Intro

I work alone. Oh sure there are three other little bodies who take up the small space in the house with me during the days. But the role of mother is lonely. I love the moments when my husband emerges from his office downstairs to briefly come upstairs for lunch or a coffee refill. I try and pack those moments with as much adult conversation he will allow.
While I am very much an introverted person I need community. The hearty conversations among friends, the nods of approval and the questions asked lovingly that give your heart a refining tug. The ideas generated when equally passionate friends start with a seed and end up with a flourishing dish.
It began as roasted rhubarb with creme fraiche ice cream and vanilla shortbread. Whether it was because we had grown tired of repeating this dessert or because the last batch of the ice cream had a texture that was too closely related to chalk. Either way, Julie (my cooking class partner) and I set out to change it.
After class one night we rested our legs for a moment and after hours of prepping food, making food and teaching about food, we continued to talk about food. It’s what we do. Our minds began to churn out different ice cream flavors. She shouted, “Brown Sugar!”
Of course. Rhubarb and brown sugar are made for one another. Tart and warmly sweet.
My mind wandered from ice cream and eventually found its way back to semifreddo – essentially a frozen mousse. The satisfaction of ice cream without the chilling and churning.
Eventually the idea had morphed the original dessert into a Muscovado semifreddo with roasted rhubarb and shortbread cookie crumbles.
The rhubarb remains the same. Like a child caught in the middle of a parental spat, the rhubarb was innocent. Doing its job perfectly by being a soft warm bite and providing a welcoming sourness in the midst of cool sweetness.
Muscovado is a unrefined brown sugar with a hearty punch of molasses flavor. Little is used in the recipe so the pungent aroma is needed to stand up to the rhubarb. The semifreddo slowly puddles and melts under the weight and warmth of the rhubarb creating a cool, creamy sauce that forgives the rudeness of licking one’s plate.
The shortbread whispers vanilla bean throughout the dish and adds a perfect crunch to an otherwise soft bite.
The reward of sharing one’s passion and surrounding yourself with a generous community is being able to create something that would have never been possible if you were alone.
Vanilla Bean Shortbread Crumbles
1 ½ sticks of butter, softened
½  cup sugar
1 ¾  cups flour
¾  tsp kosher salt
seeds from ½ a vanilla bean
¼ cup oats (optional)
In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, oats and salt; then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together.
Mix the ingredients until large crumbs appear. You can use your hands in the final moments of mixing to get the size crumbs you desire. They will be varied in size – which is great, but you want a portion of them to be about the size of a penny.
Bake at 350* until golden brown around the edges – about 12-15 minutes. If you oven is uneven check on them after 10 minutes of baking and carefully move them around as you would if you were toasting nuts, as the crumbs on the outside tend to get darker faster.
Let cool and store in an airtight container for up to one week.
Roasted Rhubarb
2 lbs Rhubarb, cut in 1/2 inch chunks
1/2 cup dark brown sugar (or more depending on desired sweetness)
zest from 1/2 orange (optional)
3 tbl butter
On a parchment lined baking sheet combine all the ingredients except the butter. Dot the top of the fruit with 1/2 inch chunks of butter. Bake in a pre-heated 350°F degrees oven for about 20-30 minutes (until juices are bubbling and the rhubarb is cooked through).
Muscovado Semifreddo
serves 8-10, depending on how you slice it
A semifreddo is essentially a frozen mousse. This recipe requires the use of several bowls but I assure you the extra cleaning time will be completely worth it.
Due to the moisture content in the sugar it tends to clump easily. Make sure to break up any visible clumps before adding to the yolks.
1 ⅓ cups heavy cream
½ cup muscovado sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 vanilla bean, seeds removed (optional)
3 eggs, separated
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
Lightly spray a loaf pan with pan spray. Cover the inside with plastic wrap. Set aside.
In a very clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment add the egg whites. Whip until frothy. At that point add the cream of tartar and whisk until medium-stiff peaks form.
Carefully put the whites in another bowl. Wipe clean.
Next add the yolks and the muscovado sugar to your mixer bowl. Make sure the sugar is free of large clumps. Add the salt, vanilla and vanilla seeds, if using. Whisk until double in volume.
Remove this mixture from the mixer and place in another bowl.
Wipe out the bowl of the stand mixer one last time and whip the cream until medium peaks form.  Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold the whipped yolks into the cream. Once completely combined add ⅓ of the whites. Fold in to lighten the mixture.  Then fold in the rest of the whites until completely mixed. Take care with folding as you don’t want to loose any of the volume you worked so hard to get.  Place the mixture in the prepared loaf pan. Cover with more plastic wrap on the surface of the semifreddo. Freeze for at least 4 hours.
Remove from the freezer, slice and serve with roasted rhubarb and vanilla bean shortbread crumbles.

