Shortbread Biscuits with Poached Rhubarb and Sweet Sabayon

In Richard Phillips' hands, the favourite biscuit of afternoon tea is transformed into an impressive layered dessert to grace any restaurant
By Richard Phillips
Shortbread Biscuits with Poached Rhubarb and Sweet Sabayon
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6-8
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes plus chilling time
  • Effort: medium


For the shortbread

  • 400 g unsalted butter
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 500 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • icing sugar, for dusting

For the rhubarb

  • 12 stalks rhubarb
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 30 ml lemon juice

For the sabayon

  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 100 ml water
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 100 ml champagne


1. To make the shortbread: cream the butter and sugar together in a round-bottomed bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and mix in lightly. Add the flour and use your fingers to rub it in, creating a crumb texture.

2. Knead the mixture to form a smooth dough. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest for 12 hours.

3. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough to about 3mm thick. Cut into rectangles measuring 10 x 5cm, place on a non-stick baking tray and leave to rest in the fridge for approximately 10 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to 170C/gas 3. Bake the shortbread until it is a light sand colour - too much browning will result in a bitter taste. Set aside to cool.

5. To cook the rhubarb: cut it into 7.5 x 2cm batons. Place in a saucepan with the sugar and lemon juice and poach gently until the rhubarb is tender. Remove the rhubarb with a slotted spoon and keep warm. Bring the cooking liquid to a boil and simmer until it has reduced to a glaze consistency.

6. To make the sabayon sauce: combine the caster sugar and water in a saucepan. Stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves, then bring to a boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes to give a light syrup, then set aside to cool.

7. Fill a medium saucepan with 3-5cm of water and bring to a low simmer. Combine the sugar syrup, egg yolks and champagne in a large heatproof bowl and place over the pan of steaming water. Whisk together until the mixture starts to foam, then continue cooking gently and whisking constantly for 10-15 minutes, until the sauce is cooked, light and fluffy.

8. To serve, reheat the rhubarb in the glaze. Lay one piece of shortbread on the centre of each serving plate. Spoon over some of the warm rhubarb, then some of the sabayon. Repeat the process, then top with a piece of shortbread dusted with icing sugar. Drizzle the rhubarb glaze around the outside of the plate.

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