It's season is from April to September. The leaves are considered toxic but are usually removed by the seller. Look for long, firm, fleshy stalks for optimal taste and freshness. Look for that strong, red color.
The pretty color of the bars is what lured me in; I'm simple-minded like that. I hate to say it because I don't want to be a groupie but... my goodness. These bars are wonderful and really neat to make. Bear in mind, this was my 1st time playing with rhubarb. They gently fell apart in the pot and transformed into this light pink puree in a matter of minutes. I was impressed.
The flavor? It's kind of like a lemon but not as zesty. Tart. Refreshing and light. I think eating one bar is perfect. I was tickled that such a flavor exists in a veggie that looks like celery. Okay Rhubarb. You've won me over. At least in this recipe. The crust is delicious as well! I found these lovely bars by Lara Ferroni. The curd is adapted from Ginger Tablet and the crust from Joe Pastry.
Note, you will have left over puree. Save it in the fridge as a spread. It can last up to a week. This recipe calls for a 9x5 baking dish. I couldn't find one at the time so I used an 8x8. If you have the 9x5, I strongly encourage using it to make the bars cut more evenly. Also, let them cool completely before you serve them! My brother was literally circling the dish so I cut them early. While they tasted perfect, the were not 100% settled as you can see in the pictures.
400 grams/ almost 1 lb of rhubarb (about 10 to 15 stalks)
1/4 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional, if you want more tartness)
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut up into chunks
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
4 ounces butter, room temperature
1 cup (136 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
a pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350. Makes about a dozen bars.
Make the rhubarb puree. Wash and chop rhubarb into 1/2 inch chunks. There is no need to peel, but if your stalks are particularly large, you might trim off any tough parts. Stir the rhubarb and 1/4 cup of sugar together and let sit for about 10 minutes. Place in a medium sized pot with about 1/4 cup of water and cook over low heat until you can no longer see whole pieces. Turn off the heat and let cool to room temperature. Blend to a smooth puree if you desire (this will remove any remaining little stringy bits, but it isn’t necessary).
While this is cooling, make the crust. Place the butter, flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a mixer. Start on low speed, stir until it resembles course crumbs. Then increase speed slightly and continue to mix until a soft dough forms. Lara says it's kind of like magic and she wasn't kidding! The crumbs eventually turn into a nice, soft dough.
Take the dough and press it into a 9x 5 baking dish. Let rest at room temperature for about 15 minutes, and then bake until it is lightly golden, about 20 minutes. While the dough is baking, finish preparing the curd.
By now, the puree should have cooled to room temperature and is ready to be made into curd. In a double boiler, whisk the egg yolks, remaining sugar and salt. Whisk until well combined and warm. Add about 1 cup of the stewed rhubarb and the lemon zest (optional). Keep stirring until the mixture is warm again. Check for taste and add more of the pureed rhubarb until you get the desired flavor and color.
Remove from heat and stir in the butter chunks.
Pour the enough curd onto the crust to make a layer a little less than 1/4 inch thick. Make sure it settles evenly by gently tapping on the counter. Bake for another 10 minutes, until the curd has set. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate if desired (it’s easier to slice when chilled). Dust with powdered sugar and serve!
These bars were demolished in my house, so make sure you have enough to share!