Make Ahead

Rhubarb Curd Shortbread

April 30, 2010
8 Ratings
  • Prep time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Serves 16 bars
Author Notes

I'm a curd fanatic. I eat the stuff straight out of the bowl. When I saw this rhubarb curd on a couple blogs, I was instantly smitten and had to try it for myself. It's got the zing and intrigue of passionfruit curd, but it'! I'm in love. The shortbread is an adaptation of (shocker!) Karen DeMasco's recipe, with some spices added to complement the rhubarb. - Rivka —Rivka

Test Kitchen Notes

On top is a silky and tangy blanket of rhubarb curd (made just like lemon curd) and beneath is a pad of thick and crumbly spiced shortbread. Genius! We made the shortbread in the food processor and suggest that you do, too, if you have one handy. The curd takes some elbow grease, it must be said. Think of it as your workout for the day. Once you have the two basic elements, all you do is fuse them with an icing spreader and finish with a few minutes in the oven. - A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • for the curd
  • 3/4 pound rhubarb (about 6 stalks)
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup plus 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
  • For the shortbread
  • 12 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered galangal or ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 pinch cloves
  1. Wash rhubarb and trim as little off the ends as possible. Cut rhubarb into 1-inch chunks. In a small saucepan, heat rhubarb, 1/4 sugar, and water on medium. Cook until rhubarb falls apart and there are no whole pieces left, adding water by the tablespoon if rhubarb sticks to the bottom of the pan. At this point, either use an immersion blender to puree the mixture, or (if you’re like me and your blender is otherwise occupied) push the mixture through a strainer. The first method is definitely easier.
  2. Preheat oven to 350. Now, make the shortbread: blend all ingredients in a stand mixer or food processor until combined. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate about 1 hour. Then, either roll into 8×8 square and place square in 8-inch square baking pan, or dump dough into pan and use fingertips to press evenly into pan. Bake 30 minutes, until golden. Let cool on a rack or on the counter.
  3. Add a couple inches of water to the pot of a double boiler and set over medium heat. Put egg yolks, butter, remaining sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in the boil of the double boiler and whisk to combine. When sugar has dissolved completely, add the rhubarb puree by the spoonful, to temper the eggs. When all rhubarb has been added, set bowl over pot; the water should be simmering. Continue stirring the rhubarb mixture; after about 5 minutes, the mixture will be warm and slightly thickened. At this point, remove from heat. Press through a strainer -- this will give your curd that smooth, pudding-like texture.
  4. Use an offset spatula to spread curd evenly over shortbread. If you haven’t eaten half the bowl right then and there, you should have enough curd to make a layer about the thickness of the shortbread; I didn’t. Bake another 10 minutes, then remove from oven and cool on rack. Refrigerate about 20 minutes, and you’ll find that they’ve firmed up enough to slice cleanly. Cut into 16 equal bars. Dust with powdered sugar before serving; do your best not to polish them all off in one sitting.
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I'm a healthcare consultant by day, food blogger by night, and I make a mean veggie chili. I'm eat a mostly-vegetarian diet, but have a soft spot for meat, especially braised short ribs. And this profile wouldn't be complete without an admission that I absolutely am addicted to cookies and chocolate. Finally, I love the idea of food52 and can't wait to share and read my and others' favorite recipes!

