Monday, May 23, 2011
I grew up eating a variety of rhubarb baked goods in the springtime. The stalks sprout up every year along my parent's grain shed. We baked everything from muffins and cake to crisps and pie. Then we'd make still more into jam or freeze it and enjoy it all year 'round. I happen to love the stuff. The tart stalks play perfectly against the sugar in some my favorite desserts. When I found this recipe for Rhubarb Cheesecake Squares in the April/May edition of Taste of Home magazine, I knew that I would give it a try. I loved the sweet buttery crust and the crumb topping with the cream cheese filling. Seriously yummy! The next time I bake these, I will make a couple of adjustments, but overall this one is a keeper!
To make this recipe, I began with some rhubarb stalks. I prefer the free variety (from my parent's farm), but this time I had to settle for a package that I found on sale at my local market. If the rhubarb that you purchase looks like this, you'll need to cut off the dry, split ends.
I like to slice the stalks into thin strips first,
and then dice it up. The next time I make this, I will leave some slightly larger chunks. I really like to taste the rhubarb in my desserts.
Next, I began the crust/topping. I mixed together brown sugar, old fashion oats, and flour.
Then cut in a stick of unsalted butter until crumbly.
Reserve a cup of the mixture for topping and press the rest into the bottom of a greased 9-inch square pan.
Now to go to work on the filling...
Cream 8 oz. of cream cheese (I used Neuchatel) with 3/4 cup of sugar until smooth. Then add in vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and some salt. (Next time I will omit the salt. The recipe called for 1/2 teaspoon. It was too much. I could actually taste the salt.)
Add an egg and beat on low until just combined.
Fold in the rhubarb.
Spread the filling over the crust and sprinkle the remaining oat mixture over the top.
Bake the bars for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees until the topping is golden brown and the center is set.
Now, here's the worst part....you have to wait. Let the pan cool for 1 hour on a rack, then chill for at least 2 hours before slicing. They are worth the wait. After 3 hours of cooling, they slice up beautifully!
Rhubarb Cheesecake Squares adapted from Taste of Home
16 Servings Prep: 20 min. Bake:35 min. + chilling
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup cold butter
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten
1-1/2 cups finely chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb
•In a small bowl, combine the flour, oats and brown sugar. Cut in butter until crumbly. Set aside 1 cup crumb mixture; press remaining mixture onto the bottom of a greased 9-in. square baking pan. Set aside.
•For filling, in a small bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in the vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add egg; beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in rhubarb. Pour over crust. Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture.
•Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Cut into squares.
Stay tuned for this week's meal plan (just one day late) tomorrow!