The most popular photographs I have posted on Instagram have almost invariably depicted Ottolenghi recipes, or variations on Ottolenghi recipes. The one exception is the photo that appears on the home page for this blog–pieces of a Meyer lemon tart trimmed with rhubarb roses and sugared mint leaves. I was actually a bit surprised at the positive reaction to the photo, since the lemon tart itself was highly imperfect. But it seems people really like rhubarb roses. I can’t fault them, since I’m a bit obsessed myself: Rhubarb roses are whimsical, adorable, and delicious.
And while they’re a bit fiddly and time-consuming, they’re not difficult to make. Basically, you take thin strips of rhubarb, trim them into elongated “petal” shapes, soak the “petals” in warm sugar syrup for a few minutes, heat them in in a low oven for 10 minutes, roll the petals into roses, then return the little roses to the oven to dry out. No fancy ingredients or special equipment needed!
A delicious edible garnish for tarts, cakes, or whatever your heart desires! This recipe makes approximately 25-30 rosettes.
- 4 stalks rhubarb leaves removed, ends trimmed
Rhubarb Simple Syrup
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- rhubarb trimmings optional
Pre-heat the oven to 225 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cut each rhubarb stalk into three equal pieces. Place each rhubarb stalk piece, flat on a cutting board. Using a Swiss vegetable peeler, peel off thin strips of rhubarb from each piece.
Use kitchen shears to trim each rhubarb strip into an elongated scallop or half-moon shape. These will be the "petals" for the roses. Set aside. Reserve trimmings.
To make the simple syrup, combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan. If you wish, you can also add the trimmed rhubarb ends (NOT the leaves) and/or a few of the trimmings left over from creating the rhubarb "petals." Heat over medium low heat until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup begins to simmer. Allow it to simmer for a minute or so, then turn off the heat.
Soak the rhubarb "petals" in the warm simple syrup for 5 minutes. Then, transfer the softened, syrup-coated petals to the parchment-lined baking sheets, laying them flat.
Place baking sheets in oven for about 10 minutes--this allows the rhubarb strips to soften further and dry out a bit.
Remove the rhubarb petals from oven. Quickly and carefully, roll the petals into rosettes: take one petal and roll it up, then continue rolling the rosette with another petal slightly overlapping with the first, then with a third petal. (If you want bigger rhubarb roses, add more petals.)
When you finish shaping each rhubarb rose, return it to the parchment-lined baking sheet. (You may want to nest the rhubarb roses against the side of the baking sheet, to help keep the petals in each rose stuck together as they dry out in the oven.) Return the rhubarb roses to the oven for about 50 minutes or until dry to the touch.
Remove from oven and transfer to plate to cool.
- This recipe makes approximately 25-30 rhubarb roses, depending on how big you want your roses to be.
- The simple syrup can be made of just sugar and water, but the rhubarb trimmings add a pretty light pink hue. After you have soaked the rhubarb petals, you can strain and reserve the rhubarb simple syrup to make rhubarb-flavored cocktails.
- You will not be able to use up all of each rhubarb stalk to make the petals -- at a certain point, it just won't be possible to peel any more strips. Some of the trimmings can be used to flavor the syrup, but you'll have more than you need for that. Reserve the others and use them to make a rhubarb puree (swirl into Greek yoghurt!) or rhubarb curd.
- Rhubarb leaves are poisonous. If your rhubarb stalks have leaves - cut the leaves off and throw them out. Do NOT use in the syrup or for anything else.
- Be careful when peeling the rhubarb strips for the petals--keep your fingers out of the way of the peeler!
- I specify baking the rhubarb petals for ten minutes before rolling into rosettes--this helps the rose "petals" stick together and reduces the time they will ultimately need to spend in the oven to dry out. However, the petals will be quite hot after 10 minutes in the oven, so use caution. I have developed what Nigella Lawson refers to as "asbestos hands," but if you're more sensitive, you may want to allow the petals to cool a couple of minutes before proceeding. Alternatively, depending on how soft and sticky your rhubarb strips are after soaking in the syrup, you may be able to shape the roses immediately after soaking, before they go in the oven. If you go this route, the roses may need a bit longer in the oven to dry out.