Since this recipe had a few steps that could be prepared in advance, I made the rhubarb jam a mini project for Saturday. Even in the green belt that is Marin County, my favorite grocer did not have fresh rhubarb. A subsequent trip to the San Rafael Whole Foods, and I had my fresh rhubarb. Getting real in Whole Foods parking lot, I got my 8 items for $60 and split; No quinoa, nor a decent pinot noir for under twenty.
This was my first time cooking with fresh rhubarb. As it reminded me of celery, I thought to remove the outer stringy skin. I lost the reddish color, though I remedied that with a single drop of super red gel paste. I also ended up draining close to 1/4 cup of liquid from the jam.
The dough I made on Monday, using a hand mixer since I was only making a half-recipe. It didn’t quite come together, remaining as coarse crumbs. I didn’t want to overwork it, figuring since it was already in pieces I could skip the grating step.
I put about half in the bottom of a 9 inch square pan, and baked it on the top oven rack for close to 15 minutes.
Then I spread my room temperature jam over the first layer. The jam didn’t go very far; I would probably increase the amount of jam by half if I were to make this one again. It then returned to the oven for about 35 minutes. It was starting to brown up nicely
After dusting the top with powdered sugar and letting it cool, I cut up two pieces and plated them. I expected the crumbly dough to sort of melt together. When it didn’t I thought the bars might easily fall apart. Thankfully they didn’t, though I don’t know I’d want to eat this one out of hand.
Even with a fifteen minute head start in the oven, the bottom layer was a little moist… not underdone, but more reminiscent of a lemon bar than shortbread. Still the overall result was pretty good. Since the top stayed crumbly, it had a nice craggy, somewhat crunchy texture. As the shortbread is sweet, it’s definitely better that the jam is tart. It would be interesting to try this recipe again on a stand mixer, and see how it differs with the dough thoroughly combined. It might also be fun to combine another tart fruit with the rhubarb. I saw a rhubarb-raspberry preserves, which was my backup plan had I not obtained fresh rhubarb.
UPDATE: After reading through the one of our recipe hosts’ posts, I realized I only used half of the butter called for in the recipe. That would certainly explain why the dough stayed crumbly. However, I can attest that the dessert was still quite tasty. Maybe it even qualifies as “Low Fat” — ha.