Tarting it up



Our household eats foods seasonally, and the winter diet of root vegetables gets quite long. So, I am quite excited in the spring to spot clumps of fresh chives, purple asparagus tips and the dark green leaves of rhubarb starting to unfold. Something new to cook!

Botanically speaking, rhubarb is classified as a vegetable, although we Americans use rhubarb more like a fruit in many recipes. Regardless of its category, our family loves the mouth-puckering, tart flavor of rhubarb’s thick, celery-like stalks. Ruby juice and tangy rhubarb sauce, strawberry rhubarb pie, rhubarb maple muffins, rhubarb glazed meat and rhubarb coffee cakes are now on the menu.

The recipe for Rhubarb Spring Tart really elevates this member of the buckwheat family to star status. It’s the type of dessert that would be served in a fancy restaurant. The bottom layer is a rich, buttery, delicate orange shortbread crust topped with pretty pink slices of sweet and tart rhubarb. Next a layer of velvety, soft cheesecake and the final tart layer is tangy, with a hint of orange.

You’ll need about a pound of rhubarb stalks to prepare this recipe, although I’ve baked the tart with a combination of rhubarb and apples before. Don’t let the number of steps deter you. Once the unbaked layers are mixed, the tart is assembled easily.

To successfully remove the whole tart from the pan for serving on a platter, it’s best to use a springform pan and chill the confection for several hours until it sets up completely. The textures and flavors are best when this luscious dessert is around cellar temperature, so remove from the refrigerator and slice an hour or so before serving.

Once you’ve tried Spring Rhubarb Tart, it just might become your favorite.

 

Cheryl Wixson lives and cooks in Stonington. She welcomes food-related questions and comments at [email protected].

 

Rhubarb Spring Tart

Makes 12 servings

 

Crust ingredients:

½ cup butter

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. orange zest

1¼ cups flour

 

Rhubarb filling ingredients:

1 lb. rhubarb sliced into ½ inch chunks

½ cup sugar

¼ cup flour

Soft cheese filling ingredients:

8 oz. soft cheese (cream cheese, goat cheese, soft cow cheese)

½ cup sugar

1 egg

 

Topping ingredients:

2/3 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. orange zest

 

Assemble ingredients and tools. Butter a 9-inch spring form pan. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Add the butter, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon orange zest and 1¼ cups flour to the bowl of a food processor or mixer. Process until the mixture becomes a ball of dough.

Press the dough evenly onto the bottom and the sides of the prepared pan.

Add the sliced rhubarb, ½-cup sugar, and ¼-cup flour to a large bowl and mix well.

Spoon the rhubarb filling mixture over the prepared crust in the pan.

Bake tart at 425 degrees for 10 minutes.

While the crust is baking, prepare the soft cheese filling. Add the soft cheese, sugar and egg to the unwashed bowl of your food processor or mixer, and blend.

Remove the crust from the oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Spread the soft cheese filling over the crust. Return the tart to the oven and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes.

While the tart is baking, prepare the topping. Whisk the sour cream, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 tablespoon orange zest together in a small bowl.

Spread the topping evenly over the tart once removed from the oven. Chill the tart for several hours before serving.

 

Nutritional analysis per serving: 285 calories, 4 grams protein, 32 grams carbohydrates, 16 grams fat, 75 mg. sodium, 1 gram fiber.

 

* This recipe can be adapted to several different size and shape pans. Just be sure the total number of square inches of the pan(s) are approximately 64 square inches.

 

CHERYL’S NOTES:  Don’t let the number of steps and mixing bowls deter you from preparing Rhubarb Spring Tart.  This is really very easy to make, and worth the effort.  Cut the tart into 12 pieces and serve with a piece of fresh mint.  Enjoy!

 

Cheryl Wixson
"Maine Dish" columnist Cheryl Wixson lives and cooks in Stonington. Her passion for organic Maine products led to the creation of her business, Cheryl Wixson's Kitchen. She welcomes food-related questions and comments at [email protected] or www.cherylwixsonskitchen.com.
Cheryl Wixson

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