5654125575_fb728a5bca_b

I work alone. Oh sure there are three other little bodies who take up the small space in the house with me during the days. But the role of mother is lonely. I love the moments when my husband emerges from his office downstairs to briefly come upstairs for lunch or a coffee refill. I try and pack those moments with as much adult conversation he will allow.

While I am very much an introverted person I need community. The hearty conversations among friends, the nods of approval and the questions asked lovingly that give your heart a refining tug. The ideas generated when equally passionate friends start with a seed and end up with a flourishing dish.

It began as roasted rhubarb with creme fraiche ice cream and vanilla shortbread. Whether it was because we had grown tired of repeating this dessert or because the last batch of the ice cream had a texture that was too closely related to chalk. Either way, Julie (my cooking class partner, and creator of The Joyful Kitchen) and I set out to change it.

5654697194_da00fc3036_b

After class one night we rested our legs for a moment and after hours of prepping food, making food and teaching about food, we continued to talk about food. It’s what we do. Our minds began to churn out different ice cream flavors. She shouted, “Brown Sugar!”

Of course. Rhubarb and brown sugar are made for one another. Tart and warmly sweet.

My mind wandered from ice cream and eventually found its way back to semifreddo – essentially a frozen mousse. The satisfaction of ice cream without the chilling and churning.

Eventually the idea had morphed the original dessert into a Muscovado semifreddo with roasted rhubarb and shortbread cookie crumbles.

5654124251_e48d7b875d_b

The rhubarb remains the same. Like a child caught in the middle of a parental spat, the rhubarb was innocent. Doing its job perfectly by being a soft warm bite and providing a welcoming sourness in the midst of cool sweetness.

Muscovado is a unrefined brown sugar with a hearty punch of molasses flavor. Little is used in the recipe so the pungent aroma is needed to stand up to the rhubarb. The semifreddo slowly puddles and melts under the weight and warmth of the rhubarb creating a cool, creamy sauce that forgives the rudeness of licking one’s plate.

The shortbread whispers vanilla bean throughout the dish and adds a perfect crunch to an otherwise soft bite.

The reward of sharing one’s passion and surrounding yourself with a generous community is being able to create something that would have never been possible if you were alone.

5654697536_551e4f31d4_b

continue on for recipes…

Vanilla Bean Shortbread Crumbles

1 ½ sticks of butter, softened

½  cup sugar

1 ¾  cups flour

¾  tsp kosher salt

seeds from ½ a vanilla bean

¼ cup oats (optional)

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, oats and salt; then add them to the butter-and-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together.

Mix the ingredients until large crumbs appear. You can use your hands in the final moments of mixing to get the size crumbs you desire. They will be varied in size – which is great, but you want a portion of them to be about the size of a penny.

Bake at 350* until golden brown around the edges – about 12-15 minutes. If you oven is uneven check on them after 10 minutes of baking and carefully move them around as you would if you were toasting nuts, as the crumbs on the outside tend to get darker faster.

Let cool and store in an airtight container for up to one week.

5654698822_c05bdf17b0_b

Roasted Rhubarb

2 lbs Rhubarb, cut in 1/2 inch chunks

1/2 cup dark brown sugar (or more depending on desired sweetness)

zest from 1/2 orange (optional)

3 tbl butter

On a parchment lined baking sheet combine all the ingredients except the butter. Dot the top of the fruit with 1/2 inch chunks of butter. Bake in a pre-heated 350°F degrees oven for about 20-30 minutes (until juices are bubbling and the rhubarb is cooked through).

5654124927_131ba4d5f6_b

Muscovado Semifreddo

serves 8-10, depending on how you slice it

A semifreddo is essentially a frozen mousse. This recipe requires the use of several bowls but I assure you the extra cleaning time will be completely worth it.

Due to the moisture content in the sugar it tends to clump easily. Make sure to break up any visible clumps before adding to the yolks.

1 ⅓ cups heavy cream

½ cup muscovado sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

1 vanilla bean, seeds removed (optional)

3 eggs, separated

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

Lightly spray a loaf pan with pan spray. Cover the inside with plastic wrap. Set aside.

In a very clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment add the egg whites. Whip until frothy. At that point add the cream of tartar and whisk until medium-stiff peaks form.

Carefully put the whites in another bowl. Wipe clean.

Next add the yolks and the muscovado sugar to your mixer bowl. Make sure the sugar is free of large clumps. Add the salt, vanilla and vanilla seeds, if using. Whisk until double in volume.

