baking · bars · comfort food · dessert · easy · potluck food · snacks · vegetarian · Yummy

Rhubarb Custard Bars

It doesn’t get more Midwestern than rhubarb. It is the only thing nearly all of our mothers were able to grow in the backyard despite not having a garden. It grows anywhere and everywhere with no help at all from humans. I grew up with rhubarb bread every single summer, so it felt like a no-brainer to sell rhubarb bread at the farmer’s market. I wanted to keep things seasonal, and expected to change my bread offerings each week. I honestly had no idea the reaction I would receive to offering rhubarb bread, though. People love the stuff. I sold out with in the first hour and 15 minutes of my first market. I sold an entire loaf as my first sale at my second market. I knew rhubarb bread was special to me, but I had no idea that everyone else would love it just as much (or more). What felt like something that would just be meaningful to me ended up being meaningful to nearly every customer that stopped by. Offering a slice of rhubarb bread clearly brought them back to their childhood; a look of blissful nostalgia washing over their faces after each bite. I wasn’t the only one that grew up with a mom putting rhubarb to good use. I’ve chatted with so many people about their rhubarb memories growing up, many of them having not had a slice of rhubarb bread in years. It’s a funny thing to connect over, as I was truly unaware that we had all had this shared experience, and was surprised when my bread triggered something in people.

When rhubarb bread goes right vs when rhubarb bread goes wrong.

I won’t be sharing the recipes I sell at the market, but I will gladly share this recipe from Taste of Home. I cut the recipe in half, because I didn’t need 87 fucking bars lying around. It’s just T and me, and we still had a disaster of fucked up rhubarb bread to eat (long story short – I doubled my rhubarb bread recipe one night and forgot to double the flour, which left me with 4 gooey globs that tasted amazing with ice cream, but was NOT sellable or pretty). I’ll post the full recipe here, but if you want to cut it in half, just use an 8 x 8 pan instead of the 9 x 13 it requires.

Fun fact: This recipe, when done in full, uses over twice as much rhubarb as one of my rhubarb bread recipes.

It’s super tart and creamy and FUCKING DELICIOUS. My cousin served these at her wedding. She had a dessert TABLE, which is honestly what everyone should do. I couldn’t stop blabbing about the bars, so my aunt took pity on me and sent me the recipe. I couldn’t live without them, and now you don’t have to either. Go scrape together the last few stalks of rhubarb remaining for the season, and get to baking.

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They don’t photograph well/I don’t know how to properly photograph food yet.

Rhubarb Custard Bars

Cookie crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup cold butter, cubed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 pan and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and sugar. Then cut butter into dry ingredients with either a fork or your fingers (I mush everything together with my hands) until it forms course crumbs* with some chunks of butter remaining. Press mixture into pan in an even layer. Bake for 10 minutes.

Custard filling:

2 cups sugar

7 tablespoons flour

1 cup heavy whipping cream

3 large, room temp eggs, beaten

5 cups finely chopped rhubarb (mine wasn’t “finely chopped,”and it was fine)

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and sugar. Whisk in eggs and cream before folding in the rhubarb. Pour over the baked crust and bake again for 40-45 minutes. Let cool fully before adding the topping.

Topping:

6 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped

In a mixer, whip together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy. Fold in whipped heavy cream. Spread over the top, cover, and set in fridge. Once set, cut into bars. Gobble up as many as you can while it’s still rhubarb season. Don’t share with friends.

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This is what I mean when I say “course crumbs.”

baking · bars · dessert · easy · quick · snacks · vegetarian

Blondies

The snow has been out of fucking control here in Minneapolis. We didn’t get much snow at all this winter until about 2 weeks ago, at which point it dumped all the snow we should have gotten over the course of 3 months in 2 weeks. On top of that we also had the coldest day on record since the fucking 1800’s* or some shit. I HAD ICE ON THE INSIDE OF MY APARTMENT WINDOWS.

THIS IS NOT OKAY.

