Rhubarb-Ginger Custard Bars

With rhubarb season in full swing, I have found myself on the hunt for new recipes.  I was lucky enough to run across this fantastic recipe from a new cookbook that I got at The King's English in SLC (fantastic little bookstore in the 15th and 15th area).  I love seasonal cookbooks, it makes it so easy for me to cook with whatever is growing in the garden.  When looking for this rhubarb recipe, I also ran across several other in-season recipes that I can make right along with it.  The unique thing about this book, which is called "Chicken and Egg" is that it focuses on recipes that use either chicken or eggs (go figure!).  Since I am the co-mother to a flock of 60 hens, this book sang to me as I eyed it.  It has a lot of pictures, which to me is essential.  How do I know what something is going to look like if I don't have a picture to reference?  Let's just say cookbooks without pictures are insanely useless to me (once again we have established my lack of sanity). 

If you like lemon bars, this is kind of the in-season equivalent.  There is a very thin (I love the thinness) shortbread crust and then it is topped with thinly sliced rhubarb in a lovely and light eggy kind-of-custard.  This is best eaten the day that you bake it; it gets a fantastic crispy crust on the top of the bars.  Left out, the crust softens a bit, it's still good, just minus the crunch, and we all know how I feel about crunch and texture.  I topped my version with a dusting of powdered sugar, which made it pretty and just a little sweet.  This is a very quick, easy and wonderful way to use your rhubarb.  I think that this will be a standard spring recipe in our house from now on, even my boys loved it!

Adapted from Chicken and Egg by Janice Cole

1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 tbsp Minced Crystallized Ginger
1/8 tsp Salt
1/2 Cup cold unsalted butter, cut up

1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1/3 Cup All-Purpose Flour
3/4 tsp Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
2 Eggs Plus 1 Egg Yolk
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
3 Cups Thinly Sliced Rhubarb (about 1 1/4 pounds)
2 tbsp Minced Crystallized Ginger

Powdered Sugar for Dusting

To Make The Crust:  Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.  Butter or coat an 11 x 17-inch glass baking dish with non-stick spray (I also lined mine with parchment paper...I have an aversion to things sticking).  Stir together the flour, powdered sugar, crystallized ginger, and salt in a medium bowl until blended.  Work the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter, or your fingertips (I chose fingertips...it's more fun) until the butter is evenly distributed and about the size of small blueberries.  Spread the flour mixture over the baking dish and press firmly into the bottom of the pan to form the crust.  Bake for 15-20 minutes (mine was closer to 15) until the crust is just golden on the edges and pale in the center.  Leave the oven on. 

To Make The Filling:  While the crust bakes, whisk the granulated sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.  Whisk together the egg yolk, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth. Whisk in the sugar mixture to the egg mixture until smooth.  Toss in the rhubarb and crystallized ginger and stir until the rhubarb is evenly coated.  

Pour the filling into the warm crust.  Bake for 30-35 minutes (mine was done at 30) until the top is golden brown and crisp.  Cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes.  Cut into 12 bars, dust with powdered sugar and serve warm; or cool completely, cut into bars and serve at room temperature.  Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. 


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