From the Menu of -- Empire State South

Q. Almost a year later, I still recall loving the Rhubarb-Buttermilk Fool at Cakes and Ale. I'd be thrilled if they would share the recipe. Many thanks. -- Shari Nagy, Alpharetta

A. While our reader was dreaming about the Rhubarb-Buttermilk Fool at Cakes and Ale, Cynthia Wong left that restaurant and became executive pastry chef at Empire State South. We tracked her down, and she shared the recipe with us. Wong told us she’ll be putting this dish on her new dessert menu as soon as rhubarb is in season.

“This is hands down one of my favorite desserts and I think is a good example of my style,” Wong said. “The combination is simple, but the flavors are very pure and full of depth, very rich but incredibly light and refreshing, and not too sweet.”

As Wong said, one of the pleasures of this recipe is that it uses rhubarb, the first red fruit of the season, and it makes a nice change from a winter dessert menu that is mostly nuts, chocolate and citrus. “I'm really looking forward to making this dessert again at Empire State South. I'll probably update the technique behind it to make the textures even lighter and more refreshing,” Wong said. She prefers Sparkman’s buttermilk, available locally at Whole Foods Market.

Is there a recipe from a metro Atlanta restaurant you'd like to make at home? Tell us and we'll try to get it. We'll also test it and adapt it for the home kitchen. Because of volume, we can't answer all inquiries. Send your request, your address and phone number to fromthemenu@gmail.com and put "From the menu of” and the name of the restaurant in the subject line.

Cynthia Wong’s Rhubarb-Buttermilk Fool

Hands on: 30 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Serves: 6

2 cups granulated sugar, plus extra if needed for puree and to sweeten cream, divided

2 cups water

1 vanilla bean

1 pound rhubarb, rinsed, cut into1/2-inch chunks

Fresh lemon juice, if needed

1 3/4 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup buttermilk

In a small saucepan, make vanilla syrup by combining 2 cups sugar and water. Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Place the bean and seeds in the pot with the sugar and vanilla. Over medium-high heat, bring syrup to a boil. Add rhubarb and stir. When syrup comes back to a boil, remove pan from stove and pour rhubarb and syrup into a heatproof container. Cool to room temperature.

Reserve 1 cup rhubarb pieces and pour remaining rhubarb and syrup into the jar of a blender. Puree until smooth, adding more sugar or lemon juice as needed to correct the flavor. You can use the rhubarb puree as is or do as Wong does at the restaurant and put puree into an ice cream maker, following manufacturer’s directions. When done, freeze mixture. When ready to serve, allow to thaw to half-frozen and proceed with recipe.

Prepare whipped cream fool by pouring cream into a medium bowl and adding 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar to sweeten. Just before soft peaks form, add buttermilk and whip 1 minute more. Mixture will not be as stiff as whipped cream but will be airy and light.

To prepare individual servings, layer whipped cream fool and rhubarb puree in alternating layers in 6 chilled glasses. Top with the pieces of poached rhubarb. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 518 calories (percent of calories from fat, 44), 3 grams protein, 72 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 26 grams fat (16 grams saturated), 96 milligrams cholesterol, 50 milligrams sodium.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.