CSA Week 1- Rhubarb Blondies

Joy the Baker has a wonderful recipe for blondies that I have adopted as my own, using blackberry jam (not the brittle she called for), and I often bring these bars to picnics and get-togethers.  It's a non-chocolate option, which I know isn't the popular road to take, but they're absolutely delicious.  They're chewy in the best way, soft on the inside, and have a crisp edge to them.  They're a fantastic base for many things, but I love swirling jam along the top to make fruit blondies.
When I got rhubarb in my first CSA box, all I knew was that it looked like celery and there's a thing my granddaddy loved to eat called rhubarb pie.  I did some research and learned that rhubarb didn't become popular until the commercial success of sugar, because it was simply too tart on its own.  Also, the leaves are poisonous, so don't try to save those for other things.  But the stalk is delicious when sweetened a bit!  So I used up my rhubarb for my annual work picnic, making a bit of a rhubarb compote, spreading it on the amazing blondie base, and praying it would work!
It was absolutely a successful combination.  I loved these bars!  Rhubarb and sugar, heated and broken down.  Spread it over dough and bake!
Slice and serve.  You know the drill.  The tart rhubarb was delicious in the sweet bars, and I was sad to see the pan devoured by all my coworkers!  The next box I got that involved rhubarb, I made another compote and am eating it spooned over vanilla ice cream.  It's beyond the best.
A lot of people couldn't quite tell what I'd used.  They were used to my blackberry blondies, but not quite these.  When I told them it was rhubarb, the general consensus was "wait, that's rhubarb?!  Oh!"  I hope I enlightened a lot of people :-)
So explore some new flavors and produce the next time you go to the store!  Rhubarb is an excellent ingredient, and I loved these blondies!!
Rhubarb Blondies (adapted from Joy the Baker)
serves 24

2 cups all-purpose  flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2  tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) melted unsalted butter
2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup rhubarb compote (recipe below)

To make the rhubarb compote: Clean and slice your rhubarb stalks.  For every 1lb of rhubarb you have (about 4 cups sliced), use 2/3 cup sugar.  I had 10 oz rhubarb, and used between 1/3 and 1/2 cup sugar.  Add the rhubarb and sugar to a sauce pan and let sit for 10 minutes, so the rhubarb can release some liquid.  Heat the mixture over medium-high heat until it's boiling, stirring occasionally.  Lower the heat to medium low, stirring occasionally and breaking down the rhubarb.  It's ready to use when there are still some chunks of rhubarb in there, but I kept going until all of it was broken down- you can do either!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a 9x13 baking pan (line with foil and spray with oil, or just spray) and set aside. 

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside (flour to cinnamon).  Add the melted butter and melted butter to a medium bowl.  Stir until combined, the mixture will seem a bit grainy.  Add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix- the mixture will be glossy now.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mixing until just incorporated.  Spread the mixture in the 9x13 baking pan.  Spoon the rhubarb compote over the dough, kind of swirling it into the top a bit (but the dough will rise around the jam, so don't worry about pretty patterns, just don't spread it uniformly over the dough!).

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the center is set.  The edges will crisp up, and the whole thing will rise up and turn golden, so don't take it out yet if the edges have risen up but not the center!

Let cool, slice, and serve!  Delicious served warm or at room temperature, with or without ice cream.

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