Make Ahead

Rhubarb with Earl Grey Tea, Cardamom, and Orange Zest

April 26, 2010
5 Ratings
  • Serves 6 fairly indulgent servings
Author Notes

The last time I purchased rhubarb there was a fellow shopper eagerly inquiring as to how I prepared my rhubarb. She explained how the crimson stalks had always left her feeling baffled. During my prior purchase I was met by another shopper who explained how rhubarb had always intimidated her. She wanted to know what I did with mine.

I just assumed everyone knew what to do with rhubarb. I thought I was the last to embrace the crimson stalks. Not so. So this post is for all of you rhubarb virgins.

I am on a mission to spread the simplicity of fine (and simple) rhubarb preparation far and wide.

I've been especially inspired by Tara's tribute to rhubarb on Tea & Cookies, Molly's recent rhubarb post on Orangette, and by Ruth, my next door neighbor in Point Reyes Station, who spoke of her rhubarb plant so lovingly.

Sweet cool cream on warm chunks of rhubarb and apple infused with Earl Grey tea, cardamom, and orange...mmm. This recipe came after experimenting with several variations on this theme. I've decreased and increased the sweetness. Dark brown sugar was substituted for white and then white for dark. Vanilla was added and then subtracted. I tried a version with star anise and one with juniper berries before settling on Earl Grey tea, cardamom, and orange zest. This is, without a doubt, my favorite so far.

It is good cold too. I just checked. It thickens as it cools and I prefer the cooled texture (and color), but I would not give up that first warm taste with the cool melting ice cream. No no no. This is a big batch, eat it both ways.

Rhubarb atop pancakes with powdered sugar and a bit of lemon zest is another delicious serving suggestion. I'm sure this recipe would also be wonderful beside some fresh ricotta, served over oatmeal with a bit of cream, topping a bowl of Greek yogurt, or with shortcake and lightly sweetened whipped cream. So many possibilities. Let me know how you decide to serve yours.

I will continue to experiment. I hope you will be experimenting too. Don't be shy, rhubarb is very forgiving (and oh-so-tasty). - chez danisse —Denise

Test Kitchen Notes

Rhubarb and Earl Grey are a natural pairing, and one best left relatively unadorned. Chez danisse tosses tart chunks of rhubarb with pieces of apple, a little sugar, a pinch of cardamom, some Meyer lemon juice and some orange zest before adding the tea and gently softening everything in a 350 degree oven. The fruit mellows and grows tender without falling apart, and it emerges from the oven swimming in a subtle, tea-infused broth, which thickens into a light syrup as it cools. If you want this less juicy, cut back to 1/2 cup tea -- we liked the subtlety of these proportions, especially with the vanilla ice cream, which is a must. - A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 3 cups roughly chopped (1-inch pieces) rhubarb, from about 6 long thin ribs (just under 1 lb)
  • 3 cups roughly chopped (1-inch pieces) Braeburn apple, from 2 peeled apples
  • Juice of 1 small Meyer lemon
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons pure cane sugar
  • Seeds of one green cardamom pod crushed well with mortar and pestle
  • 2 bags of Earl Grey tea steeped in 3/4 cup just-boiled water for 3 minutes and then cooled
  • Zest of 2 Valencia oranges
  • Vanilla ice cream (!)
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place chopped rhubarb and apple in a medium casserole dish or oven-safe pot.
  3. Add remaining ingredients (retaining the zest of one orange and vanilla ice cream for later) and gently toss. I advise tasting one chunk of apple and one chunk of rhubarb at this stage. They will both be nicely sugar-coated and crisp.
  4. Bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Stir (it will smell so good). Bake an additional 15 minutes. Fruit should be tender and kitchen should smell even better than it did the first time you opened the oven door.
  5. And...that is it. You are done. Can you believe it's that easy?
  6. I let this batch cool slightly (5-10 minutes), spooned some into a bowl, and topped it with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. I ate the rhubarb as the ice cream melted on top. Superb! My husband had fallen asleep at this point (my experimenting went a little late), but I woke him and gave him a bite. He liked it too. He even held his eyes open for a couple additional tastes. I went to sleep satisfied.
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40 Reviews

