comfortable panic – coconut caramel pudding, almond geleé, rhubarb compote (gluten-free)

comfortable panic – coconut caramel pudding, almond geleé, rhubarb compote (gluten-free)

It’s rhubarb season again—I planned to make many more batches of Rhubarb Syrup this time, so we can enjoy an occasional Rhubarita throughout the coming year. I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed them until I ran out of the syrup in late January.

In addition to making the syrup last week, I’d intended to bake a comforting rhubarb upside down cake, but both the temperature and humidity jumped to August intensity. With a renovation in the building temporarily cutting off the apartment A/C, all fans on high weren’t enough. Turning on the oven to 350° wasn’t a realistic option.

I needed an alternate way to enjoy rhubarb’s natural bite. By pairing it with a deep rich caramel pudding, it not only plays off the sweet and tart dynamics, but it also has a beautiful contrast in texture. The flavor is purposely not uniform—the creaminess of the pudding gets surprise visits from the swirl of rhubarb.

Since this dessert is in lieu of the Rhubarb Upside Down Cake, I amped up the comfort level by adding a layer of almond geleé.  This is reminiscent of almond dofu, a dessert I adored as a Hong Kong kid. Traditionally, it’s made with almond milk, but today, most people use regular milk and almond extract as a shortcut. This geleé uses readily available almond milk for convenience. The color is not as white, but it tasted much better than almond extract.

Coconut Caramel Pudding, Almond Geleé and Rhubarb Compote, each has their own endearing quality; simple to make, feels like home and most certainly high on the comfort factor.

Coconut Caramel Pudding, Almond Geleé, Rhubarb Compote


Coconut Caramel Pudding
  • 4 cups unsweetened coconut milk, room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1-1/2 cups (10-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Almond Geleé
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Rhubarb Compote
  • 12 ounces rhubarb, cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup (3-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Aperol (optional)


Coconut Caramel Pudding

1. In a small bowl, whisk 1/2 cup of coconut milk and cornstarch until smooth. Set aside.

2. In a large saucepan, add sugar, cook over medium-low heat, undisturbed, until sugar is amber color and begins to smoke, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat, pour in about one quarter of coconut milk; let bubble subside. Slowly add remaining coconut milk, whisk gently until smooth. Return to a simmer over medium heat, about 3-4 minutes.

3. Whisk in cornstarch mixture, continue to cook, stirring, until the pudding thickens, about 45 seconds. Pass the pudding through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium measuring cup, pressing with rubber spatula. Whisk in the butter, vanilla and salt. Dividing pudding equally among six serving glasses. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.

Almond Geleé

1. In a small saucepan, add almond milk, sprinkle gelatin over the top, let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.

2. Over medium-low heat, add sugar,  stir until the gelatin/sugar dissolves and syrup is luke warm, about 5 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Cool for 20 minutes.

4. Divide mixture equally between glasses of pudding. Refrigerate until set, at least 60 minutes.

Rhubarb Compote

1. In a medium saucepan, combine rhubarb and sugar. Cook and gently stir on medium-low heat until rhubarb releases it’s juices, but still hold their shape, about 5 minutes. Remove rhubarb with a slotted spoon to a bowl, set aside.

2. Continue to cook liquid until syrupy, about 5-8 minutes. Remove from heat, add Aperol (if use), stir to combine. Pour syrup over rhubarb and cool completely. Divide mixture equally and pour over almond geleé. Refrigerate for 30 minute and serve.