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 · breakfast · brunch · comfort food · Dating · dessert · easy · Fruit · jam · pie · snacks · Tarts · travel · vacation · vegetarian

Strawberry Rhubarb Tarts

I texted Cortney today, “I miss you. I want to come visit and drink iced coffee in the rocking chairs. Then we can go for a swim at our beach.” She responded with, “I’m ready. Let’s do it.”

Don’t have a lid for your sauce pan? Just cover with another pan! Lids are for rich people.

The rocking chairs are special for us. They’re all along the front porch of the Moana Hotel in Waikiki. Cortney took me there on my first trip to Oahu 2 years ago because it’s a great spot for people watching. I had ordered iced coffee from the coffee shop attached to the hotel and impulsed a few macaroons as well. We settled into our chairs with our fancy cookies and proceeded to check out all the hot people that walked by, having one of our many epic conversations. That experience stuck out to me. It’s silly, because we also went snorkeling and hiking and touring and did a million other amazing Hawaiian things. This was just one random morning. But for some reason, every time I think about visiting her again, I imagine those rocking chairs.

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During my most recent visit we recreated it. It was the morning after my second date with the guy. I refused to tell her anything about it until we were comfortably seated in our chairs with iced coffee and macaroons. She was dying. Keep in mind, Cortney has never met the guy. He is merely a friend of a friend. She didn’t actually have a clue how our dates were going to go, or if he was going to be a crazy person that sends unsolicited dick pics. For all she knew, he could have been a fucking murderer. Honestly, it’s mostly just dumb luck that I’m not dead right now. Okay, I’m being dramatic, but after my Tinder experiences I have become a little (understandably) guarded. So we sat down in our beautiful wooden rocking chairs, taking bites of our tropical flavored macaroons, and I finally launched into the story about the night before, when I discovered that I had found someone incredible. And we did what Cortney and I do best… we talked it all out. She let me gush, and then offered up her thoughts/feelings/encouragement. She allowed me to be unapologetically myself, just like she always does (and what I try to always do for her), and encouraged me to feel all my feelings. While I skipped zero details with Cortney (often starting statements with, “This is a little TMI, but….”), I will skip almost all of the details with you, dear readers. Just know that this person made me feel like I was enough, just as I am… in all of my very human glory.

(Side note: He’s coming to visit me next week. “Excited” is an understatement.)

When Cortney visited last fall, we made hand pies. This is a variation of that, but better (in my opinion). The only annoying part is the fucking dough. All the freezing of shit and the waiting. I’m not great at waiting (duh). It turns out that it’s worth the wait, and it’s easy as fuck to make. Get on it, y’all. You won’t be sorry.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Tartsย (inspired by Smitten Kitchen)

1 1/2 pounds rhubarbs stalks (or approx. 6-10 stalks depending on size), cleaned and trimmed of leaves/dirty ends

1 cup dark brown sugar

a splash of vanilla

2ish tablespoons strawberry jam (Thanks, Stacy!)

Slice rhubarb in half, length-wise, and then chop in approximately 3/4″ pieces. You should have about 4 1/2 cups, but it doesn’t have to be exact. Set aside 1 1/2 cups. Combine 3 cups of the chopped rhubarb with the brown sugar and vanilla in a sauce pan on the stove over medium-low heat. Cover and let sit for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. It should become pretty saucy. Uncover and increase heat to medium, cooking for another 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce thickens and causes the spoon to leave a trail at the bottom of the pan. Once finished, stir in the strawberry jam, letting it melt in. Finally, add in the remaining 1 1/2 cups of rhubarb. Pour into a bowl and set in refrigerator until cool.

For the crust: follow instructions from Fruit Hand Pies. Except you’ll just put a scoop of the filling in the center of a piece of dough and mush the sides up around it. It’s like a little bowl for jam… that you can eat!

Place them on a greased cookie sheet (or cake pan!) and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes. This should make about 8-10 tarts. I only had enough rhubarb for 4 tarts. Then I ate one before the final photo, which is why there are only 3 finished tarts. Fuck it. I’m human, and I was hungry/had a craving. My only regret is that I didn’t make more.