brown sugar roast rhubarb with scotch shortbread

I realized after the fact that this recipe is pretty much a deconstructed crisp, though I really hate to use that word. Don’t you? “Deconstructed” makes me think posh-nosh foodie (another word I could do without), but its essence is something broken down into its parts or simplified, an attitude towards cooking an food in general from which we could all benefit. I love good ingredients and simple preparations that let them shine. This is a beautiful and simple dessert; nothing more than rhubarb roasted with a little brown sugar and wine, its pink tartness foiled by a buttery oat flecked scotch shortbread served alongside. 

Scotch shortbread is a charmingly simple cookie to make and serve. Rather than making individual cookies, you push the dough into the bottom of a cake or casserole pan and bake off one giant cookie which is then sliced into wedges. Because it’s a little thicker than a normal shortbread, scotch shortbread has a lovely soft, almost cake-like center surrounded by a crisp exterior. The addition of a little buckwheat flour along with the requisite oats makes this recipe unique. You could easily replace the buckwheat flour with all purpose or whole wheat flour for a more authentic version, but I do love the grainy flavor buckwheat brings and that slate grey color against the pink of the rhubarb. The roasted rhubarb is best served at room temperature or even cold from the fridge – its juices thicken and soak into the rhubarb as it cools. I like this just the way it is, but if you wanted to dress it up a bit, some vanilla ice cream or softly whipped cream would be a welcome addition. Serves 8-10. 

For the Rhubarb
1 ¼ lbs (about a pie pan’s worth) rhubarb, roughly chopped
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup white wine
1 tsp vanilla extract

Roast the Rhubarb:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss together all the ingredients in a pie plate or other oven safe pan. Roast 35-45 minutes until tender – I like to get it to the point where the pieces in the bottom of the pan are starting to fall apart, but the pieces on top still have some bite. 

For the Scotch Shortbread
375g, 1 ½ cups plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
175g, 1 ¼ cups plus 2 tbsp confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
380g, 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
65g, scant ½ cup buckwheat flour
85g, ¾ cup rolled oats
1 tsp salt
Confectioners sugar for dusting

Make the Shortbread:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat until soft and well combined (but not yet fluffy.) Add the vanilla, the flour, the buckwheat flour, the oats, and the salt and mix well, scraping down the sides intermittently. Pat the dough into a 12 inch spring form pan or 9×9 cake pan*. Using a chef knife, carefully score the shortbread into wedges (if using a round pan) or squares (if using the square). You may also want to prick the shortbread decoratively with a fork or skewer – I used a meat thermometer. Bake for 45-55 minutes until set, dry looking, and slightly golden around the edges. Cool 10-15 minutes and then, while still warm, cut along the pre-scored lines. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and serve. 
*A spring form pan works especially nicely here. I remove the sides of the pan to score the shortbread before baking and then again after baking to cut and serve.