Let the Rhubarb (Dessert) Season Begin…

It’s starting to get real exciting at the markets here in Zürich.  We’ve already had a few tastes of summer, and berries are making their first appearances, mostly coming from Spain and Italy.  Best of all, rhubarb is now in the spotlight !  I noticed the long, green-topped, ruby stalks at the Coop (local supermarket) a few weeks ago, but as they were grown in hot-houses (and who knows where), I waited ever so patiently for the local crop to show.  Swiss rhubarb is now at every stand at the markets and I can hardly resist buying some each time I go.  Those bright stalks stick out of my market bag like a French baguette, and I hurry home to turn them into a quick pot of jam, or chop them up and throw them into the oven hiding beneath a mountain of buttery crumble topping.

Swiss RhubarbSwiss Rhubarb

Going to a friend’s place for dinner, I was of course in charge of dessert.  My first thought was a favorite dessert of mine… lemon meringue pie.  (Making it from scratch means I get to pile on the meringue as high as I want – very high !).  Instead of the classic graham cracker crust, I thought about crushing homemade chocolate chip cookies.  Or better yet, speculoos.  During a weekend with friends in Lille, France, we had eaten speculoos in every which way – ice cream, caramels, pastries…, the highlight being “Fifi’s Ch’tiramisu.”  She sent us home with a kilo of these dark, crisp cookies so I could recreate the desserts she made – but hey Fifi, I’m still waiting for the recipes !

And so, I went to the market with a speculoos crust in mind for my lemon meringue pie.  Only, just before I could ask for a half dozen lemons… well, you know what caught my eye.  There’s my buddy above, the always smiling Werner (whom you met exactly two years ago) picking out the brightest and best stalks of them all.

Rhubarb Meringue PieRhubarb Meringue PieRhubarb Meringue PieRhubarb Meringue Pie

My lemon meringue pie became a rhubarb meringue pie (recipe at bottom of post) and I couldn’t be any happier with the results.  A hint of caramel and cinnamon from the speculoos; and a very generous mound of whipped egg whites on top to balance the strong tartness and acidity of the rhubarb and the sweetness of the sugar it was cooked down in.  I used the leftover rhubarb I had to make rhubarb strawberry jam, which was then mixed into yogurt and topped with Medjool dates.  Here are a few more ideas below, and ways I’ll be using rhubarb over the next couple of months while it’s in season:

Rhabarberberry Crumble
Rhubarb Roll-Ups
Rhubarb Curd Shortbread – food52
Rustic Rhubarb Tarts – Smitten Kitchen
Rhubarb Crumble Cake – Delicious Days
Cherry Rhubarb Crumble – Dorie Greenspan
Rhubarb Strawberry Ginger Crumble Tarts – Mélanger

Rhubarb Meringue PieRhubarb Meringue PieRhubarb Meringue PieRhubarb Meringue Pie

The Jewish holiday of Passover begins Monday evening, April 18th this year – most widely known as the 8 days when we can not eat leavened bread, nor foods made with wheat, barley, rye, spelt or oats.  Perhaps no coincidence that I was just thinking about lemon meringue pie; every year I drool over Eli Zabar’s signature ‘Mile High Lemon Meringue Cake‘ that goes flourless for Passover, and dream of it making an appearance on my holiday table. (I’ll keep dreaming… and drooling.)  In addition to the traditional sweet items at my seder (coconut macaroons, mocha matzoh buttercrunch, Joyva marshmallow twists) and on the table all throughout the week (matzoh with salted butter and maple syrup, matzoh brei…), I’ll be making this rhubarb meringue pie once again… with a matzoh meal crust, of course.

To all who are celebrating, Happy Passover !! And tell us, what will you be making or serving for dessert ?

