On this summer solstice afternoon, light pours in through the window. The scent of peonies wafts toward me from big garden blooms in shades of pink and white.
Each summer solstice, S and I also celebrate our wedding anniversary. We usually do this by preparing an elaborate meal we've never cooked before.
This year, we're thinking of something a little simpler since we're so busy, with ingredients we have on hand. We want it to be something we can cook on our fire pit down by the river so we can enjoy every bit of daylight on this longest day of the year.
We'll probably just make some tacos with grilled skirt steak we had stashed in the freezer along with some greens, onions, radishes and cilantro from the garden. We'll pop open a jar of tomatillo salsa from last year, too.
Each year we also treat ourselves to a fancy restaurant meal another night of the week. This year, we had a magical evening at the Lost Kitchen in Freedom Maine. Erin's food was thoughtful and delicate; the ambiance warm and convivial. What a treat.
For dessert this evening, I decided to do something a little fancier since I knew dinner would be simple. I wanted to use rhubarb since we have too much of it in the garden right now. And I wanted something I could make ahead then forget about.
While we've made tacos countless times, we've never made these little rhubarb cakes, so we haven't broken with tradition. Sweet, tart, cool, creamy -- I think they'll make the perfect solstice treat.
Mini Rhubarb Cakes
Recipe inspired by Sprinkle Bakes
Almond shortbread crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large egg yolks
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
Lemon-almond yogurt mousse:
1 sheet gelatin
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
Zest and juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 bunch rhubarb, ends trimmed
For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Wrap the bottom of each of four 3.5-inch ring molds with tin foil and place on a baking sheet.
Whisk the all-purpose flour, almond flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub into the flour mixture with your fingers, leaving some pea-sized pieces of butter.
Whisk together the yolks with 1 tablespoon cold water in a small bowl. Add the yolk mixture to the dough and mix to combine. Knead a few times in the bowl to bring the dough together, then turn out and knead a few more times. The dough should be sticky.
Divid the dough into 6 pieces. Press a piece of dough into each of the prepared ring molds. Shape the remaining 2 pieces of dough into large rectangles (to make shortbread cookies with the extra dough) and place on the baking sheet alongside the ring molds. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.
Bake until golden brown, about 40 minutes. Let cool.
For the mousse: Place the gelatin in a bowl with ice water and set aside until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes.
Bring 1/2 cup water to a simmer in a small saucepan. Turn off the heat. Remove the gelatin from the bowl and squeeze out the excess water. Add the gelatin to the warm water and stir to dissolve. Let cool to room temperature.
Add the yogurt and powdered sugar to a large bowl; whisk to combine. Whisk in the lemon zest, juice and almond extract.
In another bowl, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the yogurt mixture.
Divide the mousse among the 4 pastry rings. Freeze until firm, about 2 hours.
For the rhubarb wrap: Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set aside.
Using a mandolin or vegetable peeler, slice the rhubarb into paper thin strips.
Place the sugar in a saucepan along with 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer and stir until sugar dissolves.
Dip the rhubarb strips into the simmering water until soft, about 30 seconds. Reserve the rhubarb-infused syrup for cocktails or pancakes.
To assemble: Unmold the chilled cakes.
Lay some rhubarb strips on top of the cakes, pressing gently to attach. Trim the edges. Wrap a strip around the top of the sides, covering any overhang. Continue to wrap strips down the sides. Brush the cake all over with a little of the reserved syrup.
Refrigerate until thawed.