The first time I had rhubarb, I thought it was stringy and sour (I was 9 or so), I didn’t like it at all. Over the years (many of them), I have had a chance to try rhubarb in different ways – tarts, pies, with other fruit, compotes etc. That’s when I discovered what a wonderful vegetable (yes it really is a vegetable but quite often referred to as a fruit) it is.  These Rhubarb and Custard Tarts are a must make and very worthy of being added to your fast and easy dessert recipe repertoire.  

First off, if you have never tried rhubarb raw, you must. It is much like the leaves of a beet in flavor. Wait, I said taste similar to beet leaves  – don’t eat the leaves of the rhubarb – they are poisonous. You typically won’t find rhubarb sold with the leaves on in a store. But the bright red or green stalks raw are great in a salad. It provides a nice tangy bite that is delicately crunchy with a unique sour taste. So, raw or cooked, this is a nice item to add to your seasonal cooking.

Rhubarb was in the topping of this tart. I made a simple compote – sugar and chopped rhubarb. An equally simple custard that serves as the filling. The custard is made in one-pot that you cook on the stove – no double boiler needed. Just add the eggs, cream, corn starch, vanilla and sugar to the pot over a medium heat and whisk away until it thickens up. In about 5 minutes, you have this thickened not too sweet but oh so creamy custard. If you want to lick the bowl (after it cools down of course), go ahead, just make sure no one is watching or you might have to share. Puff pastry – oh my favorite of all pastries, forms the shell of the tart.

You can still get rhubarb in stores, I know it’s late or past the season, but if you can find some, do this recipe. One roll of puff pastry and a mini-muffin tin makes 24 two bite tarts. You don’t need a lot of rhubarb, just a few stalks. I got mine from John and Alysha – thanks guys! As always – enjoy!

Rhubarb Compote
3 large stalks of rhubarb cut into ½” pieces
1 ¼ cup of sugar – divided
2 tbsp. water
Optional – 1 pint of blackberries

In a non-stick pot (just makes cleaning easier), add the rhubarb, sugar and water
Over a medium flame, stir to combine – and stir periodically during the cooking process
After 10 minutes, taste the compote – does it need more sugar? Add the remaining sugar a little at a time, or all at once depending on the taste of the compote – continue to cook until the sugar has melted, about 15 – 20 minutes
Add some fresh blackberries or strawberries or any other type of berry once you turn off the compote – the heat will soften up the berries but still allow them to keep their shape

Custard filling and Puff Pastry Shell
1 egg plus 3 egg yolks
1 cup milk (I used 1%, the higher the fat content the richer the custard)
3/4 cup 35% whipping cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp vanilla

1/2 pkg PC Puff Pastry sheets, thawed (available at any of the Loblaw chain of stores, you get two individually wrapped pieces in each box)

Thaw one roll of puff pastry – this will take about 45 minute to 1 hour at room temperature or overnight in the fridge
While the pastry is thawing, make the custard
Combine the egg yolks, egg, milk, cream, sugar and cornstarch in a large saucepan and set over medium heat
Whisk until the mixture thickens – this should take about 7 minutes
Add the vanilla and stir – then scrape into a bowl
Lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming
Store the custard in the fridge if not using right away
While the custard cools, cut the puff pastry squares

Unroll the sheet and cut into 5 equal lengths and 5 equal widths – this will give you 25 squares about 1.5″ square – if the squares are too soft and sticky, place the entire sheet into the freezer for 5 – 10 minutes, remove and carefully push each piece into the hole of the muffin tin. Don’t worry about trying to get perfect squares, they will puff up and look beautiful once baked
If your tins are new non-stick or without scratches, you don’t have to spray it before using. If your tins are well used (scratched, dented, rusted – buy new ones!), then spray with oil
Place 1 tsp of the cooled custard into the puff pastry shell and top with a small amount of the rhubarb compote and berry mixture
Bake at 400 for 17 – 20 minutes until the custard has puffed up – note, it will collapse once out of the oven
Let cool and enjoy!