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Enjoy the natural flavor of rhubarb

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Rhubarb Ginger Shortbread

For the jam

1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup light granulated sugar

1/4 granulated sugar

3/4 tsp ground ginger

1 tb lemon zest

1/2 cup water

2 tb vanilla extract

For the shortbread

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

4 large egg yolks

2 cups granulated sugar

1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely choppedConfectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions

Make the jam by combining rhubarb, sugars, ground ginger, lemon zest and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low heat, cook, stirring often, until rhubarb softens and forms a soft mass, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a shallow bowl and let cool. Stir in vanilla. Can be made ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container. If refrigerated, allow to return to room temperature before using.

Make the shortbread by whisking together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on high speed until pale and fluffy. Add egg yolks and sugar and beat until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is light. Reduce mixer speed to low, and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until the ingredients are incorporated.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and cut into two pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in freezer until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove one ball of dough from freezer and, using the large holes on a box grater, grate the dough into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Pat the dough gently just to get it into the corners (you don’t want to press it down), and spread with the rhubarb jam. Grate the remaining dough over the jam, and press it lightly to distribute it evenly. Sprinkle crystallized ginger evenly over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 40 minutes. Dust with confectioners’ sugar as soon as it is removed from oven. Cool on a wire rack.

When cool, cut shortbread into squares and serve.

Adapted from Rhubarb Shortbread from “Baking
with Julia” by Julia Child and Dorie Greenspan

Updated: May 18, 2013 6:11AM



Rhubarb has an unlucky reputation of always playing sidekick to strawberry. Spring after spring, the ruby red stalks pop up in the haze of April showers, get plucked and diced, and then —more often than not — thrown into a pie or crumble with hotshot strawberry.

“They’re made for each other,” enthusiasts of the now famous duo might say, comparing them to other working marriages, like peanut butter and jelly, coconut and pineapple, or champagne and strawberries.

But in this pairing, the rhubarb is almost always upstaged by the strawberry. Sour as it is, it’s strange that rhubarb is an almost undesirable flavor when it plays solo. Sweetened, it’s pungent and has such an interesting, robust taste. And who’s to say that rhubarb can’t be paired with other flavors?

If you are an enthusiast of rhubarb’s natural flavor, you’ll want to keep your recipes pure and unscathed by too many dominant flavors.

Mild ingredients make lovely additions to rhubarb: vanilla, a wisp of lemon zest, even caramelized brown sugar enhance its natural, lovely flavor. And one flavor, that isn’t often associated with rhubarb, is perhaps its greatest complement of all. Strong on its own, just a dusting of ginger provides enough spice for the otherwise sour rhubarb.

This recipe for ginger rhubarb shortbread combines these two flavors, each popping up in the bar cookie in very distinct ways—ginger adds heat to a homemade rhubarb jam and reappears in crystallized form as a topping, while the rhubarb is present with all of its bursts of sweet and sour.

During the cooler, rainy days of April, this buttery shortbread makes a nice treat. Between the rich layers of the shortbread, the flavor of spring peers out in a thick rhubarb jam.



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