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Monday, July 30, 2007

Individual Rhubarb Tarts

I love rhubarb. As a child we had a defiant little patch of rhubarb that thwarted all of my mothers efforts to remove or relocate it. In the summer when it was ripe we would sometimes sprinkle sugar on the stalk and eat it straight from the dirt. The tangy piquant taste is still my favorite for a fruit pie. My great grandmother was famous for her rhubarb pies, which generally ran to rhubarb, strawberry rhubarb, and rhubarb custard. Unfortunately the Midwest has a short growing season for rhubarb, so I was delighted to see it was still available in Seattle. For an updated presentation, I put together mini rhubarb tarts with a simple mint garnish. I wanted a more adult taste that really embraced the natural tartness of the rhubarb, so I cut back on the sugar, which had the added benefit of making this a more healthful dessert.

These adorable tiny tarts are perfect for serving to guests at the end of dinner, but are also lovely to bring with you to any occasion that requires a dish. They pass well at a cocktail style party, are attractive enough to dress up to a more formal setting, but are also unassuming enough to go along to an informal summer BBQ.


2 cups diced rhubarb
3 Tbsp sugar
2-3 Tbsp Cabernet
Pinch ground cloves (less than 1/8 tsp)
1/8-1/4 ground cinnamon
pinch salt

Optional thickener:
1 tsp flour
1 tsp half and half

15 philo cups
mint to garnish

Cook diced rhubarb in nonstick pan until softened, stirring often to avoid sticking. As they beginning to produce liquid, add the sugar and 1 Tbsp of the Cabernet. When they have softened entirely, add the rest of the Cabernet and the spices. At this point it should be a beautiful color a cross between rubies and garnets.

If you prefer a slightly thicker presentation, mix 1 tsp of flour with 1 tsp of half and half to produce a 'slurry.' Stir this into the rhubarb mixture and cook for 3-5 minutes on moderate heat before adding the remaining 2 Tbsp of Cabernet. This will produce a lighter pink color in the final fruit filling.

Spoon rhubarb mixture into frozen prepared philo cups. If you are adept at using philo, you are of course welcome to make your own, but I find the prepared ones a reasonable substitute. Garnish with mint leaves. You may also garnish with a light zesting of orange with a microplane zester, or a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Because the nutritional content of commercially prepared phillo cups can vary widely, I have only included the nutritional information for the filing in this recipe, including the optional flour and fat free half and half thickener.

Makes 15 servings. Nutritional Information FOR FILLING ONLY: 17 calories, 0 g fat, 0.3 g fiber, 12 mg sodium.

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