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Rhubarb Curd Shortbread

It’s official: Rhubarb Curd Shortbread is a winner! These treats took top prize over at Food52’s “your best rhubarb” contest, and they’ll be going into the food52 cookbook! Thanks to you all for voting and visiting!

When it comes to pantry stocking, I’m a minimalist. I keep only those things I need, being careful to clear out those non-essentials, so that I have as much space as possible for vegetables and cheeses in the fridge, ample room in the cabinets for all my pots and pans.

Um, can you hear the snickers and scoffs in the background?

In truth, I couldn’t be less of a minimalist if I tried. I have absolutely no this-not-that discipline; I so readily add to my growing list of “essentials” that my fridge simply feels naked without homemade rum-soaked cherries, Shady Maple Farms maple butter, Huy Fong sriracha and sambal oelek, Aleppo pepper, homemade tamarind pulp, and even a jar of caramelized onions (which I make in bulk and keep on hand — perhaps my wisest decision ever). What has become of my fridge? Whither simplicity?

If you thought this’d be my mea culpa, the one where I clean out the clutter and make some simple toast and butter, think again. The above items, however quirky and specialized, truly have become staples. My toast simply wouldn’t be as good in the morning without a slather of thick maple butter. The rum-soaked cherries made my brunch pound cake a whole different thing, all the more so for its finishing gloss of that cherry-rum syrup. Yes, I’m crazy. But these are the items that bring character to my fridge. They’re what make those “what’s for breakfast?” questions so fun to answer.

And today, I’m adding one more item to this list: rhubarb curd.

Is it totally ridiculous to declare rhubarb curd a new pantry staple? Because I think I’m headed in that direction. If I can keep it around that long, that is.

While lemon curd has long been a favorite here at NDP, rhubarb curd gives lemon a run for its money. Come to think of it, rhubarb curd reminds me of a passionfruit curd I had once (I think it was from Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor). There’s something about it that makes you eat a spoonful, think for a moment, and go back for more. The fact that it’s pink food also doesn’t hurt.

The idea for the rhubarb curd shortbread came from Lara over at Cook and Eat. Her photos might be some of the most gorgeous I’ve ever seen; they instantly had me in drool-mode. I had bought a nice big load of rhubarb over the weekend, and was planning to put half in a crisp and play around with what was left. Those rhubarb bars couldn’t have gone up at a better time.

The shortbread recipe I used is adapted from Karen DeMasco, my new dessert guru. I took her basic shortbread recipe, cut the sugar, and added some spices to complement the rhubarb.

While I ate an embarrassingly large portion of the curd straight out of the bowl, I spooned the rest onto the shortbread, which I generously shared with the lady. Think it’s no biggie that I shared it with one other person? Well, you go make this, and then let me know how you do on the sharing.

Rhubarb Curd Shortbread
curd adapted from Cook and Eat, who adapted it from Ginger Tablet

For the curd:

3/4 pounds rhubarb (about 6 stalks)
4 tablespoons water
1/4 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup plus 1/8 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks

For the shortbread:

12 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon powdered galangal or ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch cloves

Wash rhubarb and trim as little off the ends as possible. Cut rhubarb into 1-inch chunks. In a small saucepan, heat rhubarb, 1/4 sugar, and water on medium. Cook until rhubarb falls apart and there are no whole pieces left, adding water by the tablespoon if rhubarb sticks to the bottom of the pan. At this point, either use an immersion blender to puree the mixture, or (if you’re like me and your blender is otherwise occupied) push the mixture through a strainer. The first method is definitely easier.

Preheat oven to 350. Now, make the shortbread: blend all ingredients in a stand mixer or food processor until combined. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate about 1 hour. Then, either roll into 8×8 square and place square in 8-inch square baking pan, or dump dough into pan and use fingertips to press evenly into pan. Bake 30 minutes, until golden. Let cool on a rack or on the counter.

Add a couple inches of water to the pot of a double boiler and set over medium heat. Put egg yolks, butter, remaining sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in the boil of the double boiler and whisk to combine. When sugar has dissolved completely, remove bowl from heat and add the rhubarb puree by the spoonful, to temper the eggs. When all rhubarb has been added, set bowl over pot; the water should be simmering. Continue stirring the rhubarb mixture; after about 5 minutes, the mixture will be warm and slightly thickened. At this point, remove from heat. Press through a strainer — this will give your curd that smooth, pudding-like texture.

