Old-fashioned Rhubarb Fanchonettes (Rhubarb Tarts with Meringue Topping)

It’s peak rhubarb season here – so it’s time to try new rhubarb recipe. . . Well, actually, this being A Hundred Years Ago, it’s time to try a “new” old recipe. I found a great recipe for Rhubarb Fanchonettes in a 1919 magazine. Fanchonettes are basically Rhubarb Tarts with Meringue Topping.

The Fanchonettes are a perfect spring treat. The small, individual tarts are a nice size for a snack or dessert. The rhubarb filling is delightfully tart and balanced by the sweet meringue topping.

Here is the original recipe:

rhubarb fanchonettes recipe
Source: American Cookery (March, 1919)

I found some aspects of this recipe fussy and  challenging. For example, I couldn’t figure out why the rhubarb needed to be cooked twice, so I just cooked the rhubarb until tender and then stirred in the other ingredients, but didn’t reheat. And, what are brownie tins?

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Old-fashioned Rhubarb Fanchonettes (Rhubarb Tarts with Meringue Topping)

  • Servings: 12 - 15 Fanchonettes
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print


5 cups rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon lemon juice or 1 tablespoon grated orange peel (I used lemon juice.)

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons flour

2 egg yolks, beaten

pie pastry (Enough for a 2-crust 9-inch pie – more may be needed if pre-rolled sheets are used. I re-rolled pastry scraps several times to make all of the small fanchonette shells.)

Place rhubarb pieces and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil using medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer until the rhubarb is tender while stirring occasionally (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and strain to remove excess liquid. (It is okay if there is still a little liquid after draining). Measure the cooked rhubarb; there should be approximately 2 cups. (Excess rhubarb can be sweetened and eaten as stewed rhubarb.) Return to pan. Stir in lemon juice, sugar, salt, and flour. Quickly stir in the egg yolks. (If the rhubarb is still very hot, stir a small amount of the cooked rhubarb to the beaten egg yolks while stirring rapidly to avoid coagulation of the yolks; then quickly stir the egg yolk mixture into the remaining rhubarb.) Set aside.

Preheat oven to 425° F. Roll pastry dough and cut into pieces. Fit each piece into a small pie pan; trim and flute edges to make the fanchonette shells. (I used a fairly shallow muffin pan to make the fanchonettes.) The number needed will vary depending upon size, but approximately 12-15 should be enough to hold all the filling.

Fill each fanchonette shell with cooked rhubarb mixture. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350° F. Continue baking until the rhubarb comes to a slow rolling boil. Remove from oven, and top each fanchonette with a heaping tablespoonful of Meringue (see recipe below). Spread Meringue to edge of fanchonette. Bake at 325° F. for 10 minutes or until the meringue is lightly browned.


2 egg whites

4 tablespoons sugar

Place egg whites in a bowl, and beat until stiff peaks form. Gradually add sugar while continuing to beat.

27 thoughts on “Old-fashioned Rhubarb Fanchonettes (Rhubarb Tarts with Meringue Topping)

  1. Oh yum! The near-by Amish stand has rhubarb and I need to try this recipe ; )
    But what you call”fussy”, I get ” extra” info, since I have never worked w/this veggie : )
    Hopefully, it will be as good as yours looks!

    1. If you like the tartness of rhubarb, I think that you’ll like this recipe. I’m glad you found the directions in original recipe helpful. I like to post both the original recipes and my interpretations so that readers can refer to both, as needed.

      1. Sheryl: one of the MAIN REASONS why I follow you is that you post the original recipe along with the revised version. I’m a massive fan of vintage cookbooks and use their old timey recipes often. I like to see how they worded and wrote the original recipes, too. 🙂

        1. As you have probably guessed, I’m also a huge fan for vintage cookbooks. I have a lot of fun doing this blog, and it’s nice to hear that you like the format.

  2. I wish I could remember what rhubarb tastes like. I’ve not had it for years, since it’s not grown here, and what I see in the stores always looks a little wilty and sad. The next time I go to the midwest to visit my aunt, I need to see if I can find some.

    1. Rhubarb, like celery stalks, MUST be placed in a glass of water once cut. If, not, they become wilted and sad, just as you said. 😦

  3. How interesting that the original recipe suggests you may need to peel the rhubarb. Does anyone do that these days? I also don’t see why rhubarb should be cooked twice. And I was taught never to boil it, but to simmer as gently as posible.

    1. 100 years ago, rhubarb was an almost “wild plant” with no modern cultivars. I know because my grandparents had it lining the vegetable garden. The stalks were HUGE and TOUGH (think celery) so it was mandatory to peel them. My gran and granpa would eat fresh rhubarb dipped in salt! It was an acquired taste that I never developed. 🙂

      1. I actually enjoy eating fresh rhubarb dipped in salt. We ate it that way as a snack when I was a child, and I still like it – even though it is very tart. 🙂

    2. I generally make a judgment call with rhubarb regarding whether it needs to be peeled. If the stalks are very thick, I tend to peel them; but if they are thinner I don’t.

  4. “What are Brownie Tins?” Remember, 100 years ago, many things had different names. Brownie Tins are tartlet pans: some had fixed bottoms and some had *pop out* bottoms. We’d just call them Tart Tins, nowadays.

    1. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you find some nice rhubarb. I think that you’ll like this recipe. These tarts are visually appealing, tasty, and make a perfect small dessert.

  5. The rhubarb tarts look great. I’ll bet the newly-opened stand near our home has rhubarb. It’s strawberry season here, though, and that is John’s first love.

    1. It’s not quite strawberry season yet here. I’m looking forward to its arrival. Local strawberries are so much tastier (and not nearly as hard) as the strawberries shipped in from California.

  6. Just love rhubarb! We had rhubarb crunch with ice cream last evening for supper! I made it gluten free as grandsons were coming over to join us for the evening.

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