Look for a larger garden update a little later next week!
I've been anxious to see how well our rhubarb would do this year and the plants apparently love their sunny little home and are shooting out stalks left and right! Now we just need to keep up and crank out some recipes to put it to work, which we did today with this Rhubarb Frozen Yogurt Torte!
After pulling out a few stalks and slicing them up this morning, we tossed them into a pot with water and sugar. You want to cook this combo until all of the rhubarb pieces have lost their crispness and have softened. Once the rhubarb was ready, we added a touch of bloomed gelatin into the hot mixture. Use of gelatin will help set the torte, along with adding a smoother texture - however, you must dissolve the granules before you want to use it. Once it has dissolved and sat around for a few minutes, it will have absorbed all of the liquid and look like a spongy and firm mess. If you've never worked with it before, it may look ruined, but that is just the process to get it ready - now you'll be able to add it into the hot rhubarb liquid where it will instantly melt and vanish.
After letting it cool slightly, it went into the food processor to break down the rhubarb into a smooth, crimson puree. Stop and check every so often, scraping down the sides if need be, to make sure you get all the pieces worked in. A few cups of vanilla yogurt are tossed in to be whirled into the puree, then the whole shebang is poured into an ice cream maker to freeze. I thought using only a half cup of sugar to 4 full cups of rhubarb was a little on the light-handed side, but with that sweet vanilla yogurt added, a quick taste revealed this was definitely on the right track and needed nothing more.
While that zipped around in the ice cream maker, we covered the bottom of a springform pan with ground graham crackers. The original recipe actually called for crisp amaretti cookies (Italian macaroons), but I didn't feel like running to the market and a trip through the pantry left me with the choice of graham crackers or well, graham crackers! It didn't call for any binder with the cookies, so I just added them as is, but that was probably an error on my part... we'll get to that in a bit. As soon as the ice cream maker beeped, we poured the thickened frozen yogurt (minus a few spoonfuls from tasting - I couldn't help it!) over the graham crackers and worked at the top with an off-set spatula so we would end up with a smooth surface. Just remember, this is going to need at least a good two to three hour stint in the freezer to firm up before you go to serve it.
To help the side of the pan release from the frozen yogurt, wrap a towel (that had first been soaked in hot water) around the pan and hold it there for just a few seconds. That will have melted the edge just enough so you can cleanly pull the side off. At this point, the torte is fairly hard and would be awful to slice - leave it at room temperature until it has softened enough that a knife can glide through without needing to be warmed up, about 10 or 15 minutes is good enough. While we waited, we hulled a pound of fresh strawberries and tossed them with just a couple tablespoons of sugar to get their juices flowin'.
Back to that crust issue... I apparently wasn't thinking that much when I replaced the crushed cookies with the graham crumbs - the amaretti themselves would probably have a little more moisture to them, which would help them hold together. However, I thought maybe the graham crackers would soak in some of the frozen yogurt and magically take hold - that didn't happen so much! When I went to pull out the wedges I sliced, a fair amount of the crumbs were still loose and stayed behind. Oh well, I ended up spooning some of it onto the plates, while holding back the rest to sprinkle over the top right before we served it - I wasn't going to waste them!
With a spoonful of the juicy strawberries gracefully draped over the top, the first forkful left my taste buds jumping with its gentle tart attitude, yet not so much that my mouth was puckering in confusion. The texture is a little on the icy side, so don't expect the texture of this to be the same lusciousness you would find in a custard-base ice cream. Saying that, this frozen treat was fairly guilt-free, quite light and incredibly refreshing. The next time I make this, there is one change I think I would do. I would prepare the rhubarb mixture up to the point where we puree it with the yogurt, then stash it into the refrigerator to chill down before adding it to the ice cream maker. Whenever I make ice cream, I just find the base benefits from being very cold and won't stress the ice cream maker as much when processed.
Rhubarb Frozen Yogurt Torte