Sweet and Tart Shortcakes

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 rhubarb shortcake.

This is the rhubarb puree; it wasn’t budging from the cooling dish:

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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.

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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.

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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

Serves 3-4

(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!

 

 

 

 

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