Delia’s Rhubarb and Ginger Brûlée Dairy-Free Style

May 17, 2010

Why shouldn’t we be able to partake in the fun?

Today I experimented with Delia’s Rhubarb Brûlée recipe from Waitrose.

For the uninitiated the Delia of whom I write is Delia Smith, England’s home cooking doyenne. In the UK, Delia is known only by her Christian name, a la Beyoncé, and has a legion of loyal followers. Legend has it that Delia taught England how to cook, including simple tasks such as boiling an egg. In the past few years Delia has taught home cooks how to cut corners with her Cheats book and television series. She is famous for the Delia effect – if she recommends something, English supermarkets sell out of the product within days. Recently, she has become the co-spokesperson for Waitrose’s latest foodie campaign with Heston Blumenthal of Fat Duck.

The first recipe of Waitrose’s new campaign was Delia’s rhubarb brûlée. True to form, Delia’s recipe soon caused a shortage of British rhubarb and Waitrose had to import stocks from Germany. In four days Waitrose sold 12 week’s worth of rhubarb. Tesco and other supermarkets also experienced the effect and thanked Waitrose for the extra sales.

I am a little dubious about this recipe being a brûlée because it doesn’t contain a custard or any eggs. The brûlée topping consists of cream, yogurt and demerara sugar. OK so technically it could be a burnt cream but it’s not custard like a true creme brûlée. Something that really bothers me about many yogurts in the UK is that WHIPPED CREAM is the main ingredient. I find that completely disgusting. Obviously Delia doesn’t. I can understand adding a little yogurt to your whipped cream to make it a little healthier in a dessert. But adding whipped cream to your healthy fruit yogurt to make it a little more atheriosclerosis-inducing is just gross. So I don’t mix yogurt with cream. It’s like eating a handful of M&Ms and pretending that a glass of water balances it all out. Anyway, I digress.

I bought a carton of Alpro soya vanilla custard and a pot of Alpro chilled single soya cream intending to mix them together as per the recipe. But I couldn’t bring myself to add cream to custard so just poured the custard over the baked rhubarb and ginger. As I suspected, being a runny custard and not a baked custard, the brûlée just melted and didn’t set into a crackly caramel top. But all was not lost – it was a rhubarb creme caramel! So not an abject failure as I feared. It was delicious but not the same as creme brûlée. Incidentally, I have successfully used Alpro products to make dairy-free baked custards and creme brûlées before and it doesn’t take much effort so will probably stick with that in the future. Nevertheless, the blend of rhubarb and stem ginger is scrummy and worth a try if you like ginger.

The original recipe is:


800g rhubarb
1 rounded dessertspoon Cooks’ Ingredients Organic Ground Ginger
2 pieces stem ginger, finely chopped
3 heaped tablespoons demerara sugar
200g Greek yogurt
300ml Waitrose Extra Thick Jersey Double Cream or essential Waitrose Extra Thick Double Cream

For the brûlée
175g demerara sugar

I used a heatproof oval dish measuring 23 x 15cm at the base


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. You need to begin this by trimming and chopping the rhubarb into 2.5cm chunks, then pile them into a bowl, add the sugar and the ground and chopped ginger and toss them all together. After that, transfer everything to the baking dish, pop it into the oven on the centre shelf and bake for 20 minutes. Then carefully stir the rhubarb, turning it over, and bake for another 10–15 minutes or until it’s tender.
  2. When it’s cooked, leave the rhubarb to get completely cold, then tip as much of the juice out by drawing the fruit back gently with a draining spoon and allowing the juice to drain from one end of the tilted dish.
  3. When you’re ready to do the brûlée, preheat the grill to its highest setting for 15 minutes. Now combine the yogurt and thick cream in a bowl, and spoon it evenly over the top, making sure it goes right up to the edges of the dish. Next spoon the sugar evenly over the cream right up to the edges, and when the grill is really hot, place the dish about 7.5cm from the heat, and just let the sugar melt, bubble and caramelise to a rich golden brown. This will take about 8 minutes, but you’ll need to keep an eye on it as it may need a bit more or less time.
  4. When it’s cooled and the caramel has set, you can cover with clingfilm and keep it in the fridge till needed (it can be made up to 8 hours in advance). To serve, tap the caramel with a spoon and serve just as it is – nothing else needed.

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