Rhubarb Bars

I found an irresistible rhubarb recipe, and I’m so glad I didn’t hesitate to try it because it was fantastic!  For all the steps, it really wasn’t too hard, and I could fudge all the wait-and-cool steps to make this in about an hour and a half  as a last minute treat for a friend’s party.  Seriously, give them a try.

I started with the CSA rhubarb from our share, cea and rkd‘s share, and the extra one I snagged after pickup ended.  I just had to agree to make enough to leave some bars for cea to enjoy later, so with these stalks (~10, 1 1/3 lb), I made 1 1/2 times the original rhubarb recipe and 3 times the shortbread crust…why not turn all the delicious curd into bars?

I didn’t quite triple the sugar, using only about 2/3 C total.  The rhubarb softened nicely in just the time it took me to whip up the shortbread crust.  And I didn’t wait for it to cool before pureeing with my immersion blender right in the pan.

Then I started the curd in a makeshift double boiler.  (I also learned a nice trick that you can freeze unused egg whites, alleviating the urgency to make a complementary dish when you need all these yolks.)  I mostly used a rubber spatula and it seemed to come together fine.  I started adding the rhubarb and the lemon zest and continued to mix, watching the pale-pink rhubarb puree get even paler, and ended up adding all of the rhubarb.  If I had more puree, I might have even added a little more (though not sure at what point you’d add too much, either).

ib got very excited as I started to whip up the shortbread crust, saying ‘who knew it was so easy!’  And it was… You just don’t want to know what’s in it… Once it was all mixed up (by hand), I pressed 1/3 into a 4×8 pan and the other 2/3 into a 9×13.  They browned nicely in the oven and finished at the same time as the rhubarb curd.  I spread an even layer over each pan and threw them back into the oven.  I even got a minute to lick the bowl from the curd and clean up while the bars finished baking!

Since we had to run off to this party, I threw the finished bars into the freezer for a couple of minutes and then removed them from the glass pan.  The shortbread came out really nicely for still being quite warm.  While they were a bit tricky to transport (still sticky and all), the 9×13 pan made plenty of bars to share at the party.

These bars were deliciously tart and sweet, but didn’t pull off the same bright pink color that was promised.  I’m guessing that my rhubarb wasn’t red enough to start with, so if there’s a choice, I’d choose the ripest, reddest stalks I can find.  They could optionally be dusted with powedered sugar too, but were still quite nice on their own (even without the bright pink) so I didn’t go to the trouble. While others didn’t complain, I wouldn’t add the lemon zest next time as I thought the lemon flavor was distracting from the stand-alone flavor and tartness of the rhubarb itself. Overall these were divine and will be added to my list of rhubarb recipes, right after Grandma’s strawberry-rhubarb pie!

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