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I have really been enjoying Liana Krissoff's book Canning for a New Generation . It's fresh, pretty and packed with great tips and ideas. It's so homey and personable I feel like Liana and I are old friends, though we've never met.
One dilemma of pie-making is thickening the filling without turning it to gelatinous rubber. This recipe has the perfect solution - macerating the fruit then reducing the juice. It's an inspiring technique I can't wait to try on other fruits.
"This method... yields a filling of tender (but not at all mushy) fruit in a thick, tart syrup that's deeply rhubarb-flavored because none of the juice is drained off - it's simply cooked down and drizzled over the tarts after they come out of the oven."
"Serve these with a drift of whisked sour cream or plain thin yogurt sweetened with a bit of honey or agave nectar." Of course, that's Liana talking. Myself, I say go full fat with some rich vanilla ice cream, home made whipped cream or Devonshire Cream.
1 1/2 pounds frozen rhubarb cut into 1/2 inch slices (I used fresh and it worked fine)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 vanilla bean (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 recipe Basic Pie Crust***
4 pats unsalted butter
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon coarse turbinado sugar
Put the rhubarb in a colander and run cold water over it for a minute or so, gently breaking apart the pieces. Transfer to a large bowl and add the granulated sugar. If using, split the vanilla bean, scrape the seeds into the bowl, and nestle the pods in the rhubarb. cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight. Remove the vanilla bean pods and set them aside for another use. Turn the rhubarb mixture out into a colander set over a small saucepan and stir gently to drain as much of the liquid off as possible. Return the rhubarb to a bowl and add the cinnamon, if using, the lemon juice and the flour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Put the saucepan over high heat and boil until the syrup is reduced by half, 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside.
Meanwhile, divide the dough into 4 pieces and roll them out on a floured work surface 1/8 inch thick. Cut an 8-inch round from each. Divide the rhubarb mixture among the rounds, piling it high in the center. For each tart, fold the edges of the dough up over the filling toward the center, pleating it four or five times around the circumference so that it covers all but about 2 inches of the filling in the center of the tart, and making sure that any tears in the dough are pinched closed. Dot the exposed filling with butter, brush the edges of the dough with the milk and sprinkle all over with the turbinado sugar.
Transfer the tarts to the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until well browned and bubbly. Spoon some of the reduced syrup over the filling in each tart. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.
*** Here I deviate - I have made these tarts using the recipe for the author's Easy Pie Dough, but my preference is for Martha Stewart's Basic Pie Crust. I add the optional sugar when making fruit pies.