Rhubarb Bars

Thursday, May 22, 2014

I've mentioned my grandparents previously and had them both in mind when I created this very springy dessert. Grandy loved lemon squares and I have very happy memories of us baking them together. Grampy loves strawberry rhubarb pie and I remember my mom, Pie Baking Queen of our family (my sister is Princess), bringing him a mini one at Easter or Fathers' Day as a special treat. I was up in Massachusetts a few weekends ago and decided to bring a rhubarb treat his way, as well!

Fully inspired by lemon squares, Katie At The Kitchen Door posted a rhubarb ginger bar recipe last spring. Her dough contained fresh ground ginger, but I didn't want the ginger to compete with the tangy rhubarb flavor, so I swapped it for the zest of one lemon. Otherwise, the crust is an exquisite blend of brown sugar, butter, and flour. It is crumbly and sweet and perfect.

I pre-baked it for 15 - 20 minutes. I also went extremely literal on Baked With Love and scraped a heart into it. Cheese ball, party of one, right here.

While the crust was in the oven, I cooked down the rhubarb. This was my first time with rhubarb - finding it in the produce section, prepping it, and cooking it. It has a VERY sharp flavor when you eat it raw - if you've ever eaten a fresh cranberry, it gave me the same acidic, semi-bitter, tart kick. It also had a raw consistency that reminded me of a hybrid of celery (minus the stringies) and apple. I diced it up small and cooked it with the sugar. The rhubarb released this gorgeous bright pink juice and all the pieces softened really quickly.

I used my mini food processor to blend it all smooth, then let it cool for a bit before adding to the whisked eggs. The disgusting overhead fluorescent lighting in my early 1960s apartment cannot fully convey the gorgeous, rich pink color of the filling.

While these baked, J made an impassioned plea that I bake more often. Aromas of butter and juicy red fruit made the apartment smell SO good.

So pretty, right?

My square pan netted 16 squares. I packed 14 up into a Tupperware to bring to Grampy.

Then I realized I was late to pick up my rental car and blew out the door. Luckily, I saved two squares and enjoyed them post-photo shoot when I returned home from my trip.

The texture was 100% like lemon squares - a little gooey, sweet and fruity, and perfectly balanced with the buttery, crumbly crust. To fancy these up in the future, I'll actually invest in some powdered sugar and maybe slice some fresh strawberries on top. And best of all, my Grampy absolutely loved them!

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