5 Easy Rhubarb Desserts That Will Make This Spring a Little Bit Brighter
At long last, rhubarb season is officially here! Whether roasted, simmered, or buried under a crunchy streusel topping, the crimson stalks provide some of the most vibrant flavors of spring. If you’ve never baked with rhubarb before, expect to be wowed — it’s fruity, tart, and unlike any other fruit or vegetable. You can find it in the produce section of many grocery stores, or in the frozen section cut into tiny pieces already. You can also order it online through retailers like Melissa’s Produce.
We came up with five simple desserts that highlight it in different ways. From a flavorful strawberry-rhubarb crisp to creamy cheesecake bars, these desserts are the perfect way to celebrate the season.
Five Easy Desserts with Fresh Rhubarb
- The rhubarb: Each recipe calls for fresh stalks of rhubarb. When buying rhubarb, look for crisp, firm stalks with a bright red color. If there are leaves still attached, make sure to discard them — they’re poisonous. If you’re starting with frozen rhubarb, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight, then drain off any excess liquid.
- Timing: Each dessert comes together in less than one hour. There’s no extra freezing, chilling, or rising time in any of the recipes.
- Serving size: Each dessert makes enough to feed at least eight people.
1. Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp
Heat oven to 350°F. Place 1 1/4 pounds sliced rhubarb (about 4 cups), 1 pound sliced strawberries (about 3 cups), juice and finely grated zest from 1 large lemon, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar, 5 tablespoons cornstarch, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a large bowl. Toss to combine, making sure there are no pockets of sugar in the bottom of the bowl. Pour into a large cast iron skillet.
Place 1 1/2 cups rolled oats, 1 cup all-purpose flour, and 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar in a medium bowl; stir to combine. Add 12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into small cubes and, using your fingers, press into the flour mixture until large, irregular clumps form. Scatter evenly over the fruit, leaving large clumps intact.
Bake until the juices are bubbling around the edges and the topping is golden-brown and firm, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving, at least 30 minutes.
Get the recipe: Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp
2. Rhubarb Coffee Cake
Heat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper so that it hangs off two sides to form a sling. Place 1 pound sliced rhubarb (about 3 1/2 cups), juice from 1 large lemon, 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring, until rhubarb is softening around the edges and the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Place 1 cup water, 1 (15.25-ounce) box vanilla or yellow cake mix (reserving 1/4 cup for the topping), 3 large eggs, and 8 tablespoons (1 stick) melted unsalted butter in a large bowl; whisk until smooth. Place 1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar, reserved 1/4 cup cake mix, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, and 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into cubes in a medium bowl. Using your fingers, press the butter into the dry ingredients until small clumps form.
Pour half of cake batter into prepared pan. Evenly distribute cooled rhubarb mixture over the top. Top with remaining cake batter and smooth into an even layer. Sprinkle with the topping. Bake until the cake is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Place pan on a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Grasping the parchment, lift the slab out of the baking dish and place onto a cutting board. Cut into 16 pieces.
Get the recipe: Rhubarb Coffee Cake
3. Rhubarb Dream Bars
Heat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper so that it hangs off two sides to form a sling. Coat with cooking spray. Press 1 (16.5-ounce) package refrigerated sugar cookie dough into an even layer in the bottom of the baking pan.
Place 1 pound sliced rhubarb (about 3 1/2 cups), 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar, and 1/4 cup cornstarch in a large bowl. Toss to combine, making sure there are no pockets of sugar in the bottom of the bowl. Scatter mixture evenly over cookie dough.
Place 4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter, 3/4 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Scatter evenly over rhubarb. Bake until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes, covering the pan with foil if the top gets too dark. Place on a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Grasping the parchment, lift the slab out of the baking dish and place onto a cutting board. Cut into 12 pieces.
Get the recipe: Rhubarb Dream Bars
4. Rhubarb Cheesecake Bars
Heat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper so that it hangs off two sides to form a sling. Break 12 full-size graham crackers into rough pieces and place in a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Process until crackers are texture of sand, about 30 seconds. Add 6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter and pulse to combine, about 10 pulses. Press mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Wipe out the food processor.
Place 2 (8-ounce) blocks full-fat cream cheese in the food processor. Process until very smooth and fluffy, 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup granulated sugar and process until incorporated, 1 minute. Scrape down sides of the bowl and add 2 large eggs. Process until incorporated, 1 minute.
Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the filling into a medium bowl. Add 8 ounces sliced rhubarb (about 2 cups) and 1/2 cup granulated sugar to the remaining filling left in the food processor. Process until rhubarb is broken down and mixture is smooth, 2 minutes.
Pour rhubarb filling over crust. Dollop reserved plain filling on top (leaving space between each dollop) and swirl with a toothpick or skewer to create a marbled effect. Bake until top is lightly browned and center is still slightly jiggly, 30 to 35 minutes. Place on a wire rack and let cool to room temperature before cutting into 16 squares.
Get the recipe: Rhubarb Cheesecake Bars
5. Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake
Heat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray, then line the bottom with a parchment paper round. Pour 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter into the bottom of the pan and sprinkle with 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Nestle 1 pound rhubarb into the sugar, rounded-side down, in an even layer without overlapping, trimming stalks as needed so they fit evenly in the pan.
Place 1 (15.25-ounce) box vanilla or yellow cake mix, 3 large eggs, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, and 1 cup water in a large bowl; whisk until smooth. Pour over rhubarb and smooth out the top.
Bake until the cake is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan by running a knife around the edge and gently inverting it onto a serving plate. Discard the parchment paper before slicing.
Get the recipe: Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake
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