Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Rhubarb Bars

Sorry about the long silence. I’ve been getting used to cooking in a small apartment kitchen again, which is even smaller with a high chair in it. On the bright side, having access to lactose-free cream once again is an absolute delight! I’ll get around to posting those recipes soon enough, but first, here’s one for the tail end of rhubarb season. I got this rhubarb bar recipe on Lara Ferroni’s blog. These bars are like lemon bars, only with rhubarb curd instead of lemon curd.

My bars didn’t come out as pink as the ones in the original post, but the curd would have been pinker had I selected only the pinkest part of the stalk for the purée. This is purely aesthetic, though, and doesn’t change the taste. I made them with butter, but in hindsight, I would make then with vegan margarine next time. Note also that while I used the optional lemon zest in the recipe, I’d omit it next time, as I thought the taste competed too much with the rhubarb. I changed the quantities below, because right off the bat, if a recipe starts with “mix rhubarb with sugar, then use part of that for the curd, then use part of the curd for the bars”, I’m annoyed. So I reduced some quantities, and the amounts below are what I recommend. These bars were absolutely delicious – what a great way to showcase rhubarb! I’ll be adding this to the recipes I make each spring.

For the rhubarb curd
200 g. rhubarb (about 5 or 6 stalks)
2 or 3 Tbsp. sugar (to taste, depending on how sweet your rhubarb is)
2 Tbsp. water
4 egg yolks
6 Tbsp. sugar
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional; I’d omit it next time)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter or margarine, cut up into chunks

Wash and chop rhubarb into ½-inch chunks. There is no need to peel it, but if your stalks are particularly large, you might trim off any tough parts. Stir the rhubarb and 2 or 3 Tbsp. of sugar together and let sit for about 10 minutes. Place in a medium sized pot with the 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 purée if you desire (while this isn’t necessary, it does ensure a smoother consistency, and it was a cinch with my immersion blender, so I recommend it).

In a double boiler (or a bowl over boiling water), whisk the egg yolks, remaining sugar and salt. Whisk until well combined and warm. Add the stewed rhubarb and the lemon zest, if using. Keep stirring until the mixture is warm again. Remove from heat and stir in the butter chunks. If you are not using the curd immediately, let it cool to room temperature and then store refrigerated for up to a week.

For the rhubarb bars
4 oz. butter, room temperature (or cold vegan margarine)
1 cup (136 grams) all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
a pinch of salt
rhubarb curd from the recipe above
powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 °F.

Place the butter, flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a mixer. Start on low speed (to keep the flour from flying everywhere), stir until it resembles coarse crumbs. Then increase speed slightly and continue to mix until a soft dough forms. It's kind of magic.

Take the dough and press it into a 9" x 5" baking dish. (I used an 8”x8” dish, and perhaps I should have baked it a few more minutes than is recommended, but it worked out fine.) Let rest at room temperature for about 15 minutes, and then bake until it is lightly golden, about 20 minutes.

Pour the curd onto the crust and 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 before slicing, if you'd like.

No comments: