Saturday, June 28, 2014

Strawberry rhubarb custard bars

how to philosophize with cake rhubarb strawberry custard bars

When you’re depressed, one of the first things that goes away is your motivation. You will go from your own hero to zero faster than you can say “hey that’s a Katy Perry lyric”. You will find it awfully difficult to do basic things like brushing your teeth, mostly because that requires getting up and going into the bathroom and putting toothpaste on the brush and ugh so much work. Effort becomes the one true evil in the world (besides your own shitty self, obviously).

Or at least that was my experience. Not a doctor, just being honest here.

As of late, I’ve been starting to get a little bit better, but my motivation is still in the pits. In fact, there are about three whole things on the list of shit I can motivate myself to do without much trouble:

1. Sleep.

2. Eat.

3. ???

This is somewhat troublesome, as next year is gonna be a big one school-wise, and it’s probably not a good idea to go in with an iron resistance to all forms of exertion. What to do?

Motivational posters!

Those bitches are great. A nice stock photo; some sort of modern-day virtue emblazoned beneath it (e.g. “success”, “fitness”); an explanatory caption, oftentimes a quote. One glance and you are pumped up and ready to go. They are also great for reminding you to step back and reward yourself with a nice big slab of cake every time you get shit done. Because, yum!

Thing is, I don’t have any motivational posters. But never fear, the internet is here!—and you can make your own posters for free!—and, being a kind and generous and benevolent creature, I am letting you have a glimpse at my own inspiration-filled e-posters! No need to thank me.

follow your dreams please don't take that literally

I like that one. It’s always good to be a realist. Frankly, if my dreams came true, I would be terrified.

preparation if you fail to prepare, you might as well go home and take a nap

Naps are awesome. Great for powering up for a good night’s rest.

moving forward even if you fall on your face bitch

Graceful as fuck. Bout to head-butt your motivation like a boss. I think?

kindness it is always possible if not practical

It’s hard enough to be kind to oneself, goddamit, let alone all of the dumbasses of the world. I’ll take practicality.

hard work without it weeds will grow although dandelions are quite pretty sometimes

Look! I bet there are a lot of dandelions in that valley right there. You can’t explain that.

take action do it now change your life even though you're still a goddamn infant and can't do shit

I mean, changing your life sounds great, but I’m basically powerless. Aren’t we all slaves to the system? Isn’t life fine?

read the recipe seriously read the whole recipe first before you do anything at all please

Anyway. Wasn’t that inspiring? It’s nice to have a healthy mix of delusional optimistic fantasizing and straight reality, isn’t it?

So what does this all have to do with the recipe at hand today?

Nothing. Or actually, a little bit—it takes motivation to bake something that has not one, not two, but three whole goddamn layers. Like, you have to get out of bed and brush your teeth and drink a few gallons of coffee and slurp down a bowl of cereal and ugh, so much work. So much effort. Life is hard.

Okay, I exaggerated a little there. This recipe is actually somewhat easy, compared to the other stuff I have up my sleeve for the coming days. You cut some butter into flour and sugar and bake it for a few minutes. Blend together a simple custard filling, chop up some strawberries and rhubarb, and pour over the crust. Stick the whole shebang back in the oven for forty minutes and faff around for an hour or so until it’s all cooled. Smear on the whipped topping. And by whipped topping I don’t mean Cool Whip, but, like, it’s fine if you want to use that. I’m just partial to the idea of whipped topping. Whipped things are cool.

strawberry rhubarb custard bars tofu vegan
Not that this rudely naked pan of custard cares.

This recipe is slightly ever so mildly special to me because it is a from-scratch, vegan, strawberry-infused take on the rhubarb bars my mom used to make in the springtime, back when my brother and I were young. I wasn’t interested in baking or anything back then, but I knew this shit was mad addictive. Cooking Light, my ass—this is good old fashioned comfort food, ‘Murican style, complete with low-fat cream cheese and Cool Whip and plenty of flour ‘n’ butter. I haven’t changed that aspect of it—well, maybe the Cool Whip part—but I’m sure you could substitute coconut oil (didn’t have any on hand when I made this) and white whole wheat flour in the crust if you want to up the nutritional content a little. The custard already has a bunch of tofu, so, you know, protein.

whipped topping cashew cream coconut milk
This is about how light in color the whipped topping should be.

