I have been meaning to make this for some time now, ever since rhubarb showed up at the grocery store back in March or April. But I never got around to it and never got around to it. I noticed over the past few weeks the rhubarb selection is getting smaller and smaller so I thought I’d better hurry up and get it done.
I made the crust, MSBH’s Cream Cheese Tart Dough, the day before. It’s a simple dough and comes together in less than 10 minutes, if that. The food processor cuts the butter and cream cheese into the dry ingredients until crumbly.
This is poured out onto a piece of plastic wrap and you use the plastic wrap to bring the dough crumbs together into a cohesive square of dough.
This chilled in the fridge overnight. It’s important to chill it in square form, as the tart itself is baked in a square tart pan. This make rolling it out into the shape of a square so much easier.
The rolled-out dough is placed in the tart pan, fitted and trimmed, and pricked with a fork all over to prevent air bubbles. It then goes in the freezer before being blind baked.
My dough was very crumbly throughout the process and even cracked and separated in spots during baking. This was not a big deal in the end, but I might process it a little longer in the food processor next time. Just a tiny bit longer to bring it together more.
I do love rhubarb – growing up in Nebraska, I’d eat huge fat stalks of it as a kid, fresh from the ground, maybe dipped in sugar. It grew everywhere there, like a weed.
The last few bits of rhubarb available at the grocery this week left a lot to be desired, but I didn’t want to risk having to wait until next spring to tackle this recipe. I ended up cutting away a lot of these stalks and throwing them out.
The rhubarb is not cooked in any real way, but it is steeped in a hot syrup made from water, sugar, and vanilla bean. The recipe suggests you cut up a beet and cook it with the other syrup ingredients in order to imbue the rhubarb with a darker rose color while they are steeping.
This is all brought to a boil and allowed to cook until the sugar is completely dissolved. The mixture is removed from the heat and the rhubarb pieces are added. They steep, covered, for about 20 minutes. This sweetens and softens the rhubarb while also giving them a rosy hue.
The rhubarb is removed with a slotted spoon and allowed to cool on paper towels. In the meantime, some of the syrup is brought to a boil and reduced further to eventually be drizzled on top of the finished tart.
The baked crust is spread with a layer of filling made from cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, and lemon zest.
On top of that go the cooled rhubarb pieces. I tried to put the bigger, less-rose-colored pieces on the bottom and the prettier, rosier pieces on top.
Then the rhubarb is drizzled with the reduced syrup (cooled first, of course).
The entire tart is kept cool until serving, at which point I finally removed the tart pan. Everything stayed together nicely. Slicing into individual portions was a little tricky, as the rhubarb doesn’t slice along with the rest of the tart. I ended up having to rearrange the pieces on top of each individual piece.
I really liked this – the crust is like a sugar cookie, the tangy, lemony cream cheese filling complements the sweet-tart syrup-coated rhubarb so well. It’s a delicious and sophisticated summer dessert.
A few notes:
- If the dough is crumbly as your trying to form it into a square with the plastic wrap, try processing it a few more pulses in the food processor to combine. I think this will pay off in the end.
- Cut the rhubarb in to pieces smaller than the 2″ the MSBH instructs you to do. They look stunning on the whole tart, but they are impossible to slice through when portioning the tart and are just as impossible to cut through while eating. My friends and I would just pop the whole 2″ piece in our mouth. I suppose you could give steak knives to people, but who wants to do that during a dessert course?
- You’ll have plenty of extra syrup – go ahead and reduce it all and use the extra for drinks and ice cream topping. It’s very sweet and vanilla-y but with a real hint of rhubarb. We made all kinds of cocktails with it – it makes a wonderful addition to daiquiris!