I had never seen rhubarb in person until I moved to New York, but let’s just say it was love at first sight. Super tart and brightly colored, this is the sort of thing my springtime dessert dreams are made of—strawberries strictly optional.
Now, I have no real reason to make pie this spring, but that doesn’t mean I’m skipping rhubarb season. Ohhh no. As soon as I spied a pile of hot pink stalks at the market a few weeks ago, I grabbed more than I probably needed and promptly went home to make this tart.I love tarts like this one. They’re so uncomplicated. So unfussy and uncluttered. So rustic. So classy. So freakin’ easy.Regarding the crust, you can follow my lead by making your own flaky, buttery rough puff, or make it easy and use thawed frozen puff pastry. Don’t have European butter in this pandemic? Neither do I! Use whatever you have.The filling couldn’t be simpler. Rhubarb stalks are sliced into thin pieces, arranged on the pastry in whatever fashion makes you happy, sprinkled with sugar and dotted with butter. Bake the tart until the crust is golden and the rhubarb is soft, then paint on warm honey for a little extra sweetness and shine. Since this tart doesn’t have any berries to offset the tanginess of the rhubarb, that hint of honey goes a long way.Where pies are thick and take hours to cool, this tart is so thin that it only needs 45-60 minutes to reach room temperature. The flavor is more tangy than it is sweet, but the flaky crust and a dollop of whipped cream (or ice cream, if you have it) round things out nicely. Also, it’s pretty—pretty delicious!Need a reason to make a Rhubarb Tart? Well, first of all, we are in a pandemic and you can have whatever dessert you want and anyone who says otherwise is flat wrong. But also, it’s perfect for celebrating literally any day of the week or that you put on real pants or that you didn’t see anyone not wearing a face-covering today.
If you’re slightly less weird than I am and are cooped up with anyone who identifies as a mother, I have it on good authority that this would make a fine Mother’s Day dessert. But really, any old occasion will do.
makes one tart, about 8 servings
Rough Puff Pastry:*
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
5 ounces (10 tablespoons) unsalted European-style butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup water or milk, very cold
For the tart:
4-5 stalks rhubarb, washed and trimmed
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons honey, agave or maple syrup
sweetened whipped cream
vanilla ice cream
Make the pastry. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.
Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8×10″ rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8×10″ rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.
Make the tart. Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed quarter-sheet pan or jelly roll pan with parchment.
Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Unfold dough. Roll dough out to 10×14-inch rectangle. Transfer dough to the prepared pan. Trim any excess overhang. Dock center of the dough with a fork. Refrigerate while you prepare the rhubarb.
Using a large sharp chef’s knife, slice each stalk of rhubarb lengthwise once (or twice, depending on their width), until each long piece is about 1/2-inch wide. Then slice those long pieces into 4-inch lengths.
Arrange rhubarb pieces decoratively over the crust. Scatter sugar over the top and dot with butter. Bake 28-30 minutes, until edges are puffed and golden brown. Large bubbles may form during baking. Just pop them with a fork or sharp knife.
Let tart cool completely in the pan on a rack.
Warm honey (or agave or maple) slightly to loosen—about 10 seconds in the microwave should do it. Use a pastry brush to apply it to the soft rhubarb.
Use parchment to remove tart to a cutting board. Remove parchment. Slice into pieces. Serve immediately with whipped cream or ice cream.
Tart is best eaten the day it’s made as crust will soften dramatically over time. Leftover slices may be layered with wax paper or parchment and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.
You may use frozen all-butter puff pastry instead. Thaw according to package directions and begin the recipe at the paragraph that begins “Make the tart.”