Baked rhubarb with vanilla meringues

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Rhubarb is the flavour of the month, it seems. Our family are rhubarb lovers, and I often poach it with raspberries for us to put on our morning meusli or yoghurt. It tends to turn schmooshy, which doesn’t matter for breakfast, but I wanted to try roasting it in the oven to see if I could get gorgeously tender rhubarb that held its shape for a dessert recipe. It worked wonderfully well, and I think I’ll be doing it this way more often. Everything about the combination of meringue and vanilla yoghurt cream with rhubarb works for me. Still a little tart, the rhubarb is a great foil for the sweet meringues. The colours are pretty and delicate and as a dessert it is satisfying wihthout being too rich. All of the elements in this dessert can be made ahead of time so it is a great dinner party dessert. Think also of Sunday lunch with family and friends, or dinner with someone special and go make it.

Serves 6

500g trimmed rhubarb, cut into short lengths
1/2 cup caster sugar
juice of 1/2 a lemon
250 ml (1 cup) cream
250 ml (1 cup) greek yoghurt
2 teaspoons vanilla paste
2 egg whites
2/3 cup caster sugar
pinch salt

First, roast the rhubarb. Preheat oven to 180 C. Put the rhubarb in a single layer in a glass or ceramic oven-proof dish. Sprinkle with the sugar and squeeze over the lemon juice. Cover with aluminium foil and roast for 15 minutes. Take out of the oven and if the rhubarb is soft and the liquid quite syrupy, then take out of the oven. Otherwise, return to the oven for a couple more minutes. Leave to cool to room temperature.

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Turn the oven down to 120 C. In a clean bowl beat the egg whites and the salt until they become frothy and then keep beating while gradually adding the sugar. Beat until the meringue is glossy white and the sugar dissolved. Stir through 1 teaspoon of the vanilla paste and then pile spoonfuls onto a baking tray lined with silicon paper to make 6 meringues. Bake in the oven for 1 hour and then turn off the heat and leave them to cool in the oven. You can easily make the meringues a day in advance as long as the weather is not too humid and you store them in an air tight container.

To make the yoghurt cream, beat the cream in a bowl until soft peaks form. Stir in the yoghurt and 1 teaspoon vanilla paste until well combined. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate for about 1 hour. This yoghurt cream is just great with any poached fruit and it is a slightly lighter alternative to whipped cream. You can make this several hours in advance, too.

When you are ready to serve place the meringues on dessert plates, spoon over a generous blob of yoghurt cream and top with the rhubarb. I like to spoon the juices around the meringue so that they are floating in a sea of tart/sweet pinkness.

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