85 Reviews

osborns August 24, 2020
This recipe is great! After reading reviews about trouble achieving a pink curd, I bought a little extra rhubarb and made sure to only use the pinkest ends. My color matched The picture exactly! I put my rhubarb mixture in a smoothie blender (rather than using an immersion blender) and had no problem passing the finished curd through a mesh strainer at the end. It set up nicely when chilled. I do agree with other reviewers that the short bread could be thinner (easy adjustment next time!), but the spices in it are wonderful and compliment the rhubarb.
Deanna June 6, 2019
This is a great recipe but the curd never properly set up for me. It's soft and luscious but not firm enough to slice into bars. So disappointing but delicious nevertheless. I'd add more eggs and butter to the recipe next time to firm up the curd.
epicharis May 20, 2018
An outstanding recipe. I should have doubled the curd because it was just exquisite. In the initial steps we replaced the water with some homemade rhubarb vanilla syrup. I thought the shortbread was delicious, if a bit on the thick side.
Brenda July 7, 2016
This was my first time making curd and for a first attempt wasn't terrible. The flavor was fantastic on the curd, but the shortbread wasn't as sweet as I had hoped. I think it may have balanced the tart nature of the curd a bit better, but overall I really enjoyed the recipe and will definitely try it again next season!
chankari June 26, 2016
Really loved the bars! Just a few notes. I stuck to the recipe pretty much to the letter. They were pretty rhubarb-y and had a nice mix of sweet and tart. I found the shortbread to be not too sweet and the spices were very mild. The color was more like a salmon pink (orange-y pink for me, but the bars looked appetizing). At the prep stage I tried to take some of the strings out of the rhubarb (much like celery), then I blended the heck out of the rhubarb puree before adding it to the eggs. I had everything at room temperature (eggs especially) because curd is tricky for me. Also passing the curd through the strainer was a pain in the neck (taking me about a half hour), but really worth it to get that smooth pudding finish. I used about 7 stalks of rhubarb, but best to go with weight. The recipe is pretty labor intensive, but makes for a really delicious and unique treat.
Rivka June 26, 2016
So glad you liked it! Not the quickest recipe to make, but I love them once a season.
NorthwoodsDan May 13, 2016
Start with four cups of rhubarb if you are using Rhubarb from your garden. We don't own a kitchen scale or an immersion blender (we don't even own a standing mixer...we knead bread by hand in this house), so there was some guesswork from the start because rhubarb stalks can be thick, skinny, and vary by size. I attempted to run the cooked down rhubarb through a fine mesh strainer. All I was left with was juice so I recombined everything and it turned out just fine. I'm not sure why, but I don't blame the author, I blame the chef. Anyway, I have a standing policy of making a recipe three times before I determine whether it is "good" or "bad." Adjustments are needed to this recipe (IMHO) but I do think this is a keeper. I'm going to change how I make the curd and use the Tartine method next time. The shortbread is outstanding. I added a touch more clove for a deeper flavor.
Jane May 27, 2015
This looked so interesting. The finished result looked great, but not one of my rhubarb eating family liked it. They voted to bin it. I'm going to try the curd in a shortbread style slice - curd in the middle and crumble on top.
Jeanne-Marie June 8, 2014
Divine. Thanks for the recipe.
Chris May 30, 2014
I thought this was just okay; probably won't make it again. In my area, I'm only able to get the greenish rhubarb from the farmers' market so the curd came out a sickly green-yellow color, not very appetizing at all. The shortbread was nice with the added spices but crumbled quite a bit, maybe I baked it too long. I got halfway through straining the curd and gave up and used my immersion blender for the second straining. Just not enough bang for the amount of work. Sorry! I really wanted to like it.
Ellen E. May 24, 2014
This looks spectacular and i couldnt wait to try it. I have made curd many times without problems, but this was pretty close to an unmittigated fail. Perhaps the problem was that I used rhubarb straight form the garden, but when I cooked it with the sugar and water specified, it was very liquidy. So I cooked it a bit more, then passed the puree hrough the strainer. I had about a cup of beautiful dark pink juice. It was not clear to me from the recipe how much juice to add to the sugar mixture. I added most of it. Was I supposed to use the remaining pulp? I used four large egg yolks from a friends hens, and the curd was bright yellow, not a hint of pink. They are tasty, but they do not even whisper "rhubarb". I will pass ithem off as citrus curd bars, I guess. Any thoughts?
