Rhubarb and Custard over Shortbread

As a kid growing up on a farm in rural Wisconsin, I used to go out back during the summer and pick wild rhubarb for my mom’s amazing pies. So it came as a shock to me that no one I invited over for dessert, besides my roommate, had ever tried the stuff before. This is a great dessert for entertaining, as it only requires about 10-15 minutes of active cook time. And, if the people you’re serving ask “what is rhubarb,” you can reply with a mischievous grin.

Just a few stalks of delicious, ruby red rhubarb.

Just a few stalks of delicious, ruby red rhubarb.

Everyone agreed that I should make this again, and often.

1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2/3 cup corn starch
1/4 cup almond meal (optional)

2 lbs rhubarb
2 oranges (juice and zest)
2 Tbs fresh ginger (approx., finely grated or chopped)
White wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon)
Red food coloring (optional)

I cheated. I didn’t make it fresh. It wasn’t even really custard. It was French Vanilla ice cream. Custard sounds more impressive though doesn’t it?

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Use a little bit of the butter to grease an 8 inch round cake pan.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and almond meal. Mix the contents of both bowls together. Using a pastry cutter (also known as a pastry blender) is the proper way to do it, but mine went missing so I used my hands (and Tamara helped with hers as well) and it turned out just fine. Work in the corn starch next, and continue to mix until you have a crumbly dough. Evenly press the dough into your greased cake pan. Some people recommend rolling the dough and then putting it in the pan, which is correct, but this is one less step, and it still turned out great. If you use the pastry cutter and roll out the dough, you’ll end up with a flakier shortbread. Put the pan in the oven and let bake for 50-60 minutes. It’s done when it’s golden brown.

Prep the rhubarb while the shortbread is baking. Wash rhubarb stalks to remove any lingering dirt. Chop the stalks across the grain into 1/2 inch pieces and place in a baking dishes. Remove the zest from the 2 oranges with the fine side of a grater, or a zesting tool and place in a bowl. Squeeze the juice from the oranges into the same bowl, and mix in the 4 tablespoons of sugar. Discard the skin from the ginger and then grate or finely chop that too, adding it to the bowl. Add about a quarter cup of whatever wine you’ll be serving with the dish. I chose a Cabernet Sauvignon since it has enough kick to go toe to toe with the bold rhubarb flavors. I didn’t, but if you’d like to retain the red, rhubarb color, then add a few drops of red food coloring to the mix as well. It makes for a better presentation. Whisk all of this together and then pour over the rhubarb in the baking dish. Cover the baking dish with tin foil.

The shortbread needs to cool before you can serve it, so once it’s done, take it out and turn the oven up to 400 degrees and bake the rhubarb for about 20 minutes.

Um, nothing. You bought it in some form of carton right? So, I guess just keep it in the freezer until you’re ready to scoop it out. : )

Serve the rhubarb, hot, over the shortbread, with a scoop of ice cream on top.

I really wanted to make homemade custard, but I liked how the cold ice cream played off the hot rhubarb, so, until I make frozen custard, I’m sticking with ice cream.

Next time, I’ll try chopping the rhubarb with the grain to see how that turns out.

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2 Comments on “Rhubarb and Custard over Shortbread”

  1. missmarymary Says:

    how funny – we just go pick rhubarb from the back garden when we want crumble or compote.

    i would like to be invited over for the next batch, plz.

  2. maggie Says:

    mmm, rhubarb is so delicious. i just might have to try this out.

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