Beautiful, pink rhubarb is in season now and it’s tangy flavour pairs perfectly with sweet white chocolate. We tried baking it into blondies and oh yes, it works! There is some debate as to what blondies are, but to me, the best blondies are simply a white chocolate version of brownies. I’ve based this recipe on my classic vegan brownie recipe and it’s a fairly straight swap – brown chocolate for white chocolate – but the lack of cocoa powder means you must add some starch or the texture is all wrong. So don’t skip the cornstarch (you can replace cornstarch with arrowroot, potato or tapioca flour if you don’t have cornstarch).
Good blondie recipes call for browned butter, but if you are making this recipe vegan as I am below, then you’ll need to use Naturli butter as other vegan butters do not brown like dairy butter due to the lack of certain proteins and sugars. Naturli contains almond butter so has the right proteins to brown beautifully. Give it a try, I think you’ll agree it adds a delicious nutty, caramelised depth of flavour to the blondies that help to balance out the sweetness of the white chocolate. If you don’t have Naturli in the house you can just use another vegan butter or coconut oil and simply melt it rather than browning.
Pre-heat your oven to 180C and line a baking tin with baking parchment (I used a 20x28cm one).
If you have our vegan block of Naturli butter in, you can brown it to create a nutty, caramel depth of flavour. If you are using another brand of vegan butter then just melt the butter, it will not brown. To brown the butter simply melt in a small pan, keep it swirling/stirring until it goes a gorgeous hazelnut colour.
Then turn off the heat and tip in 200g of the white chocolate. Allow it to melt in the heat of the butter BEFORE stirring. Then add the sugar and milk and stir into a smooth, shiny caramel coloured sauce.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, salt, cornstarch, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Then pour in the melted butter, chocolate, sugar and milk and slowly whisk to just combine. Careful not to over-mix as that would activate the gluten in the flour and create tough blondies.
Pour the batter into the lined baking dish and smooth out so that the corners are evenly filled. Then scatter over the reserved white chocolate and chopped rhubarb.
Place the dish in the oven to bake until risen and golden. This should take around 30-35 minutes but ovens vary so check on it after 20 minutes. It is done when it is mostly set but still has a little wobble when gently shaken.
Allow the blondie to cool in the tray then pop the tray in the fridge to set for a few hours or overnight (this requires heroic patience). Cut into 12 pieces and enjoy!
A clafoutis is a classic French dessert, somewhere between a cake and a pudding. It’s normally made with cherries but here’s my seasonal twist with gorgeous, tangy rhubarb and flaked almonds. The other twist? This recipe is plant based and low food waste, the eggs are replaced with aquafaba which is the liquid from a can of chickpeas or white beans which is normally discarded. I love it served warm, scooped out of the dish into bowls with yoghurt or custard but it’s also delicious chilled and served in slices. Give it a try and let me know how you like it? And of course, switch the fruit for whatever you fancy. I even make a savoury version with asparagus or cherry tomatoes…the possibilities are endless!
Apart from the taste, the whole joy of this recipe is that it is very forgiving, hence the super-simple mug measurements. Some of my cakes require exact weights to work but this little beauty is a chilled out affair. Just grab a regular sized mug to weigh out your sugar and flour (not American style ‘cup’ measurements) and if you don’t have a measuring tbsp, just use a dessert spoon for the oil/milk. A few grams amiss here and there won’t affect the bake as it’s more of a pudding than a cake, so just trust your instincts and go for it. If you have a really big roasting dish or flan dish, use a big mug and enough rhubarb to cover the base in a single layer. And enjoy the easy, relaxed method!
1 tbsp butter/margarine
1 handful sugar
5 or so stalks of rhubarb
the liquid from a 400g can of chickpeas or white beans
a pinch of salt (omit if your aquafaba came from a salted tin)
3 tbsp oat milk (or more if needed)
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 handful flaked almonds (optional)
yoghurt or custard to serve
Preheat your oven to 175C. Find a large flan dish or medium roasting dish.
Butter the base of the dish then scatter over a handful of sugar.
Rinse and cut your rhubarb into bite sized chunks then arrange them in the dish.
Pour the aquafaba from a can of chickpeas or white beans into a large mixing bowl. Keep the beans/chickpeas in a box in the fridge to use later today or tomorrow.
Whisk the aquafaba until frothy, then add the 1/2 mug of caster sugar and whisk until creamy.
Fold in the plain flour and baking powder (if your aquafaba came from an unsalted tin, add a pinch of salt now too).
Stir in the milk, oil and vanilla. You should have a thick, creamy batter. If it’s too thick, add a splash more milk and stir again.
Pour the batter over the rhubarb and spread it evenly. Scatter over the handful of flaked almonds if using.
Bake in the oven until golden brown and just set. This should take approximately 20-30 minutes. The cake should still have some wobble and the rhubarb should be just cooked through and tender.
If you find it’s browning too much on top before being cooked through, move it to a lower part of your oven and cover the dish with a baking sheet or some baking parchment.
Serve warm in large scoops with a dollop of yoghurt or custard. Or allow it to chill and set – the texture will become less pudding-like and more cake-like as it cools. You can then slice it and serve it in wedges like a regular cake.
Feel free to play around with the recipe substituting seasonal fruit or frozen berries as you like. I even make a savoury version with asparagus or cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs and feta. Simply substitute the sugar for more flour and seasoning.