stefi July 6, 2019
Amazing and simple. Made it a zillion times already! I agree with upping a little the cardamom.
Denise July 7, 2019
So good to know! It’s been far too long since I’ve made it myself. Thanks for your note, it’s serving as a reminder to make this again.
Änneken June 5, 2019
Great flavor combo! I think I'll up the cardamom just a tad next time.
Denise June 5, 2019
Glad to know you enjoyed the combo. Let us know how upping the cardamom goes.
NorthwoodsDan May 27, 2017
I've adapted this recipe into a jam and it is delicious. We have seven rhubarb plants that grow like weeds so we can jams for friends and family every year and this is now the jar/variety everyone asks for in the spring. Thank you. :)
Denise May 27, 2017
So cool! I bet it's delicious as a jam.
Megan May 21, 2017
This was very good. However, I baked it for much longer because my apple pieces were not soft enough for my taste after 30 min and there was a great deal of liquid that I hoped would thicken up. It did thicken somewhat after cooling, but was a little more liquid-y than I was expecting. It is truly delicious with vanilla ice cream. I also made these biscuits to serve with them which were outrageously good:
For me, though, with all the citrus, the apples, and warm flavors from the cardamom this felt more like a winter dish and wasn't quite what I was going for to mark the beginning of rhubarb season. Rhubarb was not the dominant flavor here- it was more citrusy. This would be a truly excellent dessert to make with frozen rhubarb in the colder months.
Denise May 27, 2017
I hope you enjoy it more made with frozen rhubarb during a colder month.
j May 16, 2016
Wow, is this dish amazing! My only tweak was to use only 1/2 C sugar and I loved how tart the dish came out. Thankfully I have two very prolific rhubarb plants in my garden because I will definitely be making this again. Probably tomorrow. It's great on its own, with yogurt, with yogurt + granola, and hopefully soon I'll know how it is with ice cream. As others have noted, this would be fantastic adapted into a galette, crumble, etc. Definitely a keeper!
Denise May 17, 2016
Bravo! I've been cutting sugar in many recipes lately. I'll probably use less the next time I make this rhubarb. So happy you enjoyed it. :)
Jesse M. April 12, 2014
YUM. I adapted this recipe into a galette. So many words. But the first that come to mind are THANK YOU. I closed my eyes and did the "mmmm" noise when I took a bite.
Denise April 13, 2014
A galette. Yum! Well done.
Kitchen B. May 8, 2013
Absolutely superb! I turned this into the base for a crumble, using Lady Grey (the citrus version of the Earl) and finely chopped clementine zest and juice. After poaching the fruit for 15 minutes, I drained off the excess liquid, which was reduced to a syrup and then topped the fruit with a spiced crumble (chinese five spice, cardamom) and finished off with oats.


I ended up having it with vanilla ice-cream for dessert, and with greek yogurt for breakfast.

Its amazing how well it went with both. Unbelievable. My sister's husband, a self-confessed rhubarb hater......for its tartness fell deep in love! Thank you for your selfless experimenting and a wonderful recipe!
Denise April 13, 2014
I like your crumble idea, and a convert--bravo!
piacere April 24, 2013
Wonderful aroma filled the entire house as this baked. Fabulous flavors. It was great topped with a big dollop or two of plain Greek yogurt. Thanks for sharing the recipe. This will be a "keeper" to make again and again. Next time I'll add in a little extra rhubarb and maybe brew the tea a little stronger so the wonderful Earl Grey flavor is retained with a little less liquid used.
Denise April 13, 2014
I adore rhubarb season and Greek yogurt is one of my favorite rhubarb toppings.
Foodiewithalife April 24, 2013
Oh my Genius! What a beautiful combination of flavors.

