowy peaks. Be careful not to over whisk.
Spoon the rhubarb into separate glasses or bowls, pouring over a little of the extra juices. Dollop the cream on top and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours. When you’re ready to serve, crumble some crushed amaretti biscuits on top of the cream (don't do this before as it can make the crumbs a little soggy).