Easter Rhubarb Treats

garden rhubarbIt’s April and the rhubarb season is upon us! The rhubarb in my garden has been flourishing for a couple of weeks now and I’ve just picked my first big batch ready for Easter cooking. It’s something I always look forward to – mainly because of my childhood.

I grew up in Yorkshire, England where there is a great tradition of growing and cooking rhubarb. Indeed, the famous “Rhubarb Triangle” is in Yorkshire. There are 3 towns which between them once supplied 75% of the world’s “forced rhubarb.” This is rhubarb specially grown indoors and harvested by candlelight no less!

My mother’s and grandmothers’ cooking regularly featured rhubarb during the Spring-Autumn months, the two most notable being hot rhubarb crumble and delicious, sticky rhubarb jam. I often make rhubarb crumble at this time of year, although it’s nice to vary it occasionally by adding apple or ginger and I usually serve it with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or hot custard. Delicious! There are plenty of variations on a theme with crumble like this super rhubarb crumble recipe with an Irish twist.

rhubarb sorbetMy real food passion, as will become evident in my recipe posts, is ice cream making. So over the years I have increasingly tended to reach for my ice cream maker when the first rhubarb sprouts!

I developed a tasty rhubarb sorbet  which is easy to make and has just 3 ingredients: rhubarb stalks, sugar and water.

As you can see in the photograph, it makes a lovely pink ice cream!

Today I’m going to share with you a recipe for what I think is an ideal dessert for the Easter holidays. I have made it many times before but this is the first time it’s been published: Rich & Creamy Rhubarb and Vanilla Custard Ice Cream!

rhubarb vanilla custard ice cream

Rhubarb & Vanilla Custard Ice Cream Recipe (Serves 6-8)

9 oz (225g) of fresh rhubarb stalks, trimmed and with leaves removed
NOTE:  Rhubarb leaves are poisonous – never eat them.
4 egg yolks
6 oz (150g) caster sugar
1 teaspoon cornflour (optional – for if you want a thicker ice cream)
1/2 pint (250ml) full cream milk
1/3 pint (165ml) light cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


stewing the rhubarbStep 1 – Stew the rhubarb with 2 oz of the sugar + 2 tablespoons water.
Method: Take the rhubarb stalks, rinse thoroughly in cold water and chop into 1 inch chunks. Place in a saucepan, add the water and sugar and stir, whilst slowly bringing  to the boil. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the rhubarb is soft, broken up and stewed. Place the stewed rhubarb to one side to cool whilst making the rest of the recipe.

Step 2 – Make the custard base.
Method: In a bowl, beat together the egg yolks, sugar (and corn flour if using it) until thick. Pour the milk into a saucepan and bring slowly up to boiling point – do NOT boil.  Pour the hot milk into the yolks and sugar, and mix whilst stirring. Pour the mixture back into the pan and heat gently, stirring until the custard thickens – do NOT bring to the boil or it will probably curdle.  When you can see a film form over the back of your spoon it’s time to remove the saucepan from the heat. Leave to cool.

Cooled stewed  rhubarb and custardStep 3 – Prepare 2 clean bowls. Pour the cooled custard base into one bowl and the cooled, stewed rhubarb into the other bowl. Place both bowls in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Step 4 –  Remove the custard base from the refrigerator and stir the cream into it. Then stir in the vanilla extract.

Step 5 –  Remove the stewed rhubarb from the refrigerator and pour it into the custard/cream mixture whilst stirring gently. Make sure it is thoroughly blended in.

Step 6 –  Transfer the complete mixture into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Generally, it’s a 20-25 minute freezing/batching cycle.

Don’t have an ice cream maker? Don’t worry, you can make ice cream without an ice cream maker :)