I can tell spring is here and summer is around the corner, because rhubarb has been all over my Instagram feed. I’ve had bakery desserts with the red celery-like stalk, but I had never made anything with it myself. Everyone else is doing it, so why not? The grocery store had a crazy deal on gorgeous juicy strawberries (2 pounds for $3!) last weekend and the rhubarb looked great, so last weekend was a good a time as any to take the plunge! It was meant to be. I also took the opportunity to nibble on a piece of raw rhubarb because I’d only ever had it baked in a dessert. And boy there is a reason why rhubarb isn’t served raw – my mouth puckers just thinking about the bitter tartness!
Admittedly, I bought far too much rhubarb, and ended up doing some experimenting with the extras. I made a rhubarb puree and then combined it with a lemon bar. I think I need to tinker with the recipe some more, because Kevin said it tasted like a Fig Newton. It was not supposed to taste like a Fig Newton. Also, let it be known that I am fairly certain they used rhubarb puree for the Psychomagnotheric Slime in Ghostbusters II. It was bright pink jelly, and I of course forgot to take a photo of it. Fortunately, no psychokinetic events took place during the making of this puree.
But I digress.
Smitten Kitchen’s social media channels have had rhubarb recipes on repeat lately, and the recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Bars in particular caught my eye. I doubled the recipe for a 9″x13″ baking dish, and used less fruit in proportion to the original recipe. You can halve the recipe for an 8″x8″ pan, but the bars will be a bit thinner. But why would you want less of these bars?? The recipe was originally written as a one-bowl recipe, but the OCD in me kicked in and I ended up using a separate mixing bowl so that I could guarantee the crust/crisp would be mixed evenly. Here is the recipe as adapted from Smitten Kitchen.
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- Heaped 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 14 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tsp cornstarch (optional, but helps firm up the filling)
- 2 TBSP lemon juice
- 2 TBSP granulated sugar, divided
- 1 1/2 cups small-diced rhubarb (from about 3 medium stalks)
- 1 1/2 cups small-diced strawberries
- Powdered sugar, for decoration, if desired
- Heat oven to 375 degrees F. For easy removal and clean-up, line bottom and two sides of 9″x13″ baking dish with parchment paper.
- Mix together oats, flour, brown sugar and salt in a large bowl. Pour melted butter over, and stir until clumps form. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the crumble mixture. Press the rest of the crumb mixture evenly in the bottom of the pan.
- Spread half the fruit over the crust. Sprinkle it evenly with cornstarch, then lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar. Spread remaining fruit over this, and top with second tablespoon sugar. Scatter reserved crumbs over fruit and bake bars for 30 to 40 minutes (firmer fruits will take longer), until fruit is bubbly and crisp portion is golden and your kitchen smells amazing.
- Let cool in dish.* Cut into squares and sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving with (obviously) a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream. Store leftovers in fridge.
*Smitten Kitchen recommends cooling in the fridge to make sure the bars are crisp, but using less fruit than the original recipe I think kept the bars from getting soggy. I didn’t need to chill mine!