The other weekend, I had the pleasure of going to Rhode Island with my family. One morning, we walked into town — an intersection with an ice cream stand, corner store, sandwich shop, and town green. That day on the green, vendors were setting up to sell arts and crafts, produce, and knick knacks.
As I was browsing, huge ruby stalks lay on a nearby table calling my name. They were the reddest stalks of rhubarb I had ever seen. I just had to get them. So I grabbed the two biggest stalks on the table and pulled out my wallet. I spent all weekend dreaming up different rhubarb concoctions and settled on these Rhubarb Bars. The cream cheese shortbread crust tastes more like a cookie than a shortbread, and provides a rich base for the light curd above. The curd is bright, citrusy, and sweet. The rhubarb shines through, its springy taste melting on your tongue.
They’re the perfect size for snacking, but beware. My step-dad ate about 10 in two days 🙂
Tips for making rhubarb bars
Use room temperature ingredients — When making the cream cheese shortbread base, you need to let the butter and cream cheese come to room temperature before creaming them together. This will make the shortbread crust easier to mix and will give it a much better texture.
Opt for thinner, red rhubarb stalks — When choosing your rhubarb from the store or farmers market, go for the stalks that are mostly red and thinner. These stalks will be sweeter than the thick green ones.
Chill the rhubarb bars — Just like lemon bars, these rhubarb bars need to cool completely in the fridge before you can cut into them. These bars need time to set properly, sorry to make you wait!
How to store rhubarb bars
These rhubarb bars should be kept in the fridge in a sealed container. They should last up to a week if stored this way! If you plan on serving these rhubarb bars at a party, I recommend putting the serving platter on top of a baking pan filled with ice to keep these bars as cool as possible (if you’re serving these outside, at least).
Let me know if you have any questions about making these tangy rhubarb bars!Print
For the rhubarb puree
- 3 cups chopped rhubarb
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
For the cream cheese shortbread
- 5 oz low-fat cream cheese
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/3 cups flour
For the rhubarb curd
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup rhubarb puree
- red dye
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup flour
- In a medium pot, combine chopped rhubarb, sugar, and water and heat over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, or until the rhubarb is completely broken down. Transfer mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, cream the butter, cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla extract until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Turn mixer to low speed and incorporate flour.
- Press dough firmly onto the bottom of the baking dish, spreading evenly to the edges. Bake for 15 minutes.
- While the shortbread is cooking, make the rhubarb curd! In a large bowl, whisk all ingredients except for the flour. Use as much red dye as you’d like, and remember that the color will fade a bit during cooking. Once mixed, whisk in the flour.
- Pour the rhubarb curd on top of the cream cheese shortbread, then bake for an additional 20 minutes to set the rhubarb.
- Cool bars for at least 4 hours in fridge, then cut and top with powdered sugar!