Happy Endings

Soon the only rhubarb I will have on hand will be the bags of it that I freeze every year. Not that I'm complaining -- frozen rhubarb makes an excellent ingredient in everything from rhubarb crisp to a tangy rhubarb sauce over pork chops. However, there is something special about being able to use ingredients that have just been picked from your garden in your baking.

Therefore, before my rhubarb recipes start calling for the stuff in the freezer, I thought I'd share one of my favorite dessert recipes that call for it. These bars remind me of the best aspects of a good rhubarb crisp with a delightfully crunchy crust. While this recipe can be made with frozen rhubarb, the texture will not be the same. I like keeping the frozen stuff on hand for crisps, some choice pies and sauces.

I also encourage you to take special pains to test the consistency of the syrupy sauce that's poured over the rhubarb. If you add it when it isn't syrupy enough, you will end up with an equally delicious bar that is next to impossible to remove from the pan! (Yes, I am speaking from experience.)I think the best way to test the syrup is to take a teaspoon and coat it with the syrup. Then remove the spoon from the pan, allow it to cool just a bit and run your finger along the inside. If it feels like pancake or corn syrup, you're ready to remove it from the stove. If not, keep going. As long as you continue whisking the mixture while you cook it, you have a little wiggle room for testing and you don't need to worry too much about it burning. But don't leave it unattended for a minute! Your careful attention will be more than rewarded!

As always, I encourage you to share your recipe ideas and comments. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at . Enjoy!

Rhubarb Bars

  • 1 1/4 c. flour -- I use a 50/50 blend of all purpose and whole wheat
  • 3/4 c. rolled oats -- I use the thick cut variety
  • 1 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. canola oil
  • 4 c. chopped rhubarb --approximately 1/4-1/2 inches long
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar and oil. Mix until it resembles coarse crumbs. Press 1/2 of the mixture into a greased 9-inch pan. Arrange the chopped rhubarb over the crust.

Meanwhile, combine the sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan; whisk to combine. Add the water and vanilla extract and whisk again to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high; reduce the heat to medium and continue whisking the mixture until it reduces by about half and it reaches the consistency of corn syrup and has a clear, but caramel-like coloring. Pour the mixture over the rhubarb and sprinkle the top with the remaining crumb mixture.

Bake the bars for 45 minutes or until the crust is slightly hardened and the caramel mixture is bubbly. Remove to a wire rack and cool completely before serving. These bars are particularly good served with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream!

  • Yields: 9 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour