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Rhubarb Dream Bars

Posted by Denise on July 7, 2012

rhubarb dream bars on bright plate
A buttery shortbread crust supports the firm rhubarb custard topping.

Every year, we search for rhubarb, those tart red stems that grow in more northern climes. Rhubarb is a food that you either love or hate. We love it but since it doesn’t grow this far south, it is very hard to find. Glenn spotted a few stalks at Whole Foods about a month ago, but when we went back a few minutes later to pick some up, they were all gone. Darn! That was the only sighting of rhubarb we had in Florida this year, unfortunately.

All was not lost however. A couple of weeks ago, my employer sent me to Baltimore to attend a week-long training session for work. I opted to drive rather than fly so that Glenn and I could make it into a short vacation. The weekend before, we left Florida and drove up to Baltimore, arriving in time to start my training on Monday. On the way, we stopped at local restaurants to try some new interesting foods that we will be bringing to you later on.

During the times I was in training sessions, Glenn busied himself getting to know the area around the hotel, relaxing, planning the rest of our trip and helping me prepare for the next day. After the week’s training, we detoured to Pennsylvania for a night to enjoy the Lancaster area, then traveled back through Virginia to have a very short but wonderful visit with my Aunt Bev and Uncle Frank. After we left them, we made another detour to make sure we passed through Georgia so we could stop at our favorite peach grower and get our annual peach fix.

While we were in Pennsylvania, we found some beautiful Amish-grown vine-ripened tomatoes. Yum! I don’t know what it is about Florida soils, but we grow beautiful tomatoes that don’t have much flavor. It’s really disappointing. One of the cool things about some of the Amish farms is that they put a display of fresh produce out by the roadside with a small sign giving prices and a small box for the money. Operating on the Honor System, they trust that everyone will be honest and pay for their produce. We stopped at one of the roadside stands and bought a small batch of gorgeous red tomatoes for $3, stuffing the money in the small money box. I hope everyone is trustworthy enough to keep the system going always. It is so refreshing to see goodness and trust in action.

Amish honor system 

The roadside cart with the Honor System cash box (Cool Whip container) where we purchased the wonderful tomatoes.


While in the Lancaster area, we found rhubarb! We bought a huge batch and as soon as we got back home, I had to try a recipe using it. The rest we cut up and froze for later use. I dug through recipes that I got from Mom and found this recipe for Rhubarb Dream Bars that I had tagged to try.

Rhubarb Dream Bars are made with a buttery shortbread crust and topped with a thick rhubarb-filled custard. Mildly sweet, these bars allow the tart rhubarb flavor to shine through. Even some of our friends who had reservations about rhubarb loved these. Depending on the juiciness of the rhubarb, the filling may be a little gooey, so napkins are needed when eating these. Make sure you dice the rhubarb up into small enough pieces so they will cook through and get tender, since thicker rhubarb stalks tend to be fibrous.



Rhubarb Dream Bars




 rhubarb dream bars ingredients


Makes 12 servings



For the Crust:


cup butter


cup 10x powdered sugar (also known as confectioner’s sugar)


cups all-purpose flour


For the Filling:



1 ½ to 2

cups sugar


cup all-purpose flour


teaspoon vanilla


cups rhubarb, diced into ½ inch pieces




1.     Preheat oven to 3500 F. Heat the butter in the microwave or in a sauce pan just until melted.


2.     Put the 2 cups of flour and the powdered sugar in a medium bowl. I mix the dry ingredients together first. Add the melted butter and mix thoroughly.


melted butter and flour mixture 


mixing butter and flour mix for crust



3.     Pour the crust mixture into a 9” x 13” cake pan and press the crust evenly over the entire bottom of the pan. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the crust is set but not browned. Remove from the oven.


crust patted into pan

Crust mixture patted into pan


baked crust

 Crust baked until set but not browned.


4.     While the crust is baking, crack the eggs into a medium bowl and beat them lightly until the yolks are broken and mixed with the whites. Add the sugar (1 ½ cup for lightly sweet, 2 cups if you prefer it sweeter), remaining flour, and the vanilla. Mix well. Stir in the rhubarb pieces.


beaten eggs for custard custard and rhubarb mixture



5.     Pour the rhubarb mixture over the crust and spread evenly. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a tester is inserted into the center and it comes out clean. The top of the bars will be lightly browned. The interior may still wiggle a bit, but if the tester comes out clean, the bars should be done. Dust top with powdered sugar if you want to.


rhubarb dream bars going into oven



baked rhubarb dream bars

Finished baking!


rhubarb dream bars on green plate


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