Rhubarb has a special place in my heart. Not only is it the first “red thing” (red things are my favorite) to arrive at the market each spring, but it’s also a family favorite. Aaron and I went on a road trip a few months after we started dating and spent a few days with his grandparents up in Northern Minnesota. Rhubarb is one of the few things you can grow up in those parts, but it’s something I’d never even heard of before that trip. Well, lucky for me Grandma Cooky has one heck of a rhubarb recipe that instantly won me over. It took a few more trips up to Minnesota, but on the last one I was handed down the 150 year old family recipe for Rhubarb Johnny.
Rhubarb Johnny is kind of like a crumble, kind of like dumplings, but most of all it’s purely delicious. Rhubarb is actually a vegetable but it’s often used in desserts like crumbles or cobblers. On it’s own is a little tart, so usually recipes include a fair share of sugar to sweeten it up, and this one is no exception.
This recipe uses an egg and sugar base that coats the rhubarb slices and creates a sweet, gooey and slightly crispy layer.
I pulled my Rhubarb Johnny out of the oven and it looked a little different than when Aaron’s grandmother made it. That’s always a little scary… but I think my egg mixture just got a little excited along the way and wanted to play a bigger role. Looks can be deceiving though and quite frankly, I couldn’t see a way that this wouldn’t be delicious, so I soldiered on and scooped a slice for Aaron and I.
Now, here comes the secret. Ready? You have to pour heavy cream over the slice of Rhubarb Johnny. The first time it happened I thought my heart might stop, but it’s so dreamy that you should just not think about that part. Aaron and I each took a bite and instantly smiled. This was it. This is the taste of summer in Minnesota and family traditions that have made stomachs ache with happiness for five generations.
from Ray’s (Aaron’s Grandfather) Grandma Sjoberg
can be doubled for a thicker filling
2 cups rhubarb, cut 1/2″ or less
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
2 T flour
1 cup flour
4 T butter
1/4 t salt
2 t sugar
1/2 cup milk
Butter an 8×8 pan and set aside.
Beat eggs til foamy.
Add sugar and beat until thick and foamy. Add flour and stir.
Stir in chopped rhubarb and spread into buttered pan.
In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients for the drop biscuits. Cut in the butter to make a meal texture.
Add milk and drop by tablespoons over rhubarb.
Bake at 375° for 40 minutes.
Serve warm in a bowl with a little bit of cream over top.