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What are the Different Types of Rhubarb Desserts?

By S. McNesby
Updated May 17, 2024
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Rhubarb's tart flavor adds pungent taste and extra punch to many different types of desserts. This vegetable can be used to make baked desserts like cakes, cupcakes, and cookies, pies and tarts, muffins and quick breads, and even ice cream, toppings, and frozen desserts. Rhubarb needs to be prepared properly and sweetened to taste, though different rhubarb desserts will call for different sugar ratios. Desserts made from rhubarb can be enjoyed during the summer, or rhubarb can be preserved to enjoy throughout the year.

While rhubarb can be eaten raw, it has an extremely tart taste that most people do not enjoy. Cooking rhubarb desserts usually requires a sweetener. White sugar, honey, and maple syrup all work well in rhubarb desserts. Sweeteners are usually added to rhubarb desserts after the rhubarb has been cooked; it will sweeten slightly during the cooking process.

Baked rhubarb desserts can be served hot from the oven and topped with ice cream or whipped cream. Dairy products complement the tangy, sweet flavor of rhubarb desserts. Cobblers, buckles, and crumbles can be made from rhubarb and served hot or cold any time of year. Baked goods like cookies, cakes, and cupcakes can be made using chopped or pureed rhubarb. Rhubarb can be used in any baked goods that call for mashed or pureed pumpkin or squash; it can also be used as a substitute for peaches and other stone fruits.

This versatile vegetable can also be used to make hot or cold toppings for ice cream, or to make ice cream itself. Rhubarb ice cream has a pale pink color and a sweet but tart taste similar to strawberry. Frozen tortes and layered desserts can be made with rhubarb as well. Rhubarb desserts designed to be served cold or frozen usually require a higher sugar ratio than those meant to be served hot or at room temperature.

The tart taste of rhubarb comes from its high acid content. Oxalic acid is very sour and will also cause some metals to react poorly and discolor. Rhubarb should not be cooked in aluminum, copper, or iron pots or pans; both the pan and the rhubarb will be ruined.

A home garden can be used to grow rhubarb; it can also be found in farmer's markets and grocery stores in season. Rhubarb can be cooked and frozen or canned until needed. Most desserts made from rhubarb freeze well and can be enjoyed months after the original harvest for a taste of summer any time of year.

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Discussion Comments
By ysmina — On Nov 25, 2014

@fBoyle-- But rhubarb crisp is so good. It's one of my favorite desserts. It's delicious. Since I see rhubarb and strawberries together in many recipes, I think you can add rhubarb to many strawberry desserts with success.

By candyquilt — On Nov 25, 2014

@fBoyle-- You could make a rhubarb panna cotta. You could also make a nice rhubarb syrup to combine with different types of cake, custard or mousse.

As you mentioned, there are a myriad of things you could do with rhubarb. Since this is a tart plant though, I think it matches best with other light ingredients like milk, cream and light cakes. You would want to make the other ingredients sweeter to counter the tartness of the rhubarb. I think it works wonderfully with a sweet custard or you could just make rhubarb ice cream.

By fBoyle — On Nov 24, 2014

When people think about desserts involving rhubarb, two seem to come to mind immediately -- rhubarb crisp and rhubarb dessert bars. I like both of these recipes but I really think that something else can be done. I want to try something new and unique.

I realize that technically, lots of different things could be done. I guess I'm just in need of a recommendation. Does anyone have an interesting rhubarb dessert recipe?

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