I love participating in recipe swaps or themed cooking/baking groups. They make you think outside your norm and try out recipes you wouldn't have though to try. This was my first time participating in the What's Baking group, which gives a theme and sends you off on your way to create whatever you want from there. This month's theme was Spring Produce. One thing that jumped out at me from the list I found online was rhubarb. It was something that I had always heard about, but never tried. Going with my trend of trying out new foods, I set out to find something appealing using rhubarb. I turned to my fancy shmancy Craft of Baking and found a recipe for Pear & Concord Grape crisp with Marcona Almond Streusel, which had ways to vary it for each season. The spring ingredients were strawberry and rhubarb. Sounded good to me!
I had seen rhubarb at my local market, so I knew I could get that. What I didn't realize until I was at ShopRite was that marcona almonds are different than regular almonds (apparently they're sweeter). I couldn't find them, so I just bought the store-brand chopped almonds from the baking aisle. Still tasted good to me!
Now, I usually am convinced at some point in my cooking/baking that I've screwed something up and it will all turn out terrible. Well, I start getting everything ready, I wash and slice the strawberries, wash and dice the rhubarb, toss them in a bowl, grab my 1/3 cup measuring scoop, stick it in the flour and dump the flour on the fruit. Then I stood there frozen as I realize the 1/3 cup measurement was for sugar, not the flour. I was only supposed to use 1 tablespoon of flour! So I quickly rinse off all the flour from the fruit (trying to not make paper mache in the meantime), wash the bowl and then slowly and carefully add the sugar and the small amount of flour I was supposed to use in the first place. This may have affected how much juice ran out of the fruit in the end, but thankfully I hadn't made this before, so I couldn't tell the difference. I also didn't use the exact measurements of the fruit. I had purchased 2 rhubarb stalks (is that what they're called??) which came out to about 3 1/2 cups diced, and the package of strawberries came to just over 2 cups, so the total amount was the same, but it was a slightly different proportion.
The crisp came out delicious, and turns out, I actually really like rhubarb! I think this may go under my "quick and easy (as long as I don't mess it up again) desserts". I'm planning on trying other seasonal variations as well!
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp with Almond Streusel (slightly adapted from The Craft of Baking)
4 cups diced rhubarb
2 cups hulled and halved fresh strawberries
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup (4oz) chopped almonds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
FOR THE FRUIT:
In a large bowl, mix together the strawberries, rhubarb, sugar and flour. Let the mixture stand at room temperature until juices begin to draw out from the fruit, about 30 minutes.
FOR THE STREUSEL:
Combine flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, almonds, cinnamon and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
Mix just to combine.
Add the butter and mix just until the streusel comes together.
Spread onto a baking sheet and chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 15 minutes.
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Pour the fruit and juices into an 8-inch square baking dish.
Crumble the streusel with your fingers to top the fruit.
Place the baking dish on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, and bake, rotating the sheet half-way through, until fruit is tender, the juices are bubbling and thickened, and the topping is browned, about 40 minutes.
Transfer the baking dish to a wire rack and let the crisp cook for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Serve warm or at room temperature.