I've been wanting to try rhubarb, but it has been elusive in our markets this summer. I finally found some a few weeks ago, so I rinsed it off, chopped it into pieces and froze it. Then I looked for a good recipe to make with it. This recipe has been reviewed highly all over the place so I decided to try it. It's similar to the Mandarin Cream Delight we love so much in that it has a shortbread base, a whipped cream topping, and a fruity middle, although these rhubarb bars are baked and the mandarin squares are not.
It was very easy and even looked pretty. I was afraid of the custard because sometimes custardy things taste too "eggy" to me, but it was perfect. We both really enjoyed these, and discovered we really enjoy rhubarb. We would make these again.
Rhubarb Custard Bars
Cooking Light, 5/02
Rhubarb, which looks like crimson celery, has a short season so stock up while you can. It freezes beautifully; just store the stalks in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. You can use fresh or frozen rhubarb for this recipe. We actually preferred unthawed frozen rhubarb.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk
3 large eggs
5 cups (1/2-inch) sliced fresh or frozen rhubarb (unthawed)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces) block-style fat-free cream cheese
1/2 cup (4 ounces) block-style 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed
Mint sprigs (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°.
To prepare crust, lightly spoon 1 1/2 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt in a bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Press mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
To prepare filling, lightly spoon 1/3 cup flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine 1/3 cup flour and 1 1/2 cups sugar in a large bowl; add milk and eggs, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Stir in rhubarb. Pour rhubarb mixture over crust. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until set. Cool to room temperature.
To prepare topping, place 1/2 cup sugar, cheeses, and vanilla in a bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Gently fold in whipped topping; spread evenly over baked custard. Cover and chill at least 1 hour. Garnish with mint sprigs, if desired.
Yield: 36 servings