I'll give it to you though, those long, red and green stalks that highly resemble celery, can be quite intimidating. Like really, what do you do with them?! Isn't it technically a vegetable? Why yes, yes it is.
My mom told me that when she was younger, they (as in her friends and siblings I suppose...) would eat rhubarb right out of the ground! Okay, gross. My boyfriend and I decided to taste a piece of raw rhubarb the very first time I used it for baking and mmm, let's just say the chewy glob ended up in the sink. I know some of you may beg to differ, but raw rhubarb is just plain nasty. I honestly can not imagine picking a stalk and enjoy chomping on it. But people were different back in those days (wink, wink, mom!)
So you can see that I don't recommend taste testing raw rhubarb [even though you should probably do it at least once, you know, for culinary purposes]. But, I do recommend cooking it down with brown sugar and strawberries and then pairing it with a crunchy pecan shortbread crust and luscious cream cheese filling. Oh yeah, and a little topping of whipped cream.
But where would you get such a fabulous treat?! Ha, well wouldn't you know I just happen to have that recipe for you right here! And it's easy enough that you can make it all on your own [or have someone else do the work for you, your choice]. And remember that very large bundle of rhubarb I snagged at the Omaha Farmer's Market last weekend (see above)? Yep, here's where that bundle was put to use. I told you I had big plans for it.
Enter: Strawberry-Rhubarb & Cream Bars...
...and my baking buddies: Tilly and Leo .
Strawberry-Rhubarb & Cream Bars
Adapted from Taste of Home
2 c. all purpose flour
1 c. chopped pecans
1 c. butter, melted
1/4 c. sugar
1 c. light brown sugar, packed
3 tbsp. cornstarch
3 tbsp. corn syrup
3-1/2 c. chopped fresh rhubarb
2 c. sliced strawberries
Cream Cheese Filling:
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 c. powdered sugar
1-3/4 c. heavy whipping cream, whipped
1. Heat oven to 350°F. In small bowl, combine flour, pecans, butter and sugar.
2. Press into greased 13x9-inch pan. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.
3. In large saucepan, combine brown sugar, cornstarch and corn syrup. Stir in rhubarb until combined. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring often. Reduce heat; cook and stir 4 to 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; cool. Stir in strawberries.
This is where you do as I say, not as I do. I accidentally tossed in the strawberries too early, so I had to pick them out as best I could.
4. In large bowl, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth.
5. Fold in 1 cup whipped cream. Spread evenly over cooled crust.
6. Top with rhubarb mixture. Spread with remaining whipped cream. Refrigerate 3 to 4 hours before serving.
Yield: 24 bars
- I've made these bars a couple times, with each try adjusting the amount of rhubarb and strawberries I use. This last time, I used 3 cups of both strawberries and rhubarb but it turned out a little more runny than I would have liked. So for this post, I put up the original amount [which I prefer] but feel free to adjust the amounts according to your preference for rhubarb or strawberries.
- The original recipe did not call for any corn syrup, but I found that when I combined the rhubarb, brown sugar, and corn starch together, there wasn't any liquid to bring to a boil! What the...so I added in some corn syrup for the moisture. I would also suggest adding some strawberries to the mixture if you're having a difficult time with this step, since the brown sugar will make the strawberries sweat and you'll get a good amount of juices.