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Rhubarb Shortbread


This recipe is courtesy of Gale Grand from "Baking with Julia" (William Morrow) by Dorie Greenspan and Julie Child.

  • Yield: Makes 12 to 24 bars

Source: Martha Stewart Living, July 2002



  • 1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting


  1. Make the jam: Combine rhubarb, sugar, and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan. Split vanilla bean, scrape the seeds into the pan, and toss in the pod. Bring to a simmer over low heat, cook, stirring often, until rhubarb softens and forms a soft mass, about 10 minutes. Remove and discard vanilla bean. Transfer to a shallow bowl and let cool. Can be made ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to one week. If refrigerated, return to room temperature before using. You may substitute 1 cup of your favorite jam or preserves for the homemade.

  2. Make the shortbread: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on high speed until pale and fluffy. Add egg yolks and sugar, and beat until sugar is dissolved and the mixture is light. Reduce mixer speed to low, and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until the ingredients are incorporated.

  3. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and cut into two pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in freezer until firm, about 30 minutes. Can be made ahead and frozen for up to one month. Thaw in refrigerator overnight.

  4. Assemble and bake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in center. Remove one ball of dough from freezer and, using the large holes on a box grater, grate the dough into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Pat the dough gently just to get it into the corners (you don't want to press it down), and spread with the rhubarb jam. Grate the remaining dough over the jam, and press it lightly to distribute it evenly.

  5. Bake until golden brown, about 40 minutes. Dust with confectioners' sugar as soon as it is removed from oven. Cool on a wire rack.

  6. Cut the shortbread into bars when it is cool. You can cut whatever size bars please you, although as a rough guide, 3-inch squares, or rectangles 1 1/2 inches by 3 inches make nice servings. Store covered at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Reviews Add a comment

  • BBW123
    25 JAN, 2012
    I wanted to make some changes to my last comment. I should of followed the recipe. Less filling is better. I put too much and they weren't as dry as I would have liked. Also, make sure you get jam that has less sugar. A great brand is E.D. Smith that I got at Costco. It has more fruit & 1/2 the sugar that regular preserves have. They make all kinds. I used the Cherry and it was fantastic and I used some off brand for the strawberry which was tooooo sweet. ED Smith also makes a rhubarb.
  • BBW123
    22 JAN, 2012
    Excellent recipe. I made it half strawberry jam and the other half cherry jam (my son does not like cherry). You definately need more that one cup of jam....need 2 cups plus for the 9X13 baking dish--this way you have more of a filling. They turned out beautiful and the shortbread cookie on the top and bottom was wonderful. Just had one with my morning cup of tea.
  • Juliacr
    15 NOV, 2011
    Does this really qualify as a shortbread if the recipe calls for egg yolks? This may be more of a bar cookie.
  • Fashionista
    21 JUN, 2010
    Responding to BKGWIN's email.... I substitute Splenda for sugar. 1 c sugar = 1 c Splenda I also use half the amount of butter and sustitute the half with apple sauce. Happy baking !
  • MS12328933
    20 JUN, 2010
    Gluten-Free Flour Mixes - I found this website that has a bunch of gluten-free mixes that you can use and substitute for wheat flour 1:1 ratio. You might have to experiment since the gluten in wheat is critical to some recipes, but I noticed that some mixes have a binder, of sorts, in them. Good luck!
  • MS12328933
    20 JUN, 2010
    I didn't bother with the vanilla bean since I didn't have one on hand so I just used 1t vanilla extract. A good source for vanilla beans and all sorts of spices is Penzeys. They have stores, but I use their mail-order since none are close to me. To the comment about the high-carb count. This recipe isn't exactly on the healthy list. I say enjoy it as it is in moderation or don't bother. Agree with cookieace, shortbread is all about the butter! Perfect combo of butter and sugar.
  • Fashionista
    18 JUN, 2010
    Does anyone know how many cups 1 pound rhubarb is?
  • bkgwin
    13 JUN, 2010
    Can an alternative sweetner be used? The recipe has a lot of carbs! Can you show a breakdown of nutrition and caloric values? I have to watch my calorie intake as well as salt and fat content.
  • muffi911
    9 JUN, 2010
    how to convert this too glutin free - is a recipe for glutin free shortbread using rice and arrowroot flour - then grate it as per normal shortbread - will this subsitute just as easily???
  • pglidden
    8 JUN, 2010
    I found vanilla beans at my local grocery store, in the spices section, for $22 each. Then I found them on-line a Beanilla at: I paid only $3.45 for 3 vanilla beans, plus shipping! I've ordered vanilla beans from them ever since.: