When I set out to make rhubarb curd, I imagined a jar full of shockingly pink spread to dollop on toast, scones, and ice cream. As it turns out, my eggs were so deep yellow in color that the final result looked more like traditional lemon than rhubarb. A bit disappointing, yes, but the flavor was so lovely that I quickly rebounded from this minor misfortune.
Tart spring rhubarb makes a great substitute for citrus in curd, which itself can be a springboard for all sorts of breakfasts and desserts. Use curd to dress up toast and shortbread, swirl it into ice cream, fill crêpes and layer cakes, or just eat it by the spoonful, which you might find yourself doing after making this delightfully silky spread.
The first step is to make a rhubarb juice. You can do this in a juicer, but I find that simmering it on the stove gives it a sweeter dimension. If you make extra juice, you can add it to soda water and cocktails and enjoy some of the pink color even if it dissipates in your curd.
Depending on the colors of your rhubarb and eggs, your curd might end up a different shade of yellow or rose. Either way, it's a lovely seasonal treat. There are also many ways to punch it up with spices that are complementary to rhubarb, like vanilla, ginger, or cardamom, and I've included some variations at the end of the recipe.
Makes about 2 cups
fresh rhubarb, leaves removed and discarded
(8 tablespoons) butter, cut into small chunks
Chop rhubarb into 1-inch pieces and place in a small saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes until rhubarb is soft and you have a nice pink juice. Strain and let cool. Measure out 2/3 cup of juice for the curd. (Use the leftover pulp in yogurt or dry it into fruit leather. If you have any leftover juice, pour it into a drink!)
Whisk together 2/3 cup rhubarb juice, sugar, and eggs in a small saucepan. Cook over low-medium heat, stirring constantly and scraping the sides and bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon, until the internal temperature reaches 170°F. (If you don't have a thermometer, just watch for it to thicken and coat the back of the spoon.)
Remove from heat and stir in butter. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and let cool.
Cover and refrigerate at least an hour until firm.
You can add spices while the rhubarb is simmering to make the juice, and then strain these out along with the pulp. For example:
• Rhubarb-Vanilla Curd: 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
• Rhubarb-Ginger Curd: 1-inch knob of ginger, peeled and sliced
• Rhubarb-Cardamom Curd: 2 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
Related: First "Fruit" of Spring: Rhubarb
(Images: Emily Ho)