May 23, 2013

Recipe: Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp

There is something so infinitely satisfying about breaking a losing streak. For the past few months, most of the recipes I came up with were just "ok". Often they were "fine". Occasionally they were straight-up bad. It's hard not to become discouraged with a long stretch of recipe "meh", especially when said meh-dom means I end up with zero blog content. I considered sharing a few of the "fine" recipes here on the blog, but decided against it. This is not a space for meh. It is a space for awesome. And this Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp? It is AWESOME, friends. All caps AWESOME.

The awesomeness kind of took me by surprise, to be perfectly frank. I mean, it's a rhubarb crisp. Nothing earth shattering there. The month of May rolls around and everyone starts baking rhubarb into some sort of pie/crisp/crumble filling, because.... well, baked filling is pretty much the best use of rhubarb's fibrous, tart, celery-like stalks. More often than not, rhubarb is paired with strawberries, a pairing which (delightful as it may be) feels a little dull year-after-year.

I decided small tweaks were in order for my little rhubarb crisp. The filling forgoes strawberries for raspberries, enhancing the tartness of the rhubarb with their own sweet-and-sour character. A splash of orange juice is bright and unexpected. The oat topping gets a double hit of almond-y goodness with chopped almonds providing crunch and almond butter lending a more flavorful (and nutritious) fatty binder than nondairy butter alone. These small tweaks led to one of the most delicious desserts I've eaten in quite some time. Everything just sings - the rhubarb, the raspberries, the orange, the almonds - they come together and sing WE ARE AWESOME. And they're right.

Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp
serves 6

Raspberry Rhubarb Filling:
1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and chopped into 1/2 pieces
1 1/2 cups raspberries (both frozen or fresh are fine)
1/2 cup natural cane sugar
1/3 cup orange juice

Almond Oat Topping:
1/2 cup quick oats (rolled oats will work too, but not steel-cut)
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sliced almonds, finely chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup almond butter
2 tablespoons nondairy butter, very cold, cut into small cubes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grab a baking dish approximately 8 or 9 inches in diameter (I use a square or round cake pan, and find these to be the perfect size). In a large bowl, toss together the rhubarb, raspberries, natural cane sugar, and orange juice until the fruit is evenly coated and glossy. In a separate bowl, stir together the oats, flour, almonds, brown sugar, and cinnamon before adding in the almond butter and nondairy butter. With a fork or your fingers, smush the butters into the topping mixture until it resembles slightly-moist sand dotted with pea-sized clusters. Pour the raspberry rhubarb filling into the baking dish, being sure to scrape all the juices out of the bowl, and spread filling into an even layer. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling and place baking dish in oven. Bake the crisp for 40 minutes, or until the juices are thickened and bubbling at the edges and the topping is golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes before serving the warm crisp with a scoop of nondairy ice cream or a dollop of nondairy whipped cream.

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