May 27, 2010
Rhubarb… it’s finally here. I’ve been drooling over all the gorgeous rhubarb desserts in your blogs and magazines since late April I guess, but it was only last weekend when I first saw rhubarb on the market. Of course I grabbed a large bunch of crunchy rhubarb stalks, and the next day we were already baking these tartelettes. Mom first came up with the idea of a rhubarb pie, but then we thought we’d try our new individual baking forms, so we decided on shortcrust tartelettes with rhubarb filling topped with soft meringue. This is actually a mini-version of the Raspberry Meringue Pie that we made last summer - my favourite pie ever. It’s super-versatile – you can use strawberries, blackberries or any other berries for the filling, or rhubarb, in our case. The tart rhubarb center hidden between a sweet shortcrust base and a sweet whipped meringue brings you a pleasant surprise. This is a fool-proof recipe; the hardest part is to prevent the cracks on top of meringue, which is achieved by first cooling the meringues in the oven with oven door open, and then gradually transferring them to a cooler place. I skipped this step because the sun was setting and I was in a hurry to take the photos. So, our tartelettes look pretty rustic with these cracks on top… but there’s certain charm in this, don’t you think?
The sad thing is that I don’t have that sweet tooth any longer, and while I really like the combination of sour/sweet flavours and soft/brittle textures in these tartelettes, I can’t have more than one at a time. You should know that ONE tartelette (cupcake, piece of cake, whatever sweet) used to be NOTHING for me. I could live on sweets for days. So I’m really surprised by this change and still can’t get used to it.
Another problem that seriously irritates me lately, is that there’s no decent street food in Riga. No take-away pizzas, no hot/grilled sandwiches, very poor choice of take-away drinks. I’m fed up with store-bought croissants and muesli bars, also because I’d prefer something savoury for lunch. It’s really a problem to have quick lunch in Riga, even if you work in the historical centre of the city, like I do. I recently discovered a place where you can have sushi or hot bento lunch in less than 15 minutes – that’s the only place in the Old Town which is fast, affordable and good-quality at the same time. Arghhh.
And, last but not least, I would like to say huge thanks to Barbara Rolek of Eastern European Food @ About.com, for listing our blog on her Eastern European blogroll. Check out Barbara’s latest Eastern European Beet Recipes!
Ground cinnamon (optional)
300g all-purpose flour
200g butter, lukewarm
3 egg yolks
A couple of spoons margarine
3 egg whites, chilled
6 tbsp sugar
Makes 12 tartelettes, 10cm in diameter each
Prepare the rhubarb in advance. Peel rhubarb stalks and cut them into thin slices. Place the rhubarb into a saucepan, add sugar, and stir. Wait until the sugar starts to dissolve (takes about 30 minutes), then bring to a boil (no water added here!). Remove from the heat as soon as the mix begins to boil, leave to infuse. Drain off the liquid (which makes a nice drink by the way). You will only need the rhubarb slices for the tartelettes.
Blend butter and sugar until pale. Add egg yolks, one by one, stirring continuously. Add flour and knead the dough until smooth. Be sure not to over-knead it, or your pastry will be chewy.
Refrigerate the dough for 20-30 minutes.
When the dough is ready, divide it into 12 balls and roll out each ball about 0.5-0.7 cm thin. Grease your baking forms with margarine. Place circles of dough into baking forms and press it gently to the sides. Poke the crust with a fork.
Bake for 10 minutes on a medium heat.
In the meantime, whisk egg whites with 6 tablespoons sugar.
Remove the tartelettes from the oven and put a spoonful of rhubarb into each. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon (optional). Top with a spoonful of whipped egg whites. Return to oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.
When the tartelettes are ready, let them sit in the oven with oven door open for half an hour, then let cool completely in room temperature.
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