And no, you can’t taste the tofu at all.

It tastes just the way it should.
Strawberry rhubarb custard bars

Adapted from Cooking Light



187 grams • all-purpose flour • 1 ½ cups

100 grams • granulated sugar • ½ cup

1 gram • salt • 1/8 teaspoon

127 grams • Earth Balance (try substituting some coconut oil), chopped into ½ inch pieces and chilled • 9 tablespoons


42 grams • all-purpose flour • 1/3 cup

300 grams • granulated sugar • 1 ½ cups

366 grams • nondairy milk • 1 ½ cups

186 grams • silken tofu, blended until smooth • ¾ cup

244 grams • rhubarb, chopped into ½ inch pieces • 2 cups

456 grams • strawberries, halved • 3 cups


100 grams • granulated sugar • ½ cup

137 grams • cashews, soaked for about four hours and drained • 1 cup

2 grams • vanilla extract • ½ teaspoon


Start by preheating oven to 350 degrees F and greasing a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. To make crust, combine flour, sugar, and salt (amounts under “crust”) in a medium bowl. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, cut in buttery spread or coconut oil until the mixture looks like coarse sand. Press into the bottom of the prepared baking pan and bake for about 15 minutes or until it looks golden brown.

To prepare filling, combine flour, granulated sugar, nondairy milk, and tofu in a blender and blitz just until smooth. Spread chopped rhubarb and strawberries in an even layer on top of the crust, and pour filling mixture on top of that. Bake at 350 degrees F again for about 40 minutes or until set. Allow to cool completely before adding whipped topping.

To finish, start by blending cashews until smooth in a food processor or powerful blender. Transfer to a stand mixer and add the rest of the ingredients. Whip until the mixture appears lightened in color and is fluffy. Spread evenly over the other two layers. Dig in.

strawberry rhubarb custard bars vegan
Gotta love whipped topping. How many times have I said that now?

Because this recipe makes a full 9 x 13 inch pan, I’d say it’s perfect for something like a potluck or barbecue, a casual setting where people just want an unfussy, easy-to-serve dessert that’s also really delicious. As in, go-back-for-seconds-and-thirds delicious.

strawberry rhubarb custard bars
This picture is literally giving me motion sickness.

And no one will guess that it’s vegan. Or that there’s tofu in it. Or that there are literally cashew nuts in the frosting. Because who would’ve thought you could make nuts into frosting?

strawberry rhubarb custard bars vegan
Decorative line of strawberries optional.

It’s totally nuts.

(You saw that coming, didn’t you?)


  1. Whipped topping! There, I said it for you again - so hah! For not feeling overly motivated, you sure know how to thip up a storm! I am always surprised how most of your recipes consist of a few laters at least! Then I look at the ingredient list, and think - hey! That's definitely do-able! I love the mixture of cream, rhubarb, strawberries and cashews. Until I receive this in the mail, I might just have to settle for the Nakd Cocoa bars I got yesterday. It was one of those slightly unmotivating days, and I had been walking around town for five hours (getting lots of things that I didn't know I needed until I found them..obviously), and I made a friend in a cafê -a sweet talkative ol' man. And then I tried to get my studying on in the evening. Life if tough, but I prefer your motivational pictures - at least they're not waaay out there like most of the others!
    Much love is sent your way June, enjoy your Sunday! Imma gawna hit the cinema and learn how to train my dragons again, yar! Seen it yet? x

    1. You enjoy your day too! :D Thanks for reading, and I agree this is so doable even with all the layers. Nakd cocoa bars sound good too though! :)

  2. Oh my gosh, that last one, haha! That is so true and I need to remind myself to read the entire recipe more often. I've ruined a few recipes by being impatient! It is so hard doing pretty much anything when you are sad, I hope things get easier soon and you start feeling better! I know that these amazing sounding custard bars would cheer me right up if I was sad! :)

    1. Thanks so much! I'm glad you can relate. :) And these bars did cheer me up, they were awesome!