Today the city issued yet another snow emergency, which just means the street parking situation will be all fucked up. My tiny ass Honda Fit is missing her cushy life with the retired couple that bought her new 10 years ago. She used to live in a garage for fuck’s sake. But she’s a fighter! It only took 3 tries (and a little pep talk) to get her started on the coldest day in recent history (it was a high of -15… that’s NEGATIVE FIFTEEN DEGREES).

The day prior to the icy windows day was a balmy high of -2, so I thought it’d be a great idea to walk to therapy. After all, it was only 4 blocks from the gym, which was already charging me for parking, so why pay a meter too? I layered up with my base layer first, which consisted of leggings, wool socks, a tank top, and a long sleeved t-shirt. Then I had a cheap-ass peacoat, a very warm knit hat that covered my ears, a chunky hand knit infinity scarf (also pulled over the hat), and super warm mittens. Oh, and snow boots of course. I don’t fuck around with footwear in the winter. It’s always North Face now that I’m an adult. In New York, my tiny 23-year-old brain thought discount store fashion boots were acceptable footwear in the snow. I was a goddamn moron. Clearly I haven’t learned much yet, though. Because, if you know anything about winter, you’ll know that my attire for that 4 block walk was absolutely not sufficient. My legs were literally only covered with LEGGINGS. Not even thick yoga leggings, but fashion leggings. I might as well have been out there pants-less. That millimeter of fabric was doing absolutely nothing to cut the wind. At first I thought I’d be fine, because it’s only 4 blocks. I can handle anything for 4 blocks. Halfway through the walk I realized I’d made a huge mistake. My thighs were starting to hurt, and I was getting nervous. By block 3 my thighs started to sting. Waiting for the crosswalk across the street from my therapist’s office they started to feel warm again. That’s when I really started to panic, because I had some elementary school memory flash before me of being told that was a bad sign (which is completely false, but try telling that to my anxiety). I couldn’t cross that street fast enough, and silently cursed every single car that made me wait.

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Bourdain likes to help.

I finally made it to my appointment, and even back to my car afterwards (with a stop at Chipotle to warm up). This week I opted to pay for parking across the street. Plus, it gave my car a chance to warm up in the parking ramp. She deserves it. She didn’t ask for this life.

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After therapy last week, I decided to bake yet again. I’ve been baking a lot due to the weather. Plus, it calms me down when I’m anxious or overwhelmed, which has also been an issue lately. I’m also hoping to get a spot in the local farmer’s market to sell baked goods, which means I need to practice different recipes. I’ve been feeding T like crazy, and also bringing things to work. These blondies were not heavily shared, though. I was feeling selfish, and that’s okay. Plus, the recipe only makes an 8 x 8 pan of them, which is so much more manageable than most brownie and blondie recipes.

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Feel free to mix in whatever you’d like instead of the vanilla chips and pecans. Chocolate chips would be awesome, as well as various candy and nuts. I chose vanilla chips and pecans because I wanted to keep these “blonde” rather than just making a variation of a chocolate chip cookie.

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Blondies (originally from here)

1 stick butter, melted

1 cup packed dark or light brown sugar (I used dark because it’s better)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

Dash of salt

1 cup flour

1/3 cup vanilla chips mixed with chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 pan and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together butter and sugar. Add in egg and vanilla. Whisk well. Then with a large spoon, slowly incorporate the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Finally, fold in the vanilla chips and chopped pecans.

Press into greased baking dish so that it’s one even layer (it will be the consistency of cookie dough). Bake for 25-30 minutes. Scoop a big bite out as soon as it’s cool enough to not burn your face off. Cut the rest into cute little squares and serve on a plate/tray so no one else knows you weren’t able to control yourself before it was fully cooled. Or don’t and own it. You’re allowed to eat blondies at any temperature you choose.

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*This “stat” was pulled right out of my ass. I believe it was the coldest day since the 90’s. Same thing though, right?