Citronella Cream with Wild Strawberries and Dried Rhubarb
At Le Bristol, this elegant dessert comes to the table in tall stemmed glasses on gold-edged plates with gold doilies and edible gold foil garnish. All that is optional; the citronella cream laced with strawberry jam and covered with more strawberries is delicious with or without the tall glasses or gold. Citronella is another name for lemongrass. Note that the chef uses wild strawberries, which are tiny and intensely flavored. In the U.S., unless you know of a special strawberry patch, you'll have to shop for the smallest, sweetest berries you can find; the giant but often flavorless hothouse strawberries won't give enough flavor for this dessert.
- Dried Rhubarb
- Rhubarb Stalks - 1
- Confectioner's Sugar - Citronella Cream
- Citronella Cream
- Milk - 1-3/4 cups
- Citronella stalks - 10 ounces, cleaned and chopped
- Sugar - 1 cup minus1 tablespoon
- Egg Yolks - 7
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 2-2/3 cups
- Strawberry jam - 1-1/2 cups, preferably homemade, strained
- Wild Strawberries - 2 quarts, or other fine, small strawberries, hulled
- Confectioner's sugar for dusting
- Edible gold foil (optional)
To dry the rhubarb: Preheat the oven to 300 F. Trim the rhubarb, into two 5-inch stalks, leaving strips of red color along the edges. Shave lengthwise into 10 thin strips. Spread the strips on a baking sheet lined with a silicone liner and dust heavily with confectioner's sugar. Bake 3 hours, until glazed and dried. Set aside; let cool. Store in a plastic zip bag or other sealed container.
To prepare the cream: Bring the milk to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and add the chopped citronella. Let cool to room temperature; press plastic wrap on the surface and chill in the refrigerator overnight to infuse.
The next day, preheat the oven to 175 F (very low oven). Strain the milk, pressing down on the citronella to extract all the flavor. Whisk the sugar and egg yolks together until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Stir into the strained milk. Add the cream and whisk together gently. Pour the mixture into serving glasses, filling them just half way. Cover a rack with a silicone liner and place the rack in a baking pan filled half way with hot water, creating a bain marie. Do not let the water touch the liner. Place the glasses on the liner and place in the oven, leaving the door ajar. Bake 40 minutes, until the cream is set. Remove and let cool.
Roll an 8-inch circle of parchment paper into a cone and fill with strawberry jam. Snip the tip to create a small opening. Press the tip of the cone into the cream in one glass, extending it half way down and pressing it against the side of the glass. Squeeze a little jam out in a curved shape as you withdraw the cone, making a visible curve of jam. Make these curved jam fillings all around each glass, spacing the curves about 1 inch apart. Reserving 18 berries, stand strawberries, points up, around the top of each cream, ending with one in the center. Pipe jam in swirls over the strawberries. Place the reserved strawberries on a piece of paper toweling and dust with confectioner's sugar; place three on top of each dessert.
To serve: To duplicate the restaurant's presentation, place a small dessert plate inside a larger plate. Put a gold paper doily in the center of each dessert plate and place a glass with a dessert on each. Dab one end of each rhubarb stick with jam. Stand one rhubarb stick in each dessert, jam-end up, and lay another stick across the dessert. Dab edible gold foil on the jam on each rhubarb stick.