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rhubarb curd shortbread

June 29, 2012

Last weekend, we came home with rhubarb, sweet onions, dill, eggs, rhubarb, baby beets, kale and more rhubarb.

More Rhubarb?!

Yes. More!

What can I say? It’s the tail end of a particularly bleak rhubarb season and I’m finding myself hoarding. I still have at least 5 recipes on my new rhubarb tastes-to-try list for this season. They won’t all make the cut, however. (don’t worry rhubarb prosecco jelly, you are on the short list. Everyone else may lose out to our need to restock the liquor cabinet with rhubarb cordial). As for the current batch of ruby goodness… I started in on another batch of juice yesterday after discovering the bliss of rhubarb curd (more on that in a minute). Special thanks goes out to my mom, again, for that juice recipe. Not only is it the most enduring taste of my childhood come to life (no kool-aid for us), but I love that the sugar is added AFTER cooking the rhubarb. I have seen countless variations on the rhubarb juice concentrate theme, but they all begin with cooking down the rhubarb with a set amount of sugar. That her recipe accounts for the differences in sweet factor you get across varieties, as well as whatever random quantities of rhubarb you have on any given day, is just genius.

Now what’s that I said about rhubarb curd? Imagine lemon curd (not cheese curbs), but have rhubarb bring the tart. I’m not a huge lemon curd fan, but I just couldn’t resist a recipe that paired a flaky scotch-type shortbread with a tangy rhubarb topping. If you have any rhubarb left at all, I imPLORE you: Make. The. Rhubarb. Curd. Double boilers and talk of tempering eggs may be scary, but I swear it isn’t. Though I’ve watched mom make this sort of thing countless times, it was a first for me. It must be a forgiving recipe because I played fast and loose with technique and it turned out great.

More importantly, it was off the charts on the deliciousness sclae. If not for the fact that I’d been baking while EJ was away and wouldn’t have had time to clean the evidence dirty pans I’d created, I would have eaten that entire bowl of rhubarb curd with a spoon. As it was, I may or may not have tried to lick the sieve. (What?! I dare you to let a drop of it get rinsed down the drain go to waste)

A note about baking pans… The recipe calls for an 8″ square pan. Now, we have more than our fair share of bakeware. And yet… Not a single 8″ square pan to be found in the house. Given that our poor kitchen cabinets can’t possibly hold one more pan, I was determined to figure out a solution that didn’t have me trekking down the street to Cooks of Crocus Hill. again.

Enter a workhorse 9″ springform pan accompanied by a formal, blanket apology to all of my many math teachers. You’re right. I totally use math. Almost every day in fact. And it was super helpful to know how to compare the area in the 8″ square vs a 9″ round. (in case anyone is dying to know: for the circle, area =  pi * radius squared = 3.14 * 4.5² = 63.585. for the square, area = 8² = 64. Close enough in my book to sub in that 9″ springform pan for the nonexistent 8″ square.

recipe after the jump…

rhubarb curd shortbread

adapted from the amazing Food 52’s recipe 

for the rhubarb curd:

step 1

  • 3/4 pounds rhubarb, diced (about 3 cups)
  • 4 -6 Tbsp water
  • 4 Tbsp sugar
step 2
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 C plus 1/8 C sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp butter

for the spiced shortbread:

  • 12 Tbsp butter (room temp)
  • 4 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 C flour
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cloves

Preheat oven to 350°

Using the paddle attachment & your trusty stand mixer, blend all the shortbread ingredients until they are thoroughly combined. Wrap in plastic wrap, then chill for about an hour.

Put rhubarb, 4 Tbsp water and 4 Tbsp sugar in a small saucepan. Stirring often, heat over medium until the rhubarb is falling apart, with no whole pieces left (add water 1 Tbsp at a time to make sure rhubarb mixture doesn’t stick to the pan). When the rhubarb mixture is completely cooked out, take off heat, puree with an immersion blender and set aside.

The next step of the recipe calls for a double boiler, but don’t let not having one stop you. I used a medium pot with a few inches of water & a glass casserole dish for the curd making, and it turned out fine. (as long as your bowl is heat safe, and doesn’t touch the water you should be good to go) Put a few inches of water over to boil. When the water boils, reduce heat to simmer, and in the bowl, add the farm freshest egg yolks you can get your hands on along with the other ‘step 2’ ingredients and whisk. When the sugar has completely dissolved, slowly add in the rhubarb mixture (one spoonful at a time). Keep whisking the mixture until it begins to thicken (4 – 6 minutes).

[To sieve or not to sieve? At this point, the recipe calls for passing the mixture through a sieve to get a pudding-y texture. I’ll be honest. I started in with the sieve and quickly gave up. The texture of the resulting curd was every bit as silky smooth as I would have hoped for. That said,  I was obsessive about the whisking, and the adding rhubarb very little bit by very little bit, so perhaps that helped. The one thing I know for sure is that relieving a sieve of the curd it’s holding hostage is not recommended. It isn’t at all like licking the beaters of a mixer.]

Press the chilled shortbread dough into your 9″ round (or 8″ square), trying to get it as even as possible. Bake for 30 minutes.

[I’m sure I made things out of order because I didn’t even put the shortbread in the oven until the curd was completely made. To ensure I didn’t somehow end up with a skin on the curd before I used it, I covered it with plastic wrap while the shortbread was in the oven. I have no idea if this was necessary or not. Next time, I think I’ll bake the shortbread before starting in on making the curd.]

Spread the rhubarb curd onto the baked shortbread and put back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

For easiest cutting, cool on a rack & refrigerate for 20 minutes before slicing into this most amazing treat. [We set a timer. 20 minutes seemed like a very. very. long time to wait.]

If’ you’re feeling generous, share a few wedges with your neighbor (Hi Kim!).

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 3, 2012 2:46 pm

    Wow, does this recipe look like a winner. Filing it away until next year . . .

    • July 5, 2012 11:03 am

      You won’t be disappointed Gretchen; it has completely redefined how I feel about “curd.” I’m glad I have some rhubarb stashed in the freezer so we can have it again soon!

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