Sunday, July 10, 2011

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

I think brown butter is my new fascination. Butter is delicious to begin with, but when it's browned over heat for a few minutes, it takes on this complex, nutty flavor that elevates dishes to a whole new level. Ravioli with brown-butter and sage sauce. Chocolate chip cookies with brown butter. And these dishes are just the beginning.

I promised my friend Yana a brunch with strawberries and rhubarb. I could have made pie, but after a strawberry-rhubarb pie, blackberry pie and a Tuscaloosa Tollhouse pie recently, I needed a break. I also needed the recipe to be finished by brunch at noon, and I couldn't get strawberries and rhubarb until I went to the farmers' market on Saturday morning.

I found a strawberry-rhubarb crisp recipe in Williams-Sonoma's Essentials of Baking cookbook that just looked delicious, but Cook's Illustrated recent feature on how crisps are often just so-so had me worried. I had to dress this crisp up a little. I know the topping would make or break the crisp, and I wanted it to be richer. I swapped the melted butter for brown butter, reduced the flour, added oats and mixed in pecans to add some complexity.

Biting into this crisp made me glad I had not made a pie. The crisp was light. It felt very healthy since the filling wasn't surrounded by pie crust.

I like any dessert I can justify having two servings of in one day.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp
adapted from Williams-Sonoma's Essentials of Baking and Cook's Illustrated Magazine

This crisp will provide 8 servings. Search for the reddest stalks of rhubarb you can find. Serve this with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (or both).

For the filling:
6 medium stalks of rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups strawberries, hulled and halved lengthwise
1/2 cup granulated sugar

For the topping:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup pecans, finely chopped
3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter

Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have a 2 1/2 quart ceramic baking dish ready.

Prepare the filling: Stir together the rhubarb, strawberries and granulated sugar until well mixed. Pour into a ceramic baking dish and set aside.

Prepare the topping: Combine flour, pecans, oats, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Place butter in a saucepan on the stove, and heat over medium-high heat, swirling the butter constantly until it is browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir into the flour mixture until it is thoroughly moistened and crumbly.

Spoon the crumb mixture evenly over the filling.

Bake: Bake the crisp until the rhubarb is tender, the juices are bubbling, and the topping is golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm. Reheat the crisp in a 250 degree oven for 15 minutes before serving. The crisp will keep for two days at room temperature.


  1. This looks like a good combination of tart and sweet. Must be delicious.

  2. My guys love pies, but I'm not such a pie person actually. That said, I do love crisps and the guys love them as well, so it's a win-win situation with a crisp. I will check this one out soon as crisps are such an easy way to have a little dessert for them of a weekday evening, they bake while we eat dinner!

  3. i have been looking for a rhubarb recipe for a while and pie seems a little too heavy right now, so this sounds absolutely perfect, thanks!

  4. What a lovely break from pies! Your crisp topping looks and sounds so delicious. I love your addition of the pecans. My husband got me a copy of the WS Essentials of Baking at a garage sale (for a great price!), but I have to confess I have not baked anything from it yet. You have inspired me to get it out!

  5. Thanks Elaine! I had put the WS Essentials of Baking cookbook aside for a bit, but I've rediscovered it recently. It's filled with some beautiful, tasty recipes. Have fun exploring it!

  6. Strawberry and rhubarb are such a winning combination- your crisp looks and sounds terrific! I've yet to make a crisp but now I'm intrigued about that Cook's Illustrated article. I'm going to look it up before I attempt one.

  7. Shelley--The crisp article in Cook's Illustrated is really informative and definitely worth reading. Their article is for an apple crisp that's started on the stove and finished in the oven. I'm looking forward to trying it this summer!

  8. I am crazy for brown butter these days too. It just takes things to a whole other level. Love the title of your blog!

  9. I tried this recipe yesterday. It is absolutely delicious and so easy to do!