Jelly is not the only dessert that can be described as “wobbly” and the above is the best example. Even though I am not a fan of standard, well set, thick jelly, I have literally fallen in love with this light, barely set dessert I decided to call Wobbly Rhubarb Delight. Its unusual, “falling-off-the spoon” consistency was achieved thanks to a reduced amount of agar (see below), just like in my previous experiments with this gelling agent.
For those who haven’t read about my recent adventures with this product, agar (agar-agar, “kanten” in Japanese) is a gelling agent very popular in Asia, but it is not a gelatin substitute. It is prepared in a slightly different way and, most of all, gives different textures and consistencies. In Europe it is widely used in food industry and is quite popular among vegetarians, since agar is produced from seaweed (not bones, like gelatin). Apart from its gelling properties, agar has considerable health benefits. It helps digestion and is often consumed as a slimming diet booster. A Japanese friend has confirmed what I had already read about: in her country some women dissolve it in tea to help digestion and to suppress appetite (I haven’t checked if it works on my appetite though).
In short, not only this dessert is delicious, light and refreshing, but it is healthy too. To prepare it I used the Soft Rhubarb Drink I wrote about recently (see the recipe here) and then simply proceeded like with my other agar desserts, i.e. adding less agar than advised on all the packages and in all recipes in order to obtain a looser consistency. After two hours in the fridge I obtained an amazingly refreshing, elegant, tangy and sweet treat, with a subtle rhubarb aroma. Apart from ending a meal, it could be served as a palate cleanser or even a cooling drink substitute (it is an excellent thirst quencher).
The below recipe includes the Soft Rhubarb Drink preparation, so if you already have it, skip the first, rhubarb cooking, stage and simply measure 500 ml (2 cups and 2 tablespoons) to use in this recipe.
In case you are interested in other desserts using agar, until now I have written about:
TIPS: Look closely at your agar package instructions. On mine 1/2 teaspoon is said to set 500 ml/2 cups liquid to a jelly. I use only 1/3 teaspoon and obtain a wobbly, “falling off the spoon” consistency. If you prefer a well-set jelly, use the amount advised on the package.
Since water evaporates during the first (rhubarb cooking) stage and rhubarb absorbs some water too, it is difficult to say how much liquid you will obtain. You need only 500 ml (about 2 cups) for the recipe (at least for the below amount of agar), so simply measure it and drink the rest!
I like very tangy desserts, so I have added only 1 heaped teaspoon sugar per portion, but feel free to double or triple it before the setting process, gradually tasting the result (a certain tanginess should remain, otherwise it will turn into a bland, tasteless dessert).
TIPS: Rhubarb leaves are poisonous, so before you start cooking it, cut off and throw away every single trace of leaves, sometimes left on the stalks.
Do not wait until the liquid becomes cold before pouring it into serving glasses because agar sets at room temperature and once disturbed, it will not reset properly!
Preparation: 1 hour+2 hours in the fridge
Ingredients (yields 4-5 portions):
250 g (8.8 oz) rhubarb stalks
700 ml (almost 3 cups) water
4 or more heaped teaspoons sugar (a sweetener can be used too)
1/3 teaspoon agar in powder
Cut up the rhubarb and put it into a big pan with water.
Bring to boil at medium heat and cook until the rhubarb completely softens (starts falling into pieces).
Put aside and wait until the rhubarb drink cools down.
Measure 500 ml (about 2 cups) of the liquid (the rest can be put into the fridge and used as a soft drink).
Add the sugar gradually, increasing its amount to suit your taste and the rhubarb’s acidity (some rhubarb varieties are less acid).
Pour it into a pan, add the agar and stir to dissolve both agar and sugar.
Bring to boil, stirring, lower the temperature and let it simmer for about 1 minute constantly stirring.
Transfer into serving glasses or bowls and when the dessert has cooled down, refrigerate for two hours.
It can be served with whipped cream if you like it.