We chopped those thick stalks down and tossed them into a pot with a scoop of sugar, a pinch of salt (don't forget this!) and a healthy splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Cooked down until the rhubarb had softened, the jam was ready when it had begun to thicken and the tart pieces began to break down. If you don't trust your judgment on if the mixture has cooked enough, you can spoon a bit onto a plate and put it in the refrigerator - if it has thickened to a jam-like consistency when it is cold, you've got it. If it is still quite runny, let it cook for a couple more minutes. To keep the jam from continuing to cook, we plunged the bottom of the pot into a bowl of icy water to quickly cool down before stashing it away in the refrigerator (I did this on Monday to get it out of the way).
The cookies were prepared using a classic shortbread base, made with 5 simple ingredients - creamy butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla, flour and salt. Because the dough is on the softer side, you'll need to chill it at least a couple hours before rolling it out - feel free to make it a day ahead of time just like the jam, but you'll want to take it out 5 to 10 minutes before trying to work with it.
Using a round, scalloped-edge cookie cutter to stamp out the dough, we set all of them onto parchment-lined baking sheets, then stashed them into the freezer to firm back up. You'll have scraps leftover, which can be re-chilled and rolled again to maximize your yield. Before we started baking the cookies, we took a small cutter and pulled out small heart shapes from half of the cookies, then re-chilled those to ensure they keep their shape. When baking, the cookies will be done when their edges just barely begin to brown.
I went ahead and baked off those hearts we pulled out too, sprinkling them with a bit of sparkly vanilla sugar first - you could just add them back into the scraps to re-roll, but I thought these would be a fun bonus!
These elegant sandwiches are brought together by smearing a bit of the homemade jam on top of a whole cookie, then setting one of the punched out cookies over, making for an attractive tease as to what's between the two. The cookies themselves are crisp, yet quite buttery that they easily melt away in your mouth. While the jam was sweet, the rhubarb shined through with its contrasting tartness, creating an irresistible combination that I had a hard time keeping my spoon out of!
Jeff did comment on how much he loved the whisper of clean brightness the lemon juice added - not so much that it would interfere with the pureness of rhubarb, but enough to do its job. My jam wasn't as candy-apple red as pictured in the original recipe, however, the natural blush color didn't bother me at all. I guess you could add a few drops of red coloring, but neither of us thought it was necessary.
To keep the integrity (crispness!) of the cookies, I just assembled enough for us to test and photograph tonight - I'll be up early putting the rest together!