Can I tell you guys a secret?
One that you promise to never, ever judge me for, no matter what?
Okay, I trust you.
Are you ready?
Here it is:
I… don’t think I like pie very much.
I know, I know, as a dessert blogger, I really should LOVE pie. But I just don’t… for several reasons. The first of which, it’s just no fun to make pie like it is to make something like this elaborate chocolate chip cake or this white chocolate malt cake. I mean, I guess you could argue that lattice pies are fun to make, but part of it is, I’m just not the world’s best pie maker. I adamantly believe in all-butter crusts and because I have super warm hands, my pie dough ends up sticking to surfaces and I end up throwing it out in disgust. The pies that do come out never look as good as the pies I see on Pinterest, and instead come out lumpy or misshapen.
And sure, I do love the taste of pie, but maybe there’s a trick I’m missing because most of my pies turn soggy after a day or two. What I really love is when it’s just fresh out the oven, and there’s a wonderful contrast between the flaky, crispy crust and the warm fruit filling… but again, it seems like there’s only a 45 minute window in which I can actually get that texture.
So when I made the rhubarb curd above, I’d initially planned to turn it into some kind of pie or tart, similar to this meyer lemon chess pie or these lime meringue tartlets. But one of the most appealing things about curd is that it preserves the fruit it’s made from. But if I poured the rhubarb curd into the tart shell, I’d have to eat it as soon as possible in order to prevent getting the soggy crust that I hate. And an entire rhubarb curd pie in one day is a little intense. So… what if I just skipped that step entirely?
So behold, this new dessert, a kind of deconstructed rhubarb pie — that is, a bowl of rhubarb curd, pie crust crumble and vanilla meringues:
Last month, when I made these strawberry Eton mess bowls, I realized that desserts didn’t necessarily have to be elaborate or fancy to be delicious. Despite the fact that Eton messes are literally just bowls of crushed meringues, whipped cream and fruit, it was still an incredibly tasty and awesome dessert because of the ingredients’ differing textures.
Similarly, these rhubarb curd bowls have that same sort of magic. That is, there’s a wonderful contrast between the tart, creamy rhubarb curd, the buttery pie crumbs, and the crisp, foamy vanilla meringues. The neat thing is that you can make all three components of the recipe in advance and build the bowls as you crave them. It’s a great way to preserve the last of the season rhubarb, and as well as pull together a beautiful dessert in less than a moment’s notice.
Some baker’s notes:
- Depending on the color of your rhubarb, your curd might turn out a different color, anywhere from a pale yellow to a pinky rose. Select deep purplish/reddish rhubarb to get the orange-red color that you see in my photos.
- The recipe for pie crust crumble is adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar’s cookbook, which offers numerous recipes for different kinds of “crumbs”. These crumbs give all the flavor and texture of pie crust, minus the fuss of a traditional pie crust. But if you can’t be bothered to make crumbs from scratch (because let’s face it, that is kind of ridiculous), you can take your favorite shortbread cookie and run it through the food processor to make shortbread crumbles instead.
- I made the mini meringues using the meringue recipe from my 12 Days of Christmas Desserts ebook. I know it’s a little out of season, but it’s completely free for people to download. Check it out!
- Not convinced by my dessert bowls? Use rhubarb curd elsewhere by spreading it on toast, pancakes, waffles, donuts and more!
Rhubarb Curd with Pie Crust Crumble and Vanilla Meringues
For the Rhubarb Curd
(makes about 2 cups)
- 8 ounces fresh rhubarb, ends trimmed and chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 vanilla bean pod
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
For the Pie Crust Crumble
(makes around 1 1/2 cups)
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 1/4 teaspoons water
For the Rhubarb Curd
- Place 8 ounces trimmed and chopped rhubarb in a small, heavy-bottomed sauce pan with enough water just to cover the rhubarb. Scrape the vanilla seeds from the 1/2 vanilla bean pod into the mixture, before throwing the pod into the mixture as well. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes until the rhubarb is soft and you have a pink juice. Strain out rhubarb pieces and vanilla pod and let cool. Measure out 2/3 cup of juice for the curd.
- In another medium, heavy-bottomed sauce pan, whisk together 2/3 cup rhubarb juice (from the 1st step), 2/3 cup sugar, and 4 large eggs. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the sides and bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon, just until the internal temperature reaches 170 (F). If you don’t have a thermometer, watch for the mixture to thicken until it is able to coat the back of the spoon.
- Once the mixture has reached 170 (F) and coats the back of a wooden spoon, remove from heat and whisk in 1/2 cup unsalted, cubed butter a few pieces at a time, only adding the next cubes when the cubes before have melted. Once all the butter has been added, strain through a fine mesh sieve and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Once the curd has cooled to room temperature, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours until firm. The rhubarb will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
For the Pie Crust Crumble
- Preheat the oven to 350 (F). Prepare a baking pan by lining with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.
- In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Mix together on low speed until combined.
- Add 1/4 cup melted butter and 2 1/4 teaspoons water on low speed until the mixture starts to come together in small clusters.
- Spread the clusters on the prepared baking pan and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, using a bench scraper to break the clusters up occasionally. After 25 minutes, the crumbs should be golden brown and slightly moist to the touch — they will dry and harden as they cool. Allow the crumbs to cool to room temperature on their baking sheet in a wire rack.
- Let the crumbs cool for about 10 – 15 minutes, before sprinkling in a bowl of rhubarb and meringues. However, the crumbs will keep fresh for up to 1 week at room temperature if stored in an airtight container.