One of the surest and most delicious signs that spring has arrived is the appearance of fresh rhubarb (AKA “pie plant”) at my local farmers’ market. Whether greenish skinned and skinny or fat and ruby-colored, this vegetable is equally at home in the savory kitchen and the sweet kitchen. And with its appearance, my thoughts turn to matcha: that spring-like, verdant pleasure in an earthen cup. Though satisfying as a hot drink when well-sourced and properly foamed, matcha moves easily from the tea cup to the parfait glass. Putting the two ingredients together, I have concocted a dessert that marries the slight astringency of the tea with the only barely-sweetened, almost vegetal flavor of the rhubarb. Ribbons of pale green mousse and pinkish cubes of cooked rhubarb are spooned in layers in a glass. This dessert would make an apt ending for a dinner of fresh salmon, spring peas, and if you can find them, pea tendrils, lightly sautéed in fruity olive oil.
For the Mousse:
2 tablespoons of cold water
1 teaspoon matcha powder
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup milk
For the rhubarb:
Sprinkle gelatin powder over 7 teaspoons of cold water, stir and let soften.
Combine matcha powder and sugar in a bowl. Now heat milk to boiling. Whisk boiled milk slowly into the matcha and sugar mixture.
Heat softened gelatin for 15 seconds in the microwave, then stir in matcha, sugar, and milk mixture. Strain and let cool.
Using a whisk, beat heavy cream to soft peaks, then fold into matcha mixture.
Cook the rhubarb with a small amount of sugar (don’t oversweeten it) and allow to cool. (The goal here is to cook the rhubarb briefly—for perhaps 2 or 3 minutes–so that it retains its shape; if overcooked, it will become too soft and disintegrate.
Layer the mousse into plain glasses alternating with some of the cooked rhubarb, and then divide the remaining rhubarb to top each glass. Finish each off with a scattering of Streusel made as follows:
Mix either with a pastry blender or in a food processor, just until the mixture becomes a pebbly texture. Bake on a sheet pan in a preheated 350 degree F. oven until lightly browned. Allow to cool and then use.