Re-imagine your rhubarb crop with these desserts

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Every summer, I wind up with a bunch of rhubarb and find myself making pie. So much pie.

This year, I'm trying to get out of my rhubarb funk, not just in my flavors but also in how I use it, the packaging. I have never made rhubarb cookies before, but cranberry/white chocolate is already a pretty formidable combination, and a perennial Christmas favorite around here.

These Rhubarb-Cranberry Cookies combine those three with oats, making for a sweet treat that is soft, summery and subtle on the rhubarb — perfect if you're baking for someone who doesn't love the pucker.

Note: Rhubarb adds some wetness to any dessert, but here the oats take on the job of keeping things from turning to mush. Still, it was a balancing act to get cookies that were cooked and not mushy, but also not overly browned. Keep your eyes on them.

RHUBARB-CRANBERRY COOKIES

Recipe courtesy of Taste of Home

Ingredients:

1/2 cup softened butter (1 stick)

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/4 cups oats

1 heaping cup of fresh sliced rhubarb

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup dried cranberries

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Directions:

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in the oats, rhubarb, chips and cranberries.

Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes or until set.

***

I have been dreaming about getting to make this galette since last Thanksgiving, when I made my first plum tart ever. It was amazing, sweet, with just a hint of a tartness that had my head spinning with ideas for how to make it even better. (For me, better means more sour.) Rhubarb was an obvious addition and I happily latched on to this recipe.

The result was thin and crispy, sweet and only slightly sour. It gets the stamp of approval from my family — it disappeared in one sitting. However, if you're like me and think something is only tart enough when you involuntarily recoil when you put it in your mouth, try reducing the sugar.

As I mentioned before, rhubarb tends to add a wetness to desserts, and especially to pies. No fear here, though. Piling half the dry ingredients into the crust first to create a catch for all of that juice, and folding the sides up high kept this dessert from leaking all over and allowed that juice to turn into a lovely, sticky pie filling. I wouldn't advise baking on anything but a sided cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan, however. Just in case.

RHUBARB-PLUM GALETTE

Recipe courtesy of: The Wordy Baker

Ingredients:

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1 plain pie crust or cornmeal pate brisee

1 lb. of chopped rhubarb and plum slices (I used three short rhubarb stalks and two plums).

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 heaping cup flour

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Pinch cinnamon

Pinch nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

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Mix together dry ingredients, and spread about half in a circle in the base of your pie crust. Toss your fruit mixture in the leftover dry mix, and pile in the center of your crust, leaving about 2 inches around the edges. Fold the edges of the crust around the fruit, overlapping and pressing down folds as necessary.

Bake on a silicone mat or parchment paper, for 55 to 65 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling and soft.

***

For a more traditional use of rhubarb, try Associate Features Editor Margaret Button's recipe for a classic dessert bar.

RHUBARB DREAM BARS

Ingredients:

For crust:

2 cups flour

1 cup butter

3/4 cup confectioner's sugar

For filling:

4 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup flour

4 cups diced rhubarb

Directions:

Combine flour, butter and confectioner's sugar. Press crust on bottom of 15-by-10-by-1-inch jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes.

While crust is baking, prepare filling.

Blend the eggs, sugar, flour and salt until smooth. Fold in rhubarb and spread over the crust. Bake 40 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees F until lightly brown. Cool and cut into squares.


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