This tart may look like a breath of fresh air, like birds chirping outside your window, like the first seedlings of spring shooting their way out of the formerly barren earth.
But don’t be fooled by that flaky buttery crust or that sweet tart heavenly center or that luscious almond streusel topping.
Anything this good has to come at a price. That’s a cold hard truth.
And believe you me when I say that it is laced with deception and duplicity.
Yes, I had to lie, cheat, and steal (but just a little) in order to get it to you.
And I would do it again. In a heartbeat.
It all started on Sunday when I went to Whole Foods in search of the pretty-in-pink stalk that we all know, love and are minorly obsessed with.
And they were out.
Fiddlehead ferns, ramps, and all manner of strange tropical fruits from Asia and South America were in abundance. But rhubarb? I looked in every nook, cranny and left not a single passionfruit unturned. To no avail.
I am reticent to place blame, but I must say that everything that follows is a direct result of this lack of foresight on Whole Foods’ part. They would have never put up with the hijinks and shenanigans that follow. Just saying.
So what is a girl in search of one very particular rhizome to do, other than to try her luck at the local supermarket?
I’ll admit, my hopes were not high given that avocados are considered a rare and exotic fruit in this particular chain and as such are stocked only on the rarest of occasions (the third Tuesday of every month that coincides with a full moon, or something like that). (I swear, sometimes I wonder if I really live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and not in some po’dunk town in middle-of-nowhere America).
But I walked into the produce section and there it was, in all of its crimson glory. Hallelujah.
So I did what any normal food blogger would do, which is stuff every last stalk into my cart with no consideration for a single other customer and their potential rhubarb needs. And went to pay.
As I lovingly placed my beloved stalks on the conveyor belt, the cashier eyed them suspiciously. Squinted. Stared. And finally said, “What is that?”
“Rhubarb,” I told her.
Yes, I nodded.
She continued to stare, finally turning to the cashier behind her. “Do you know what the code for this is?”
“What is it?”
She tells her and then they both start scrambling through their book of produce codes until the other cashier says, “I found it! 4847.”
She types it in, and up on the monitor it says. Swiss Chard @ 1.99/pound.
And really, this is the moment of truth, people. The moment that decided whether I am an ethically sound individual or whether I am morally bereft and void of any values at all whatsoever.
I think you know what happened.
I eyed the customers behind me in line. They didn’t seem to notice or care (or they had no idea what rhubarb or swiss chard were either).
I eyed the cashier. She looked completely content with herself.
And so. I swiped my credit card. (I am not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, especially not when it involves paying $2 less per pound. Even in the face of dishonesty and moral perversity.)
So there you have it.
And you have been forewarned. This tart and the promise of all the delicious happiness that it will bring into your life may force you into compromising situations and may lead you to do completely uncharacteristic things.
Just do them. We can make better, more honorable decisions tomorrow. But today? Trust me. It’s worth it.
Rhubarb Streusel Tart
Makes 1 9-inch tart, adapted from Dana Treat
For the Crust:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 egg yolks
For the Streusel:
- 6 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 1/2 tbsp almond paste
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup spelt flour or all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
For the Filling:
- 1 1/2 lb rhubarb, thinly sliced
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- For the crust, blend the flour, sugar, salt and butter in a food processor or in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until butter is the size of peas. Whisk the egg yolks in an 1/4 cup measuring cup and then add enough cold water to make it 1/4 cup. Add to the flour mixture. Mix until the dough just starts to come together, adding cold water a tbsp at a time, if necessary. Gather the dough, shape it into a disc, cover in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.
- To make the streusel, combine the butter, almond paste, sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a food processor and process until the mixture is in fine crumbles. Refrigerate until needed.
- Allow the dough to stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. Roll on a lightly floured surface into a 1/2-inch-thick disc, rotating the dough frequently to avoid sticking. Transfer to a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Ease the dough into the pan, fitting it to the pan’s contours with your fingertips. Trim the edges by rolling the pin over the rim and discarding (eating) the trimmings. Freeze until the shell is firm, about 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375.
- To make the rhubarb filling, combine the rhubarb, brown sugar, and ground cinnamon in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the rhubarb is fall-apart tender, about 10 minutes.
- Fill the tart shell with the rhubarb mixture. Sprinkle on the streusel and transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake until the streusel is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Use a small knife to gently loosen the crust from the tart pan. Push up pan from bottom to release tart.