There is something so welcoming and exciting about seeing petite pints of strawberries and long, bright red stalks of rhubarb appear at the farmer's market.
So long blustery winter days - summer is, at long last, on the horizon.
But we are not there - not just yet. While rhubarb is at its peak, local strawberries are just making their first appearance. They have not yet reached the point where the tiny, red fruit is so packed with juice that it sends a trickle of red liquid from the corner of your mouth.
Despite the strawberries not being at quite this level of ripeness, combined with rhubarb and macerated in just a bit of sugar, they do make for a delectable filling for a crisp.
Sometimes, I crave just the filling of a pie, without the work of a pie crust. Crisps make a wonderful option in this case - the topping is still crunchy and slightly sweet and the nuttiness provides another layer of flavor for my tongue to explore.
As we here in NYC are still watching our vegetables and fruit transition into the summer crop, I decided to incorporate hazelnuts into the crisp mixture. The warm, deep flavor of this nut, combined with almonds and the bright flavors of rhubarb and strawberry, provided a dessert that reflects this transition.
Instead of making the crisp as one dish, I decided to create individual portions.
I filled my cute little serving dishes to the brim with the fruit filling and carefully balanced a generous covering of the crisp on top.
They emerged from the oven with a golden hue, filling the air with their sweet, homey smell.
Like most warm, fruit desserts, these beauties seemed to beckon for the accompaniment of a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
The result was exactly what I hoped to create. While the addition of the hazelnut would not likely be desirable in the heat of summer, it provided a depth of flavor perfect for the spring days of May.
I suspect I will be revisiting this crisp recipe over and over again as more fruit graces the stands at the farmer's market and the current offerings become riper and sweeter with each passing week.
adapted from Chez Panisse Desserts
makes 6-8 servings
For the Topping
1/4 cup unsalted almonds
1/4 cup hazelnuts
7/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch kosher salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
For the Filling
2 pounds rhubarb
1/2 pint ripe strawberries
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
For the Topping
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare 9" pie dish with non-stick spray.
Toast almonds and hazelnuts until fragrant and nutty, about 5 minutes. Cool.
Place cooled nuts, flour, dark brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and salt in food processor. Chop until nuts are ground and mixture is combined completely. Pour dry mixture into medium mixing bowl.
Pour melted butter over dry mixture and combine until crumbly.
For the Filling
Cut rhubarb into 1/4" slices. Place in medium mixing bowl. Hull and quarter the strawberries. Add to rhubarb.
Add sugar and flour to fruit, stir to evenly coat and combine. Allow to macerate at room temperature until slightly moistened.
Assembly and Baking
Pour fruit into prepared dish, pressing down to create an even base. Sprinkle crumb topping in an even layer on top of the fruit.
Bake until golden and bubbling, about 45 minutes.
Serve immediately with vanilla ice cream.[/print_this]