Passover recipes:
Mocha Matzoh Buttercrunch Ice Cream Sundaes
Chocolate Chunk Coconut Macaroons
Matzoh Brei
Dried Fig & Pistachio Nougat (omit cornstarch to keep kosher for Passover)
Pistachio Coconut Macaroons (again, remove corn syrup for Passover baking)
Blackberry and Coconut Macaroon Tart – Smitten Kitchen

* Check out the “Matzoh-Paloozah” over at Leite’s Culinaria, with 100 ideas for what to do with matzoh. (Don’t miss #65-67)

Rhubarb Meringue Pie

Rhubarb Meringue Pie
Makes one 9″ / 23 cm pie

Speculoos crust
25-30 speculoos (180 grams) or 1.5 cups of crushed cookies/digestives/graham crackers
5 Tablespoons (75 grams) butter, melted and cooled
2 Tablespoons sugar
pinch of fleur de sel

Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius (375 degrees Fahrenheit). Put speculoos in a large ziplock bag, close tightly and crush cookies using a rolling pin. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. Press into pie pan with fingers, spreading until even on bottom and sides. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool.

Rhubarb filling
450 grams (~1 pound) rhubarb, roughly chopped
120 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice (1/2 small lemon)
1 Tablespoon cornstarch

Cook all ingredients over medium heat, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes. Rhubarb should be broken down and have a syrupy jam consistency. Pour into baked tart shell and let cool completely.

Meringue topping
5 egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
120 grams (1/2 cup) sugar

Reheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius (375 degrees Fahrenheit). Beat egg whites with salt until they form soft peaks. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until meringue has stiff peaks. Top rhubarb filling with meringue. Leave in mounds with spikey peaks, or flatten and spread evenly. Important: make sure meringue covers the entire surface and meets the pan all around; no rhubarb filling should be exposed.  Bake for about 10 minutes until browned on top.

17 Responses to “Let the Rhubarb (Dessert) Season Begin…”

  1. Julia @ Mélanger says:

    I was hoping for some more photos of the markets from you, et voilà, here they are. How funny!

    What a great recipe twist on this pie. When you spy something so fresh and fragrant at the markets, yes, you must adapt your original ideas to suit. I never have eaten rhubarb with meringue, and so so so need to try this recipe.

    You sure have a delicious list of other rhubarb recipes to try. If you have any more room in your belly, try this one, too? http://melangerbaking.com/2010/07/12/rhubarb-strawberry-ginger-crumble-tarts/ I made a batch of these last year, and foolishly had already decided to share some with my elderly neighbours before I tasted one myself. I wish I had kept them all for myself to gobble up!!

    Happy Passover for Monday. 🙂

    P.S. Is that a wooden spoon with a Swiss flag cut out in the centre? So cool!

  2. Lora says:

    What a fantastic idea for a twist on lemon meringue pie. Love it. I made tropical charoset truffles and rum raisin bread pudding (out of matzoh of course). Your post also made me miss Zabar’s. Sigh.

  3. Denise says:

    I have honestly never tried rhubard *blushing in shame*. What does it taste like? Is there any other vegetable with a similar taste?

  4. Kerrin says:

    Julia, I already can’t wait for you to try pairing rhubarb and meringue – they go absolutely wonderfully together. I have served crunchy meringues with strawberry rhubarb ice cream, and that is sooo good. Or how about an Eton Mess with meringues, rhubarb compote and vanilla ice cream ! And of course I remember those crumble tarts of yours – just shared the link above, thank you ! I loved them, just took out the ginger for me. Last but not least, you bet – cool wooden spoon, right ? Just got it as a gift, love it ! =)

    Lora, thank you ! Tropical charoset truffles ?! Wow, what an idea ! How creative – and I bet delicious. Have a happy Passover ! (Oh, and me too, miss Zabar’s a little bit.)

    Denise, no worries, rhubarb isn’t all that common. Definitely no other vegetable to compare it to – only celery by form. But as for taste, it’s very much treated like a fruit and often paired with strawberries, especially in pies. It is extremely acidic on its own, so needs sugar when cooking and makes a deliciously tart-sweet jam. Give it a go, and let me know what you think… Enjoy !

  5. Sanem says:

    I love rhubarb and this sounds like a delight. I thought about trying the rhubarb meringue recipe that I saw in this months Betty Bossi magazine but yours sounds even more delicious. Thanks for posting this.

