Rhubarb is one of those ingredients that had, until recently, eluded me. I’d see it on Tastespotting in galettes, pies and crumbles, yet when I passed it in the grocery store and saw its red celery-like stalks resting ignored near the turnip and lettuce section, I didn’t feel inspired enough to grab some and work with it.
Then, one day, I saw this recipe, and I knew it was time. I had been looking for a dessert that used only rhubarb instead of, say, strawberry and rhubarb together, because I wanted to really taste it in its true dessert form without other flavors mixing in. I was intimidated at first and wondered how I’d get those red shoots into a dessert but it turns out that the rhubarb was surprisingly easy to use and really stood up for itself throughout the baking process.
If you decide to taste raw rhubarb, the flavor will make your eyes wince and lips purse from its bitterness. Rhubarb isn’t inherently sweet and it doesn’t look particularly appetizing, either. Looking past these flaws, the wonderful thing about rhubarb is that once you add a few simple ingredients to it (sugar, for example), and heat it through, the bitterness is lost and what you’re left with is pieces of rhubarb which fall apart with each bite and a flavor that mixes sweetness and sourness and that has a complexity that most desserts don’t have. In other words, it’s very rich and very good, and when it’s covered in a caramel like glaze and topped with butter, oats and brown sugar and then put in the oven for 45 minutes, the result is amazing.
And, hey! This recipe is just in time for the Fourth of July, in case you needed any dessert inspiration! I think it would be great with some whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Speaking of, what will your Independence Day look like? I’ll be on Long Island where my parents are having their annual 4th of July barbecue. Whether you’re at a barbecue, too, or kicking it on a blanket at the Charles River while eating jello shots out of Tupperware (memories..), I hope your Independence Day is warm, relaxing and full of food, family, and all that good stuff!