Food + Drink

From the Chronicle Kitchen
Farmers’ Market Desserts

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As we were planning the launch party for Farmers’ Market Desserts, Jennifer Millar, owner of Sweet Adeline Bakeshop, asked whether I’d like to come up with a beverage to serve with the many desserts she planned to make from the book. Spring was in the air and the farmers’ markets were bursting with options. Desserts for the event—all made from recipes in the book—included Easy Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes, Strawberries & Cream Cake Roll, Orange Cupcakes with White Chocolate-Orange Buttercream, Mixed Berry Pavlovettes with Lemon-Lime Cream, and these Rhubarb, Blueberry & Cream Parfaits.

With so much juicy red fruit, I worked up an iced hibiscus tea for the party, infusing mint and lemon balm from my garden along with the hibiscus flowers for a refreshing summer cooler. The guests enjoyed it so much that Jennifer added it to the bakeshop’s summer menu. When she made the parfaits again the following day, they virtually flew out the door. Sporting red, white, and blue, they are the perfect dessert for Fourth of July and other summertime celebrations.

Back home, the cherry-red cooler has become our “house beverage” for summer gatherings. For extra punch, add gin and Cointreau and serve on the rocks.

Summer Hibiscus Cooler

Makes 10 cups

3/4 cup mild-flavored honey
1 1/3 cups dried hibiscus flowers (organic or unsprayed)
1/2 cup (gently packed) fresh spearmint leaves, coarsely chopped, plus 10 to 20 small mint sprigs, or 10 larger mint leaves, rolled and cut crosswise into chiffonade, for garnish
1/2 cup (gently packed) fresh lemon verbena or lemon balm leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh lime juice

Bring the honey and 4 cups of water to a simmer in a nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, stirring to completely dissolve the honey. Remove from the heat and stir in the hibiscus, mint, and lemon verbena. Let steep for 20 minutes. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a pitcher. (Set aside the hibiscus flowers.) Stir the lime juice and 6 cups of cold water into the pitcher until well mixed. Add ice and stir until very cold, or refrigerate until cold or up to 2 days ahead.

Serve the punch over ice in tall, narrow glasses. Garnish each glass with a couple of the hibiscus flowers from the strainer and a small mint sprig or a bit mint chiffonade.

Rhubarb, Blueberry & Cream Parfait

This is the perfect red, white, and blueberry dessert to celebrate the Fourth of July, or the entire blueberry-rhubarb season, which runs from about May to July. Depending on your location, Independence Day should hit close to the end of the blueberry season, just in time for a final celebration of that bright berry’s bursting fireworks of flavor.

The crunchy topping is a great complement to the smooth cream and rhubarb. It is also a delicious topping for ice cream and fresh fruit. Alternatively, you can use granola or crumble your favorite gingersnaps over the parfaits. The crunchy topping and rhubarb can be prepared in advance for a quick-fix dessert.

Season to Taste: Substitute strawberries or raspberries for the rhubarb, reducing the sugar to 1/4 cup. Or, substitute blackberries or olallieberries for the blueberries.

Makes 4 servings

Rhubarb Sauce
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 pound rhubarb (about 4 medium to large stalks), leaves discarded and stalks cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Small pinch of kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

Crunch Topping
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup gently packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 pint (2 cups) blueberries

1. To make the sauce, stir together the sugar and water in a nonreactive saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the rhubarb and stir to coat with the sugar syrup. Reduce the heat to a slow simmer, cover, and cook until the fruit is quite soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Process until smooth using an immersion blender or standard blender, or mash and stir with a fork. Stir in the salt and lime juice, then taste and adjust with sugar or lime, if needed. (It will taste sweeter chilled than hot.) Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate in a covered container until cold, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

2. To make the topping, stir together the flour, oats, brown sugar, ginger, and salt in a bowl. Sprinkle the vanilla evenly over the mixture, then scatter the butter over the mixture. Using your fingertips, rub in the butter until the mixture looks like wet, clumpy sand. Scatter the almonds over the top and mix them in with your fingers. Cover and refrigerate the topping for 30 minutes.

3. While the topping chills, preheat the oven to 375oF, with a rack near the center. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

4. Use your fingers to crumble the topping mixture onto the baking sheet. It should look roughly like granola, with a few larger clumps. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring and turning with a spatula once or twice during baking. Let cool completely before using. (It will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.)

5. Using a chilled bowl and beaters, whip together the cream, crème fraîche, and sugar until the mixture holds medium-firm peaks.

6. Layer the cream, rhubarb, crunch topping, and berries in four parfait glasses. As a guide—without worrying about using exact quantities—divide one-third of the cream among the four glasses. Layer half of the rhubarb sauce over the cream. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of the topping into each glass. Then, sprinkle one-third of the berries over the topping in the four glasses. Repeat the layers, using half of the remaining cream, all of the remaining rhubarb, about 1 tablespoon of crunch topping for each glass, and half of the remaining berries. Top the parfaits evenly with the remaining cream, and then sprinkle evenly with the remaining berries. Finally, sprinkle lightly with some crunch topping. (You will have some crunch topping remaining.)

7. Serve immediately, or cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. The crunch will soften but will still add great flavor and texture.

Jennie Schacht
Author of Farmers’ Market Desserts

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7 Comments

  • Grace June 17, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Would Love to win this because I love farmers markets, and also plan to learn how to bake! Thanks.

    Reply

  • April June 17, 2010 at 10:40 am

    I’m not sure where I can get dried hibiscus flowers (Berkeley Bowl or Rainbow Grocery perhaps?) but that cooler sounds deliciously AMAZING. Especially with the extra punchy twist 😉

    Reply

  • sharon June 17, 2010 at 11:07 am

    ooh, this would be great, we frequent farmer’s markets…love the cooler and parfait recipes!!

    Reply

  • janet June 17, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Pick me, pick me! I will make some desserts and post them on our food blog for sure. Buying local is so critical to all our futures….

    Reply

  • Jennie Schacht June 17, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Hi Sharon,
    I bought my hibiscus in bulk at Berkeley Bowl West, and I’m sure they also have it at the other one, or Whole Foods, and other places selling bulk herbs and such. I’ve also bought gorgeous Egyptian hibiscus at the natural foods store in Mendocino, upstairs with the bulk herbs. The flowers are a beautiful bright red and have an especially clean flavor, with hints of cranberry and cherry. (sounds like a wine review!) The punch is simple to make and will be lovely with whatever hibiscus you use.
    Enjoy!
    Jennie

    Reply

  • jennifer young June 18, 2010 at 10:13 am

    my mouth is watering! i’d love to win a copy and bake away! thanks for a chance to win!!!
    j.

    Reply

  • Jennifer Lies June 23, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Congrats Grace—you win a copy of Farmers’ Market Desserts!

    Reply

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