Bonny L. May 24, 2014
Are you sure you used 3/4 pound of rhubarb, 4 Tablespoons of water, and 1 Tablespoon of sugar in the initial cooking? You should have ended up with a thick mixture.
Hannah R. June 5, 2014
I had a very similar issue when I used a food mill to blend the cooked rhubarb. There was a fair amount of juice but a lot of mashed rhubarb as well. In the end, I continued milling until it was a fine paste and reincorporated it into the liquid. And voila! A thick, tart puree. The only other issue I had was the final product not being quite so beautifully pink
Bonny L. June 5, 2014
I'm sorry, I typed the amount of sugar wrong. It should have said 4 Tablespoons of sugar. 4 Tablespoons = 1/4 cup - so the recipe is:
3/4 # rhubarb
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
Did you weigh out your rhubarb to 12 ounces?
Bonny L. May 19, 2014
I have a question about this recipe. Why do you say to preheat the oven more than an hour before you can bake the crust? Isn't that a waste of electricity? My oven preheats in about 5 minutes.
Rivka May 20, 2014
Bonny Lee, great point. Don't know why I said that! Disregard.
Bonny L. May 19, 2014
I'm going to try these now that my rhubarb plants are up. I think I'll add a little freshly grated ginger and ground cinnamon for more flavor.
One commenter mentioned that she didn't have a double boiler. If you don't have one, it's easy to duplicate this cooking method by placing a glass bowl, that's larger than your saucepan, on top, and cook the mixture over about an inch of simmering water in the saucepan.
I have an immersion blender and will use this to puree the rhubarb mixture before straining it.
Rosemary March 30, 2014
I'm allergic to eggs. Can you suggest a substitute? I see that the recipe calls for straining, but I think the texture would be interesting. Perhaps adding a little cinnamon, ginger or other spice might really make this recipe zing! Sometimes a recipe needs a little spice to give it that over the top flavor. I love rhubarb. I recall tasting a famous ollalaberry pie but it tasted flat, needed a spice. Thanks.
ingababinga May 27, 2013
I've been making this rhubarb curd shortbread recipe yearly since it posted here. It is always very well received, beautiful, and delicious. The curd can be used for other recipes or eaten straight as is! I actually find it easy to make and you just need a strainer that does not have a fine mesh and it will make the job easier.
The F. May 19, 2013
I think this recipe has a lot of potential but is missing something as it stands currently. It does really WOW you, even if the custard is amazingly delicious. I wanted more after reading the Author's Notes.
skenny89 May 18, 2013
This is fabulous I look forward each spring for rhubarb just to make this curd, I too am a curd fanatic and usually eat spoonfuls of whenever I make tarts
WannabeBaker May 12, 2013
I really wanted to like this recipe, and it certainly tasted fine. I just don't think it tasted good enough to be worth all the effort. I don't have a double boiler (who does? Like 20 percent of cooks?), so that obviously made my job harder, but the worst part was straining the curd. I think I scraped it against the fine mesh for 20 minutes before I finally got it all through. Good, but not that good.
Bonny L. May 24, 2014
It's easy to make your own double boiler. Place your ingredients in a glass bowl that is larger than the top of a saucepan, and sits on top of it tightly (so no steam will escape). Add about an inch of water to the saucepan, and bring it to a simmer. Place your bowl on top of the simmering water, and you have a double boiler.
lalocook April 22, 2013
Just made this yesterday for a dinner party. Ended up cooking the custard quite a bit longer b/c to me it didn't seem very custardy -- just thickened a bit. Delicious though. I ran out of time to make the shortbread (classic me move) but my plan B was delicious. I did individual ramekins: place a thin ginger biscuit on bottom, top with layer of curd, then make a meringue, dollop that over and bake. Meringue with this tart curd is perfect. And it's fun to serve people their own little toasty poofy desserts.
SB W. April 8, 2013
How much rhubarb purée
Is measured out after step 1? I am looking to replace it with se homemade rosehip syrup and just need to know the volume/quantity of rhubarb sauce at the end if step 1...Thanks!
Sandra B. April 3, 2013
Any one have a glutton free recipe
For this?
fatgirleating April 3, 2013
when i make GF baked goods i end up using either fully replacing the wheat flour with equal amounts (by weight, which is important, and 1C = 4.5 oz) manini brand baking flour OR 1 part Bob's Red Mill Sweet sourghum to 2 parts Bob' Pizza Crust mix (without the yeast packet) which i find gives a toothsome and tasty flour blend that's on the toasty side of flavor neutral