Have you been dreaming of spring? Rhubarb is one of the first local fruits to be harvested in the spring, so what better way to celebrate the season than with Rhubarb Dream Bars. Actually the stalk of a herbaceous plant, rhubarb has a unique tart flavor. Many people associate rhubarb with Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie, which is a delicious and traditional dessert.
Sometimes, though, you want to make a rhubarb treat that you can eat without a plate and fork, and that doesn’t require making a pie crust. The answer is an easy, portable dessert: Rhubarb Dream Bars. The rhubarb is diced and mixed into a filling, which goes on top of a simple shortbread crust. Similar to Lemon Bars, Rhubarb Dream Bars are great for parties and picnics because they can be eaten out of hand and can go without refrigeration for many hours. This recipe comes from my Aunt Jeannie, and can also be made with strawberries for another flavor twist.
Locally grown rhubarb is harvested in from April to July. You can buy local rhubarb from Tacoma Boys for $1.99 per pound.
Rhubarb Dream Bars
makes enough to fill one 12″x17″ jellyroll cookie sheet, about 24 bars
- 3 Cups white wheat pastry flour (or unbleached all-purpose flour)
- 1 1/2 Cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 Cup + 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
- 6 eggs
- 1 Cup light brown sugar
- 2 Cups granulated white sugar
- 3/4 Cup white wheat pastry flour (or unbleached all-purpose flour)
- 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 6 Cups diced rhubarb (about 2 lbs) (or use 3 Cups diced strawberries (2 lbs) and 3 Cups rhubarb (1 lb))
- Wash and dice the rhubarb (and strawberries, if using). Rhubarb is a tough plant, so use a sharp knife to slice the rhubarb, then to dice it. You can also use a food processor to slice the rhubarb.
- Spray a jellyroll pan (a cookie sheet with 1″ high sides) with non-stick spray. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Make the crust: combine flour, butter, and powdered sugar with a mixer until well-mixed and smooth.
- Plop the dough onto the pan, and press into the pan with clean hands or a spatula. It’s okay if it’s not flat, as the crust will smooth out when baking and the rhubarb filling will go on top of it anyway. Bake the crust in the 350 degree oven for 10 minutes, until the crust is set and golden brown.
- While the crust is baking, make the filling: blend the eggs, white sugar, brown sugar, flour, salt, nutmeg, vanilla, and rhubarb (or mixed rhubarb and strawberries) in a medium-sized bowl. It’s best to fold the ingredients by hand until they’re all incorporated. Take the crust out of the oven and keep the oven on at 350 degrees. Evenly spread the rhubarb mixture on top of the warm crust, and put it back in the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until the rhubarb mixture is lightly browned.
- Cool the pan on top of a baking rack, then cut with a sharp knife into squares. Rhubarb Dream Bars will keep for several hours out of a refrigerator, or for longer storage you can layer the squares between parchment paper or foil in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
For more information: Learn more about growing rhubarb from the University of Illinois and Heirloom Organics.
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