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John Golden

John Golden writes about food and has a highly opinionated blog, The Golden Dish.

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Posted: May 21, 2014

Local rhubarb stars in delicious dessert squares

Written by: John Golden

Jan Goranson of Goranson Farm is always a great source of recipes—especially for dishes that are based on what she grows and raises at the farm.  Last week she gave me a recipe for a special heirloom dessert using rhubarb, which she now has in good supply at her stand at Portland’s farmer’s markets.

Fresh cut local rhubarb

Fresh cut local rhubarb

This dessert is called Sena’s Rhubarb Dessert.  Sena was an old family friend who recently passed and was well into her nineties.  Everyone loved the dessert and it became a firm family favorite at Jan’s house.

It’s basically a pan cookie but with a difference.  You first make a simple shortbread dough, which is prebaked then topped with a simple egg custard filled with rhubarb.  The consistency is a cross between a brownie and a lemon square.  It’s a great dessert to make  when local rhubarb is available and fit well into a  Memorial Day menu.

Cut into squares ad arrange on a cake stand; top with powdered sugar if desired

Cut into squares ad arrange on a cake stand; top with powdered sugar if desired

Straight from the pan you can top it with powdered sugar and cut into squares, but to make it really special serve it with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.  It’s a very tart-sweet pan cookie—and really delicious, unusual and easy to make.

I served it with whipped cream made with raw cream from Misty Brook Farm, Albion, ME  whose organic cream from Jersey cows is fantastic.  It’s being stocked again at the Munjoy Hill store of Rosemont Market.

Top with whipped cream

Top with whipped cream

Sena’s Rhubarb Dessert

Servings: 9 to 12 squares

Shortbread
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
5 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour

Topping
Rhubarb cut into 1/2- to 3/4- inch pieces to measure 2 cups
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until  combined; add the flour and mix until creamy; don’t over mix, however.

Press this into an 8-inch square buttered baking tin.  You might need to flour your hands lightly as you do this because the dough can be somewhat sticky.  Bake for 15 minutes until lightly colored.

Meanwhile in a medium bowl mix together the eggs, sugar, flour and baking powder until smooth.  Fold in the rhubarb.

When the shortbread is ready, pour the rhubarb mixture over it and return to the oven to bake for 35 minutes or until the top feels set and is lightly browned and crunchy.  Allow to cool for 30 minutes before cutting into squares.  If desired sprinkle powdered sugar over the rhubarb once it’s cool.

Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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