I think I’ve determined that the perfect picnic dessert is a bar cookie. Usually quick and easy to prepare, they slice up into conveniently-square-shaped bars that fit nicely into packing containers, plus they are generally sturdy and don’t need refrigeration, plates, or forks. So when I had a picnic to attend recently, I eyed my stash of frozen rhubarb and decided to make strawberry-rhubarb bars to bring along!
I admit that I made a few tweaks (both intentional and unintentional) to the recipe I found online, but I think they worked out just fine.
Like many of the recipe reviewers, I doubled the recipe and par-baked the crust for 10 minutes just to ensure that the bottoms of the bars were firm and sliceable– those were the intentional changes. Unintentionally, however, I put in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch instead of 2 teaspoons, which I worried would make the filling too chewy but which turned out fine. The bars held together well even when not refrigerated, and were really delicious.
I was going through my freezer the other day when I came across a small bag of chopped frozen rhubarb from last spring. Since it’s been a year and we are once again in the middle of rhubarb season, I figured I should finally use up my previous supply. As luck would have it, Smitten Kitchen recently posted a recipe for Rhubarb Crumb Cake, which sounded great and which (when doubled) conveniently called for just about as much rhubarb as I had on hand!
It also called for a whole bunch of butter, but that’s never been an issue for me…
While we’re on the subject of seasonal produce, rhubarb has always said “summer” to me. While it’s available I buy it, chop it, and freeze it for use in the dead of winter to at least bring back the memory of warmer weather. While straight rhubarb may be too tart for some, the iconic combination of strawberries and rhubarb can win over the harshest of critics. And when those strawberries were picked lovingly by one’s three-year-old daughter (in between devouring them and licking juice off her fingers), how could anyone resist?
I chose to make this a compote rather than a pie or a crisp because I’m really the only one in the house who actually likes pie. At least with a compote my family can spoon it on top of yogurt, over shortcakes, or just eat it straight from the spoon!