Rhubarb croutes with rosewater cream

Dessert: serves 6. Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
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Indy Lifestyle Online
The association with sugary Parma violets sends me back to childhood whenever I taste rose or orange flower water. They're very useful little bottles to have around, providing you add them much as you would a dab of perfume behind the ear. They are just that - a scent.

900g rhubarb
300g raspberry or strawberry jam
1 vanilla pod, slit open
300ml double cream
25g icing sugar, sieved
1 tbsp rosewater
unsalted butter
6 rounds of brioche
light muscovado or soft brown sugar

Heat the oven to 180 C (fan oven)/190 C (electric oven)/350 F/Gas 4. Trim the rhubarb and cut diagonally into 3cm lengths. Layer these in a gratin or other ovenproof dish with the jam, and tuck in the vanilla pod. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Gently stir to blend the jam in with the juices, then strain the rhubarb into a sieve, collecting the juice in a small saucepan below.

Add the vanilla pod back to the juices and cook until they reduce by half to a thick syrup. Pour this back over the rhubarb in the gratin dish and leave to cool. Check the sweetness and if you want add a little more sugar.

Whip the cream in a bowl with the icing sugar and rosewater. You can prepare everything to this point in advance.

To serve the dessert, heat the grill. Butter the brioche rounds on both sides (these can be cut from individual buns or a loaf) and sprinkle one side liberally with sugar. Grill sugared-side up until the edges are crisp and golden and the sugar's melted. Turn them over, sprinkle the other side with sugar and grill this side too. Place a croute on each plate and spoon the rhubarb and its juices over, and crown with a large dollop of cream.

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