Every early spring I’m all about rhubarb. With our own (now mature) plant for the first time since moving from Canada, it’s an extra special year, because I was quite grouchy about having to buy it previously.
The pale pink rhubarb ice cream base is excellent on its own, but an extra swirl of rhubarb compote adds both an extra hit of flavour and a beautiful bright colour. No need for berries as red beet adds a nice colour to green rhubarb.
A nice mix of sweet and tart, this is truly spring in ice cream form. It works just as well with frozen rhubarb if you’d like to extend the season.
If you want to grow your own rhubarb, keep in mind that it won’t start producing well (that is, enough to harvest regularly) until at minimum the second year. This long-living perennial needs a couple of years to settle in before you can get a lot out of it, but it’s well worth planting, and will spread over time.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Rhubarb compote: the main ingredient, really – make sure you like the flavour, but don’t be tempted to over sweeten, as the custard base will be sweet.
- Coconut milk: full-fat for the best texture and flavour. Something like cashew cream (page 238 of my cookbook) can be used as a substitute, or use a mix of half cream and half milk if you prefer to use dairy.
- Egg yolks: from large eggs, ideally at room temperature. Use the leftover whites in these lentil patties.
- Honey: honey is better than sugar in ice cream as it freezes less solidly and makes for a silkier end product.
- Vanilla: powder, paste, or extract. I like powder for the speckled look and stronger flavour.
Step by Step
Step 1: whisk the honey and egg yolks in a large bowl and set aside, then heat the milk. Slowly whisk into the eggs.
Step 2: heat over low, stirring constantly, until thickened into a custard.
Step 3: stir in the rhubarb compote and chill fully.
Step 4: churn according to your ice cream maker instructions.
Step 5: transfer to a freezer-safe container an swirl in the remaining compote.
Step 6: freeze and serve.
This can be made without an ice cream maker. Pour the cooled mixture into a shallow tin and use a fork to stir (breaking up ice crystals) every hour or so until frozen through. Add the extra compote about halfway through the process, when the ice cream is still soft enough to stir.
For an egg-free option, it is possible to make this with a cornstarch or arrowroot custard, as in my vegan cookie dough ice cream. I find that the rhubarb compote makes it rather icy and the ice cream has a poor texture without eggs.
A store-bought rhubarb compote can be used in place of homemade if you can’t get rhubarb or would prefer to skip the extra step. If you would rather not use coconut milk, another cream can be subbed in its place.
The compote will naturally be a bit icier than the surrounding ice cream. This is normal, and it’ll be easy to scoop as long as you thaw the container for a few minutes before serving.
- Chill the container: this is optional, but it’s a good idea to chill or freeze the container you plan to transfer the churned ice cream into. This will prevent the ice cream from melting around the edges before re-freezing.
- Don’t over-churn: this is a common pitfall for homemade ice cream beginners – the ice cream should be churned until it looks like soft-serve, then mixing should stop. If over-churned, it will be hard and icy.
- Keep stirring: with custard bases, it’s crucial to stir constantly to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pot and scrambling the eggs. Prepare yourself to stand over the stove for several minutes, or sit on a stool if you have one.
More Spring Rhubarb Recipes
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Rhubarb Ice Cream
- 150 grams honey
- 3 large egg yolks room temperature
- 400 grams full-fat canned coconut milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla powder or 1 teaspoon extract
- 2 batches rhubarb compote ~450 grams (16 oz.), divided
- Before you begin, make sure the bowl of your ice cream maker is frozen and ready to use.
- Add the honey and egg yolks to a heat safe bowl. Whisk until well mixed and slightly lighter in colour. Set aside.150 grams honey, 3 large egg yolks
- Pour the coconut milk into a small saucepan. Heat on medium-high until hot but not quite boiling.400 grams full-fat canned coconut milk
- Very slowly pour the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking continuously, to temper the eggs. If this is your first time making egg custard, add a separate splash of milk and whisk before pouring in the remaining.
- Once the egg-milk mixture is ready, pour it back into the saucepan. Add the vanilla.1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
- Heat over low, stirring constantly, for about 10 minutes. After this time, the custard should be thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Don’t be tempted to turn up the heat or you’ll risk scrambling the eggs.
- Once the custard is thickened, remove it from the heat. Cover and allow to come to room temperature, then add half the compote.2 batches rhubarb compote
- Refrigerate the custard base until chilled through, about four hours.
- After chilling, churn the ice cream according to machine instructions. Once churned, scoop the ice cream into a freezer-safe container or tin.
- Add the remaining compote to the top of the ice cream in dollops, then use a spoon to swirl it in. Don’t over-mix, there should be a visible swirl.2 batches rhubarb compote
- Place the ice cream into the freezer to freeze fully. Thaw for 10 minutes in the refrigerator before serving.
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.
This recipe was originally published in July 2015. It has been updated with some slight changes to the recipe as of May 2021.
If you’re looking for approachable, seasonal vegetarian recipes, you’re in the right place! Occasionally Eggs is all about healthier plant based recipes that follow the seasons.