Denise April 13, 2014
: )
Arianna_H April 7, 2012
I made this last night as a second, vegan dessert for my Passover seder - and watched as all the omnivores went mad for it. :) It pairs beautifully with vanilla ice cream, which cuts the tartness of the fruit; the flavor combination is stunning. The rhubarb was relatively intact when I pulled it out of the oven, but had virtually disintegrated by the time it had cooled a bit and we were ready to eat - that's not a bad thing, just a surprise.
Denise April 15, 2012
So happy to see you were pleased, Arianna!
Caroforest May 30, 2011
I've been eating rhubarb compote since I was a kid but this tasted soooooo grown-up!! Loved the combination of flavor and the tea and cardamamom added just the right amount of tasty sophistication. I cut the tea a bit, like Amanda and Merryl suggested and ended up blending everything into a smooth puree. Served over thick greek yogurt. Heaven, really... Or very close to :))
Denise May 30, 2011
Wonderful! I love it w/ Greek yogurt too.
SavorLife May 19, 2011
Made this today and followed the recipe exactly. I served it with vanilla ice cream, delicious! I uploaded a photo and it managed to turn sideways in transmission. Oh well, you get the picture. Thank you for this wonderfully aromatic recipe.
Denise May 19, 2011
I'm happy to know you enjoyed it. I see your photo. You sprinkled the orange zest on top and everything. Superb!
mabcassidy April 20, 2011
First time cooking rhubarb. Next time I will make rhubarb cubes bigger than apple since they cooked faster than the apples and were mushy. Also, will try with less tea because the broth was too soupy. Great flavor with ice cream so I will try again to perfect.
Denise April 20, 2011
I do like the rhubarb to turn to a compote-like texture. Larger chunks or less cooking time might help you get a more firm texture. Less tea will certainly help minimize liquid. If a cool version appeals to you, as A&M note above, it thickens a bit as it cools. I hope you are more pleased with your second try. I switch things up with this recipe just about every time I make it. It's pretty forgiving. Have fun.
drbabs June 4, 2010
Hi Chez Danisse--I made this this morning, and while I was tempted to eat ice cream for breakfast, what I did was put a couple of tablespoons over my cereal--very wonderful--loved it--will definitely make it again. (The rhubarb acidity is so tempered by the tea, cardamom and apple that I think even my husband will like it!)
Denise June 6, 2010
Over cereal would be great. Hot cereal or cold cereal? I hope your husband liked it too. I have been known to eat ice cream for breakfast (just a little...). It's something to consider. For example:
tweeter10 May 9, 2010
I just finished making and eating this great combination of flavors! I changed the recipe a bit; two cardamon pod seeds and Earl Gray with Bergamot. Very delicate and juicy. We will definitely make this again!
Denise May 10, 2010
I wouldn't mind a little extra cardamom--nice idea. I'm so happy you enjoyed it!
knowledgeman May 7, 2010
I have actually eaten this dish and can attest that it is spunky and delicious. Just like chez danisse. (I'm her husband. I can say that.)
Denise May 7, 2010
Oh my...
MissGinsu May 6, 2010
Oh, wow. What a fantastic flavor blend. And so easy! This is going in my "keepers" file.
Denise May 6, 2010
AntoniaJames May 6, 2010
Mmmmmm. I loved this recipe when I first saw it, and am so pleased that it is a finalist! The lemon + Earl Gray (another classic pairing, of course) is brilliant here. Brava!! ;o)
Denise May 6, 2010
Thanks! I've been having so much fun with rhubarb lately. I just can't get enough.
drbabs May 6, 2010
Count me as a rhubarb virgin who loves orange, cardamom and Earl Grey tea. I'm looking forward to trying this when we get rhubarb in our CSA box! Congratulations!
Denise May 6, 2010
Excellent! I hope you like this recipe and are inspired to create a few of your own. Have fun!
mrslarkin May 6, 2010
This sounds lovely. Orange and cardamom are one of my favorite flavor combinations.Thanks for the recipe.
Denise May 6, 2010
It all comes together quite nicely. I hope you give it a go and enjoy a nice ice cream-topped bowl. Enjoy!