There’s a magical couple of weeks in June when both rhubarb and strawberry are in season, which allows for an infinite number of delicious, sweet and tart combinations. Rhubarb and strawberry is indeed a match made in heaven, and I remember my Mom making puddings using our own rhubarb, which grew in the backyard, and strawberries that we sometimes picked up ourselves in one of the numerous pick-your-own fields surrounding Quebec City. I remember that it took only minutes for my Mom to assemble her puddings, but they were endlessly delicious and satisfying. This year, I longed to recover that comforting taste. It’s not rocket science, really, but sometimes, classic flavors just hit the spot.
My variation is based on a Gourmet recipe, which I decided to turn into individual portions. I infused the rhubarb and strawberries with maple sugar, which adds a lovely dimension to the dish, one that marries perfectly with the crunchy pecan topping. Some will say that a spoonful of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream makes this dessert even better, but I say it’s just heavenly as is.
Makes 6 individual cakes
¼ cup [60 ml] water
1½ tsp [7.25 ml] cornstarch
1/3 cup [80 ml] maple sugar (or regular sugar)
2 cups [500 ml] chopped fresh rhubarb stalks
1 cup [250 ml] chopped fresh strawberries
1 cup [250 ml] all-purpose flour
1¾ tsp [8.75 ml] baking powder
½ tsp [2.5 ml] salt
½ cup [125 ml] sugar
1 large egg
½ cup [125 ml] whole milk, or other dairy free milk of your choice
1 stick (½ cup [125 ml]) unsalted butter or dairy free buttery spread, melted and cooled
1 tsp [5 ml] pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup [80 ml] chopped pecan nuts
Maple sugar, to sprinkle (optional)
Place oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F [200°C]. Grease 6 1-cup [250 ml] capacity ramekins and set on a baking sheet.
Stir together water, cornstarch, and maple sugar in a small saucepan, then stir in rhubarb. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, then simmer, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the strawberries.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a bowl.
Whisk together egg, whole or dairy free milk, melted butter or dairy free spread, and vanilla in a large bowl, then whisk in flour mixture until just combined. (Batter will be thick).
Reserve ½ cup [125 ml] fruit mixture, then divide remaining mixture between the ramekins. Divide the batter between the ramekins, then drizzle a spoonful of the remaining fruit mixture over each portion. Sprinkle with maple sugar, if desired, then bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center of each cake portion come out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on a rack 5 minutes before serving.
Note: This recipe makes plenty of fruit mixture and batter, so if you’re making 6 portions, chances are your ramekins will overflow a little, just like mine did. I like it that way, but you could very well make a 7th portion instead. You can also bake the pudding in a single 8-inch [23-cm] square baking pan, increasing the cooking time to 25 to 30 minutes.