Use an offset spatula to spread curd evenly over shortbread. If you haven’t eaten half the bowl right then and there, you should have enough curd to make a layer about the thickness of the shortbread; I didn’t. Bake another 10 minutes, then remove from oven and cool on rack. Refrigerate about 20 minutes, and you’ll find that they’ve firmed up enough to slice cleanly. Cut into 16 equal bars. Dust with powdered sugar before serving; do your best not to polish them all off in one sitting.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Adrienne April 30, 2010,

    Rhubarb curd? Oh, yes. yes yes yes. Now, to find some rhubarb….

    Oh, and I think the first set of ingredients should call for 1/4 cup sugar, not water, right?

    • rivka April 30, 2010,

      yes indeed! it should be sugar. correction appended.

  • becca i April 30, 2010,

    wait – i’m still stuck at the top of this post on the jar of caramelized onions!!! amazing! Every time i caramelize onions for a recipe and the aroma starts to rise, i think “i should just do that with all the onions i have right now and put it in everything i eat for the rest of the week!” But i never do… maybe cuz i’m unclear how long they will last, but more likely because experimenting is my forte in other areas (wedding ceremonies? new mussaf tunes?), but not in the kitchen….
    Please tell me exactly what your caramelized onion jar routine is and i will follow it to a T. And I will be forever grateful.

    • rivka April 30, 2010,

      I am laughing out loud. I knew someone would ask for my caramelized onion routine! It really is the best thing ever. I caramelize several pounds of onions for an hour or so, until they’re really just melting. I pack them into a jar pretty tightly, and Drizzle an inch or so of olive oil over the top, then stash them in the fridge. I use them by the spoonful, and every few uses, I pack them down again and drizzle some oil over the top. Simple as that.

  • The Runaway Spoon April 30, 2010,

    Well, now I know what I’ll be doing with the rhubarb I just picked up. Rhubarb curd never occured to me – but I feel like I might be on the same path as you. It will go in my unedited fridge as well, next to the rhubarb-vanilla jam, meyer lemon curd, homemade Thai curry past, preserved lemons…

  • Dana May 3, 2010,

    I totally know what you mean about pantry overload. Obviously I need a huge container of fenugreek and a bag of dried ancho chilies. But I loooove rhubarb (just made a crisp/crumble with it, actually), and this sounds amazing! Perfect for a tart food like rhubarb.

  • Small Kitch Cara May 13, 2010,

    Congratulations on your win! Your curd obsession seems to be contagious, too. I’ve only ever made lemon but not I definitely want to try more. Though I tried some pineapple curd the other day, and I think maybe the obsession ends there…

  • af @ .the food. June 2, 2010,

    just made your rhubarb curd last night and it couldn’t have turned out better!
    my only addition was 1 teaspoon of vanilla, but that is only because i am an addict.

    • rivka June 3, 2010,

      so glad you liked it!

  • bloomie June 18, 2010,


    I made this and while I really liked the final outcome (although it ended up tasting more lemony than rhubarb) I have some comments.

    It was a long recipe and I found the instructions often lacking. For instance I ended up chilling the dough overnight b/c the recipe took a long time and usually when you chill for an hour, it’s ok to chill for a few extra hours, but then it was nearly impossible to use the next day. I will say, that was fully my mistake, and you might want to note that you should not chill it much longer than an hour.

    Also I found the directions confusing as to whether or not you removed the curd from the heat while adding the rhubarb. The recipe made me think you may have done that, because you say when you’re done adding the rhubarb to set the bowl over the pot.

    It was delicious in the end, it just took a looong time to make and I was often confused.

    • rivka June 20, 2010,

      Hi Bloomie, Thanks for your comment. Glad you enjoyed the shortbread, and thanks for your comments. You’re right that if you chill the dough for longer than an hour, it will start to harden too much — sorry not to have said that outright. Also, sorry I didn’t explicitly say to remove the bowl from the heat before adding the rhubarb; I’ve added that. Thanks again!

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