Loads of ideas for what to do with rhubarb compôte; and how to make a really good one

If you are making the In-The-Pink Zabaglione Cake, or you can’t find ready-made rhubarb compôte, and you need it for some other reason, this is how to make it. The recipe comes from a very experienced cook I know – and her dad. They are a great team – I haven’t yet found a better one.

TIP: Chef, Alex Bond, of Alchemilla in Nottingham suggests, if you want to keep the beautiful blush pink colour try infusing with dried hibiscus flowers while cooking.

The French-Canadian chef, Madame Benoit, makes a variation of this compôte including also strawberries.  She mixes ½ cup of orange juice with ¾ cup of sugar, 1 kg of rhubarb and 425g of frozen strawberries.

Recipe for Joanne’s rhubarb compôte


  • 3 sticks of rhubarb
  • 2 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp elderflower cordial (or you could use ginger wine or cointreau instead in which case a bit of orange zest would go really well with either liqueur)


  • some freshly grated ginger (or even a dash of ginger wine, if you are serving this with something sweet)


  1. Cut the rhubarb into lengths of about 5 cm/2″, and then cut vertically into quarters. If you are looking for more of a sauce, cut it even smaller.
  2. If you have time, cover the rhubarb with the sugar and leave to self-macerate, thus extracting the juices for about half an hour.
  3. Simmer for ten minutes (together with the cordial or ginger) or until the rhubarb is soft.

Other uses for rhubarb compôte:

  1. use as more of a garnish – for example, for Panna Cotta.
  2. pour hot or cold over vanilla ice cream or with thunder and lightening ice cream
  3. substitute for Rote Grütze as a topping for panna cotta
  4. mix into thick yoghurt, sprinkle with soft brown sugar and leave in the fridge for the sugar to sink down through the yoghurt
  5. swirl into mountainous, magnificent meringues; or whip into double cream and sandwich meringues together; or add to an Eton mess
  6. add to trifles
  7. use to make rhubarb sensible if you can’t find ready-made conserve
  8. use instead of peach juice in a Bellini
  9. substitute for the orange juice in the internal drizzle in a Sister Act extra-drizzly cointreau orange cake
  10. with crème fraîche and pancakes
  11. add a little less sugar and it works well as a sauce for chicken, or with smoked mackerel – yes – really!
  12. Cutting through the fattiness, it’s great with black pudding
  13. it’s good with the sweetness of shellfish
  14. MOST DELICIOUS OF ALL is Bruce Smallbone’s lemon and rhubarb confection. In an attractive bowl put a layer of the yummy The Collective luscious lemon yoghurt (which you can get in Waitrose, Ocado etc etc), a layer of the rhubarb, a layer of crumbled ginger nuts….maybe a few white chocolate chips… and then those layers all over again. If you can’t find the luscious lemon yoghurt try the raspberry flavour instead.
This post is dedicated to Bruce Stuart Smallbone.
panna cotta recipe
Use as a garnish for panna cotta.
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