  6. Valentina says:

    Kerrin, have you spent Easter in Brazil with your husband?! I LOVE Easter back home. More than Xmas. Since I’m in the UK i’ll be going for local things for Easter celebration.x

  7. Kerrin says:

    Sanem, thanks ! I don’t get Betty Bossi magazine, but I just saw online that rhubarb is on the cover ! What a coincidence that there is a rhubarb meringue recipe too. What exactly is the dessert they make ? Hope you enjoy this one here, let me know if you try it for sure.

    Valentina, I’ve only been to Brazil once and we went for Carnival ! You must tell me what Easter is like in Brazil – you love it even more than Christmas ! I’ll have to ask Olivier what he did there as a kid also. And what will you do to celebrate in London ?? No matter what, I know it will be sweet… =)

  8. Trish says:

    Wow Kerrin! Great post. I adore rhubarb and thank you so much for the great Rhubarb & passover recipes.
    Chag Sameach!

  9. Emma says:

    The return of rhabarberrrrrrrrr!

    I just bought my first bunch of rhubarb at the grocery store this afternoon and made up a strawberry rhubarb crumble! What a coincidence. Yay for market pictures and yay for nonconventional meringue pies!

    I will be attending my second Passover celebration this Tuesday. I’m undecided as to what I’ll make, but since I still have plenty of matzoh meal from last year, perhaps I’ll look to the rhubarb meringue realm of deliciousness!

  10. Kerrin says:

    Trish, thank you to a fellow rhubarb fan ! Have a happy Pesach as well !

    Emma, yessss rhabarber is back – I can hear you saying it out loud, right ?! 😉 And even a few market pics up there for you, knew you’d smile at that that for sure. Love the sound of your strawberry rhubarb crumble, yum ! And thank you for sharing your link – helloooo blood orange meringue pie, that’s just awesome ! And may just have to be next up for me ! But oooh, too bad the blood orange season here has just come to an end. 🙁 Hope you enjoy the Passover seder, do let me know what you end up making.

  11. Cheryl says:

    Thanks for the recipes, I love rhubarb and look forward to eating lots of it this spring. I’m keen to try the rhubarb meringue pie.

  12. blood, locusts and a rhubarb meringue pie « of agates and madeleines says:

    […] saw a wonderful version of this dessert earlier this week on MyKugelhopf. Kerrin had made a rhubarb (rhabarber for her and her Zurich compatriots) meringue pie, with a […]

  13. Emma says:

    I ended up making a versionof your rhubarb meringue pie for the Seder last night, it turned out pretty tasty!

  14. Kerrin says:

    Cheryl, you’re very welcome ! Hope you enjoy the pie ! Let me know what else you make this spring…

    Emma, I know !! I saw your awesome pink-tinted rhubarb meringue pie and I wish I could have tasted it too ! =) Psyched to see that you made it, thanks for sharing the link here.

  15. katy says:

    I love rhubarb desserts too! Rhubarb season always reminds me of my college roommate who said as a kid she’d take a cup of sugar into the garden, break off a stalk of rhubarb and dip and eat right there!! I just recently made a speculoos crust for Ina Garten’s frozen key lime pie. I’m a convert to speculoos crust vs. graham cracker – so much more flavor!

  16. Lani says:

    I really never tasted rhubarb until I tried it at a farm in the Hamptons one hot summer day and since then I am a lover! It has such a great taste and the color is just glorious. I would love to have a taste of your unconventional tarte one of these days! Your photos of the market are so full of life and springtime. Here in NY the skies are so gray and the weather is so not spring so thank you for a breathe of spring!!!

  17. Kerrin says:

    katy, oh wow, that is quite amazing about your college roommate – brings a whole new meaning to “fresh” ! Only, I don’t know about eating rhubarb raw… And I’m with you, speculoos over graham cracker crusts all the way ! Bet your frozen key lime pie was amazing. Thanks for sharing !

    Lani, I have a delicious memory of a strawberry rhubarb tart on the North Fork too – at Briermere Farms, so so good ! Glad to hear this post brought some sun and sweetness to your gray NYC skies…

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