UNDATED — BC-EVERYDAY-FOOD-RHUBARB-CAKE-ART-NYTSF — Finely ground freeze-dried fruit makes for colorful springtime cookies. (CREDIT: Anson Smart) -- ONLY FOR USE WITH ARTICLE SLUGGED — BC-EVERYDAY-FOOD-RHUBARB-CAKE-ART-NYTSF — OTHER USE PROHIBITED.
Photo: Anson Smart/Anson Smart
Photo: Anson Smart/Anson Smart

Sweets: Well rounded

When tart, juicy rhubarb teams up with an orange-scented cake, dessert nirvana is achieved. The stalks offer jammy brightness and a rosy hue, and a crunchy brown-sugar crumble is the crowning glory.

These pastel butter cookies are loaded with almonds, but their sweet colors and extra hits of flavor come from finely ground freeze-dried fruits (blueberry, raspberry and mango) mixed with powdered sugar.

RHUBARB CRUMB CAKE

Active Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Serves: 8

8 ounces rhubarb (about 3 stalks), halved lengthwise and cut into 3-inch pieces

1 cup granulated sugar

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for pan

1/2 cup light-brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus 6 tablespoons room-temperature butter, and more for pan

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs, room temperature

1/4 cup sour cream, room temperature

1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1 cup heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Toss rhubarb with 1/4 cup sugar. Let stand, tossing occasionally, until sugar dissolves, about 30 minutes. To make streusel, stir together 1/2 cup flour, brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Using your fingers, cut in cold butter until medium clumps form. Press mixture into bottom of bowl; refrigerate until ready to use, at least 20 minutes.

2. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan and line bottom with parchment; butter parchment. Dust pan with flour; tap out excess. Whisk together baking powder and remaining 1 1/4 cups flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. In another bowl, stir together room-temperature butter and remaining 3/4 cup sugar. Whisk in eggs, one at a time. Fold in half of flour mixture, then sour cream and zest. Stir in remaining flour mixture just to combine. Spread batter in bottom of prepared pan.

3. Break streusel into large pieces; sprinkle half over batter. Strain rhubarb (reserving syrup); scatter over batter, then top with rest of streusel. Bake until cake pulls away from sides of pan and a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes. Invert onto a wire rack; let cool completely. Whip cream to soft peaks; sweeten to taste with syrup. Whisk until soft peaks return and serve with cake.

PASTEL BUTTER COOKIES

Freeze-dried fruit can be found in the snack section of many grocery stores.

Active Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Makes: 40

1 cup whole blanched almonds

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar, plus more for pastel sugars

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Freeze-dried fruits in various colors, such as blueberries, raspberries and mangoes

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread almonds on a rimmed baking sheet; toast until golden and fragrant, about 12 minutes. Let cool completely.

2. Transfer almonds to the bowl of a food processor; add flour, salt and cinnamon. Process until nuts are finely chopped, about 1 minute.

3. Beat butter with powdered sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add vanilla; beat until combined. Slowly add almond mixture; beat on low until just incorporated.

4. Line baking sheets with parchment. Using a 1 1/2-inch (1-tablespoon) cookie scoop, drop dough onto prepared sheets. Bake, rotating halfway through, until edges are just turning golden, 14 to 16 minutes. Transfer sheets to a wire rack; let cool completely.

5. For each desired color, place 1/2 cup fruit with 1/2 cup powdered sugar in food processor; blend until smooth and evenly tinted. (Sugars can be stored in airtight containers up to 1 month.) Sift tinted sugar over cookies as desired. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

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