Rhubarb Rose Petal Caramel Syrup + 4 Variations

One of the easiest and most effective ways to elevate a simple dessert to epicurean heights is to add a brightly colored, brightly flavored dessert syrup. Top notch dessert chefs frequently use this strategy.

One of the most memorable examples of this for me was the following dessert served at Quinn’s in Seattle: a perfect chevre panna cotta accompanied by both rhubarb and basil syrups.

You can serve a dessert syrup over ice cream or gelato, alongside panna cotta or baked custard, with tea cakes, or as the key flavoring of an Italian soda, lemonade, or limeade (recipe below).

They can also be delicious with savory dishes, such as alongside creamy cheeses served with baguette crisps. You can make them more or less sweet, as needed.

In this rhubarb dessert syrup, caramelized sugar adds an interesting complexity to the otherwise straightforward sprightliness of the rhubarb (or strawberries if you choose that variation). And rose petals, although not strictly necessary, add a subtle floral note that complements the rhubarb perfectly.

Rhubarb Rose Petal Caramel Syrup

There is something magical about the addition of a surprising and complimentary flavor element to an otherwise standard dessert. Fresh fruit syrups elevate nearly any dessert to elegant heights. Add caramel and the effect is out of this world.

Ingredient Note I love the subtle dimension that rose petal lends to rhubarb. However, the sauce is also delicious without it. Or try the fresh ginger, lemon verbena, or lavender variation below.

3 cups chopped rhubarb
½ cup water
1 tablespoon dried rose petals, optional

1½ cups sugar
½ cup water

  1. In a small saucepan, add the rhubarb, water, and rose petals and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 2 minutes, until the rhubarb is very soft. Remove from the heat and reserve.
  2. In a dry, heavy saucepan, cook sugar over moderate heat, stirring occasionally with a silicon spatula, until melted. Then cook, without stirring, swirling pan, until a golden caramel color.
  3. Remove pan immediately from the heat and carefully (stand back) add water and chopped rhubarb (caramel will steam and harden).
  4. Return pan to heat and simmer the sauce, stirring, 10 minutes, or until caramel dissolves.
  5. Pour sauce through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl, pressing hard on solids, and
  6. cool completely.
  7. Sauce may be made up to 4 days ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Makes about 2 cups.


Rhubarb Fresh Ginger Caramel Syrup

  • Substitute 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger for the rose petals at Step 1.

Rhubarb Lemon Verbena Caramel Syrup

  • Substitute several fresh lemon verbena leaves for the rose petals at Step 1.

Rhubarb Lavender Caramel Syrup

  • Substitute 1 teaspoon dried lavender for the rose petals at Step 1.

Strawberry Rose Petal Caramel Syrup

  • Substitute fresh, stemmed and chopped strawberries for the rhubarb.

Rhubarb Rose Petal Limeade

In case you have any Rhubarb Rose Petal Caramel Syrup left over, this is a delicious way to use it.

4 ounces cold water
3 ounces Rhubarb Rose Petal Caramel Syrup
2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
ice cubes

  1. Add water, syrup, lime juice, and a handful of ice cubes to a cocktail shaker, seal with the top of the shaker, and shake vigorously until the shaker feels extremely cold.
  2. Taste and adjust acidity, sweetness, and intensity levels by adding one or more of the three key ingredients.
  3. To serve, pour into a chilled 10-ounce glass.

Serves 1.


Copyright 2011 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.

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  1. says

    the colorful photos are absolutely oozing off the computer screen; thanx for great idea with encouragement to add/tweak that beautiful syrup and beverage, too!

  2. Marcia Hulan says

    I love the interesting twists you put on caramel. This looks like another winner — I’m always looking for new ways to use rhubarb having finally tasted it for the first time a few years ago. This looks like something I could do year ’round if I prep and freeze the rhubarb now.

    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Marcia, thank you! :-) I finally added rhubarb to the perennial garden this year. I love having it on hand throughout the summer and the large exotic-looking leaves are very pretty with the flowers. Yes, freezing the excess is the way to go.


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