l love rhubarb. My favorite way to eat it is either oven roasted or stewed with sugar and spices. I love to eat stewed rhubarb in a little bowl with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. I also like to try new recipes with rhubarb, like this one for rhubarb brown butter bars. The season for field rhubarb is a fairly short one so I want to make sure I enjoy my fair share before the bright red stalks we find in the markets fade in our memory as we move into warmer weather.
I first drooled over these jammy rhubarb bar cookies on Pinterest and then realized that I had the recipe in my copy of The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook, lucky me! I love a bar cookie made with homemade rhubarb jam, bright flavored tangerine juice, spices and a healthy amount of brown butter. The rhubarb jam is spread over a pre- baked shortbread like crust and then deliciously swirled on top of all those browned buttery layers, oh my.
I made a few small adaptions to the original recipe, like using tangerines from my backyard tree instead of oranges. I reluctantly admit to thinking about cutting back on some of the butter in the recipe but quickly came to my senses.
The rhubarb jam for these bars is excellent all by itself and if you can your hands on a larger quantity of rhubarb then I would suggest doubling the jam recipe to use later for spreading on your morning toast. This recipe has a few components, first making the rhubarb jam, then pre-baking a brown butter crust, which uses a more time consuming technique than similar recipes I’ve used for bar cookie crusts and finally the brown butter filling..but it’s all so good when it comes together and so worth the extra time.
Recipe adapted from The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook by Michelle and Philip Wojtowicz.
- for the rhubarb jam
- 1 cup sugar
- Grated zest and juice of 4 tangerines
- 1/2 half vanilla bean
- 4 large rhubarb stalks, cut into 1/2" pieces
- for the brown butter crust
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- for the brown butter filling
- 3 large eggs
- 1 & 1/4 cups sugar
- Grated zest of 2 tangerines
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- prepare the rhubarb jam
- Place the sugar, grated zest and tangerine juice, the pod and pulp of 1/2 vanilla bean that has been split in half and scraped and the sliced rhubarb in a medium heavy pan.
- Bring to a boil over high heat, cook and stir until rhubarb mixture turns into a thick jam, about 10 minutes.
- Transfer to a bowl (discard the vanilla pod) and cool while you prepare the crust and filling.
- prepare the brown butter crust
- Melt the butter over a medium-high heat while whisking.
- Cook the butter for about 5-7 minutes until the milk solids separate, it will brown and become fragrant, remove from heat.
- Pour the browned butter into a shallow bowl and freeze solid, about 30 minutes.
- Place the powdered sugar and flour into a medium bowl and whisk together.
- Remove the brown butter from the freezer and cut into small cubes.
- Mix the butter cubes into the sugar/flour mixture until large crumbs begin to form.
- Work the crumbly mixture into a dough that can be evenly pressed into a foil lined 9x13 pan.
- Chill for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Bake the crust on a middle oven rack for 15-18 minutes or until lightly brown.
- Cool the crust before assembling the bars.
- prepare the brown butter filling
- Whisk together the eggs, sugar, zest and flour in a medium bowl.
- Split and scrape out the pulp of the other half of the vanilla bean and place in a saucepan with the butter.
- Cook the vanilla bean/ butter mixture over a high heat until the milk solids separate, turn brown and become fragrant (discard the vanilla pod).
- Gently pour the brown butter into the egg mixture, whisking until smooth.
- assemble the bars
- Spread half the brown butter filling over the baked cooled crust.
- Spoon the rhubarb jam over the filling, reserving about a quarter of the jam to finish the top.
- Spread the remaining brown butter filling over the rhubarb jam and finish by spooning smaller dollops of rhubarb jam over the top.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes until the filling is deep golden brown.
- Remove pan from the oven and cool completely before cutting into small (1&1/2") squares.
These bars freeze well.