This week is a “skipped” week for our CSA, as we’ve had a bit of a delayed growing season around here. (Ahhh, the Polar Vortex…) So far this week, I’ve bought a bag of romaine lettuce from the grocery store (the whole head kind) and threw it away, as it was a wilted, soggy mess. I need some fresh greens! We managed to eat everything in our half share except for a bit of mustard greens and some radishes. Another time, I will post about the very simple and amazingly delicious scallion and pine nut crusted chicken we had for last night’s dinner.
From this week’s share of veggies, I was most excited to use the rhubarb, since I could use it to make something sweet and tasty – and my husband raved about how much he liked eating strawberry-rhubarb desserts as a child. Because my friend and I split the share, I didn’t have enough to make a pie; the internet seemed to imply that this was the most popular use. I’m also not sure I should make a whole pie for just my husband and I (although, I am confident we could eat the whole thing before it spoiled!). So after staring at mouth watering photos of rhubarb-based desserts, I decided to make strawberry rhubarb shortcakes. I actually found only one recipe that combined strawberry and rhubarb in a shortcake, but it used the berry-rhubarb mixture as a filling in an actual cake. I prefer shortcakes that are more like biscuits, so I ended up using a strawberry shortcake recipe, then modifying it to include the rhubarb.
I’d never made anything with rhubarb before (or actually seen rhubarb, that I can recall), so I followed the recipe for the strawberry rhubarb cake filling. Unfortunately, the rhubarb turned into a tough, sticky mess, that would, in no way, mix with the strawberry mixture. So, for the first go-round, we had strawberry
This is the rhubarb puree; it wasn’t budging from the cooling dish:
The shortcakes turned out beautifully both times. They were the perfect amount of sweet, and the cream and butter gave them that melt-in-your-mouth texture that I was craving. (I made these on our anniversary, so I used a heart cut-out. It was that or the rim of a glass!) The first time, I made them a bit thinner than the recipe, unintentionally, so I wasn’t able to put the berries inside the shortcakes. Although this wasn’t a problem for us, the second time I made the shortcakes, I made them thicker and was able to divide them in half to fill them with berries and rhubarb.
After my first try with cooking the rhubarb failed, I looked up all kinds of recipes that incorporated rhubarb. I decided to go with the most simple (and common) way to cook it – mix the rhubarb with sugar and cook it over medium to medium-low heat. I stirred the mixture frequently and took it off the heat once the rhubarb was mostly broken down – rather than waiting until it all turned into a puree. It was the texture of a soft jam, even after cooling and mixed nicely with fresh sliced strawberries. I didn’t mess with the berries, since they were delicious on their own, and I felt that adding sugar and lemon juice would only detract from their freshness.
I added a generous dollop of whipped cream (not fresh, because it was 9pm, and we were ready for some dessert!), and, YUM, this is a perfectly sweet, tart, and fresh dessert.
I can’t think of anything more tasty for the start of summer… although, my friend tried her rhubarb in a strawberry rhubarb cookie bar recipe and says it was also amazing. Here’s hoping for more rhubarb in our box next week!
Strawberry Rhubarb Shortcakes
(Based on Smitten Kitchen’s Strawberry Shortcakes)
If I had a lot more rhubarb, I’d be willing to give rhubarb shortcakes a try, but the mixture of strawberries and rhubarb is as perfect as my husband said it would be!
For the shortcakes:
1/2 cup + 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 Tablespoon + 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 hard-boiled egg yolk
3 Tablespoons cold (I used unsalted) butter, cut into small cubes
1/3 cup + 1/2 Tablespoon heavy cream
Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and egg yolk in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Then, add the butter and pulse until mixed (it will look like course sand). Then add the 1/3 cup heavy cream and pulse until the dough comes together. Pull the dough out of the food processor and place it on a floured surface. Work the dough gently a couple of times, then press it out with your hands into a rough circle, about 1 inch thick. Use a cookie cutter, or a glass rim, to cut out the biscuits. I gathered up the remaining dough, pressed it out again and got a couple more biscuits. (Why should any of this goodness go to waste??)
Place the cut out shortcakes on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate the dough for 20 minutes or up to 2 hours.
If you’re doing everything at once, now is a good time to begin cooking your rhubarb!
Before baking, gently brush the tops with a bit of heavy cream and sprinkle a little bit of sugar.
Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through, to ensure even baking. Bake until risen and a light golden brown color.
For the filling:
3 stalks of rhubarb, chopped into 1 inch pieces
not-quite 1/4 cup white sugar
2/3 (or more or less) of a pound of sliced strawberries
Put the chopped rhubarb and sugar in a small saucepan over medium to medium-low heat. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the rhubarb is mostly broken down into a thick puree. Remove from the heat and let it cool. Fold in the sliced strawberries.
Let the shortcakes cool slightly, then slice in half. Spoon in the strawberry-rhubarb filling, then replace the shortcake top. Serve immediately, with a (generous) dollop of whipped cream!