Remove this mixture from the mixer and place in another bowl.

Wipe out the bowl of the stand mixer one last time and whip the cream until medium peaks form.  Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold the whipped yolks into the cream. Once completely combined add ⅓ of the whites. Fold in to lighten the mixture.  Then fold in the rest of the whites until completely mixed. Take care with folding as you don’t want to loose any of the volume you worked so hard to get.  Place the mixture in the prepared loaf pan. Cover with more plastic wrap on the surface of the semifreddo. Freeze for at least 4 hours.

Remove from the freezer, slice and serve with roasted rhubarb and vanilla bean shortbread crumbles.

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28 Responses to “Muscovado semifreddo, roasted rhubarb, shortbread crumbles”

  1. Elizabeth

    You’ve certainly can find the community you seek online, especially with posts like this. This looks lovely. I adore rhubarb, but I certainly haven’t given it the attention it deserves this spring. Your writing is beautiful, and semifreddo looks divine. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  2. My Little Expat Kitchen

    You are so right about what one can accomplish with the help of friends and the inspiration they give you.
    I’ve never made semifreddo before. I love the taste of muscovado sugar so this sounds just perfect to try.
    Magda

    Reply
  3. Sis

    I will most certainly be giving this a try. I’m kind of embarrassed to admit, I’ve never even tasted rhubarb. You make it sound like rhubarb and I would be best friends.

    Reply
  4. Molly

    I think the thing I love most about these recipes is that they can each be extraordinary and special on their own. Absolute perfection.

    Reply
  5. heather

    ohmygoodness – i want this right this second! maybe i can hold out & make it for my special mama for mother’s day :o)

    this post is peppered with your usual openness & vulnerability. community is so crucial, and i loved the progression from the honesty of the sometimes lack of community to your connection with julie. and we all totally win with what your dreaming & scheming & chatting birthed! thank you, ashley! you are such a great writer, and i am totally blessed by your writing, cooking & creativity.

    Reply
  6. SeattleDee

    What a lovely post – the birth of a recipe and your shared musings on community and connection. Now if I only knew what makes muscovado sugar different from any other….

    Reply
  7. bianca

    A strong community with which to share ideas and inspiration is key to a fulfilled life. I, like you, count myself lucky to have such a wonderful legion of friends and supporters.

    Lovely recipes and photos, perfect for the summer that is sure to debut soon!

    Reply
  8. Haley

    Not sure if I’m the only one, but the last 2 times I’ve gotten your posts emailed to me there is a fuzzy black area along the left side of the page…like maybe there is an ad on top of your text that is running along side the pictures. When I come to your site it’s fine but the last 2 emails have had it. Just FYI in case others are having this problem.

    Reply
  9. Connie

    How I do love rhubarb season. And its great to see a semifreddo, which has somehow eluded me for a few years!

    Reply
  10. Dana

    Yes please and yes please some more. Next time you guys are brainstorming on desserts, can you please call me over to taste? Gorgeous shots, Ashley.

    Reply
  11. Allie

    This was soooo delicious in your class last week. Since my Mom wasn’t able to make it, she’s having Lisa and I re-do the class for her. We’ll see how it goes:)

    Reply
  12. snippets of thyme

    I just discovered rhubarb! I posted an article a few days ago on a the poached rhubarb with sabayon cream from Martha Stewart’s April issue. I love it now but unfortunately, its not easy to find in the South.

    Reply
  13. travis

    I’ve only ever had rhubarb in pies, but this looks very intriguing. Might have to try this out… Thanks!

    Reply
  14. Anne Marie

    I am a little late to this post and VERY late to your blog. I found you through the Saveur awards trying to check out blogs that I had not read yet. May I tell you that you had me first with the very picture and absolutely fabulous and unique dessert idea. However, your post really spoke to me on a personal note. I am at home with my two little ones, alone even though many of my closest friends live nearby and it is lonely, no matter how wonderful. Also trying to carve out a new career after just finishing my PhD and just started my own food blog a couple of months ago. So fun. I cannot wait to explore more of your site. (Sorry, I am realizing I should have just sent you an email with all of this.) Good luck with the awards.

    Reply
  15. Ashley B

    Hi! Just found your blog, it’s great. I had a question about the rhubarb, can I roast it ahead and serve it cold, or should it be warm when served with the semifreddo?

    Reply
    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Ashley – So glad you found it. Great name by the way. ;) You can definitely serve it cold or gently rewarm it before serving. I do like the cold semifreddo with the warm rhubarb but either way it is delicious.

      Reply

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