Rhubarb and Custard Yo-Yos
After a very long break from baking due to an outbreak of boy flu and a nit infestation (I’m sure those vile creatures would survive the apocalypse) I decided to make some biscuits. We’ve been eating quite a lot of cake recently, and, in my mind, biscuits would be less sinful. They probably aren’t at all, especially when the biscuits (which are mainly butter) are actually two biscuits sandwiched together with a (very thick) layer of buttercream. That’s what I tell myself, though as I wolf them down and reach for just a couple more.
Anyway, since we have rhubarb ready for picking in the garden, I looked through the books for a recipe that used it. I found rhubarb and custard yo-yos in Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh.
I had an image of a yo-yo in the back of my mind as a chocolate biscuit sandwiched with a mint filling coated in chocolate. Something that you’d have in your lunchbox when there weren’t any Trios left. They weren’t easy to track down (i.e. they didn’t have their own Wikipedia entry), but my mind wasn’t playing tricks. They did exist, coming in at number six in the top twenty biscuits of the nineties (according to the Metro anyway). These aren’t the yo-yos that are in Sweet. The recipe is for Australian yo-yos, which are shortbread sandwich biscuits.
I admit that these weren’t the most difficult of biscuits to bake. There was just the usual thing with biscuits. Making sure that they were cooked all the way through, without having burned edges. Actually, my biggest challenge was summoning up the energy to make them.
The yo-yo biscuits were filled with roasted rhubarb icing. The recipe required a “1 small stick.” How small is a small stick of rhubarb? You can get all sizes in the shops. Short, neatly trimmed ones, longer ones with the pale bulbous bit still on the end. I thought my rhubarb looked a bit on the short and thin side, so I pulled up two sticks. I think the icing would have benefited from more. An indication of the approximate weight of rhubarb required for the recipe would have been helpful.
The first thing to do was to roast the rhubarb which I did at 160° fan for 30 minutes. Next, I had to purée it. The recipe used a processor for this step, but we only have a very small one and, if I was going to add butter and sugar to the purée there wouldn’t be enough room. I used my blender instead. It’s massive. My icing was lost at the bottom, even after I’d added the icing sugar, butter and a bit of lemon juice. Next time, I’ll purée the rhubarb separately and make the icing in my mixer. By itself the icing tasted good. I could taste the rhubarb anyway.
To make the biscuits, I mixed plain flour, custard powder, icing sugar and salt together in my mixer and added some butter. I kept mixing until I’d got to the breadcrumb stage. I’d usually do this with my pastry blender, but it was fine in the mixer. I wonder whether the mixer would work for pastry? Perhaps I’ll give it a try next time I make a tart.
I increased the speed and added some vanilla extract. The recipe says that the mixture should come together in a dough in 30 seconds. I was beating for a lot longer than 30 seconds, but the ingredients did come together, eventually.
I didn’t have to roll the dough to make the biscuits, I made small balls which I squashed down with a fork dipped in flour.
The recipe made fifteen yo-yos so I needed thirty small balls. I ended up with forty-four, so I guess my dough balls could have been a bit bigger. I baked the biscuits on a lined baking tray for twenty-five minutes at 150° fan. They turned out looking very like the ones in the picture in Sweet. Well done me!
To finished them off I covered half of them with my rhubarb icing and sandwiched the biscuits together. Here they are.
Looking good I have to admit.
Was it Worth it?
Yes, these were worth it. The biscuits were crumbly, they melted in the mouth and they weren’t difficult to make. I also managed to get them out of the oven before they dried out. I could have done with more icing though. I suppose that’s because I ended up with twenty-odd biscuits rather than the recipe amount of fifteen. The icing could also have taken a lot more rhubarb. When I ate a cheeky mouthful by itself, just to check the taste you understand, the rhubarb was definitely there. When it was in the biscuit it all but disappeared.
It’s been a positive return to the kitchen, I’ll just have to see if I can maintain the enthusiasm for something a bit more daring next time…