Once upon a time Jimmy and I took a weekend trip to Chicago. During that trip, on a lovely sun dabbled Saturday, we ate at Avec.
At Avec they have a dessert of the day, and the dessert of that particular day was a Rhubarb Crisp with Mascarpone Ice Cream. You can see it listed on the sign in the picture above. They served it hot in a 5-inch cast iron skillet and the rhubarb was still bubbling slightly as it snuck between the lacy edges of the crisp, mingling and melding as it mixed with the slowly melting ice cream. Unfortunately you won’t see any of that in the photo above. Somehow it vanished before I could snap one. I’m sorry about that, it was extremely pretty. Also, it tasted amazing. Like really, really, amazing. Like, my stomach has been rumbling at more or less regular intervals for it, amazing. So, upon our return to
, I began counting down the days until Rhubarb season arrived (which for the record was 43). Seattle
I’m not typically great at recreating dishes that I’ve eaten somewhere else, but this time, I had a good feeling about it. Crisp recipes are always easy and I have a lovely one that my Grandma passed down to me when Jimmy and I got married. The rhubarb essentially takes care of itself and the mascarpone ice cream, well, David Lebovitz gave me confidence for that. I hope Avec will forgive me for taking such liberties. It was fantastic and I took a lot of pictures, just for you (that’s what you see in the photos above and below in case you were wondering). It’s not as pretty as the one we ate at Avec, but I’m also sharing the recipe with you. I hope you’ll find it a fair exchange.
Composed of the usual suspects, the crisp comes together in a snap. Once in the oven its tousled top goes perfectly brown, crisp on the edges, and then soft where it meets the sassy red hue and juicy tartness of the rhubarb underneath. Sitting on top, the rich mascarpone ice cream holds the whole thing together and combines the sweet nutty cap with quiet notes of rosy bitterness.
Is it weird to call a dessert precious? Because that’s what it was. Not too precious to eat, of course, but definitely worth staring at lovingly for a moment before digging in.
I adapted the crisp from a recipe that’s been in my family for five generations. My grandma wrote on the recipe card: “this is where I started adding citrus zest, when that became popular”. I like that. It’s a pretty basic crisp recipe so there’s plenty of wiggle room to play with different nuts or spices. I imagine walnuts and cardamom would be nice additions.
The mascarpone ice cream is one I had to play with a little but I would be remiss in not giving some credit to David Lebovitz and his book The Perfect Scoop. I’m definitely not the first person to sing his praises, nor will I be the last, but seriously, it’s an ultimate kitchen necessity. Spend some time with this book and you will be a master ice cream maker in no time.
I posted the recipe for the ice cream over at Honest Cooking. Stop by to read the article, get the recipe, and say hi!
8 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into large chunks, plus extra for greasing pan
3 pounds rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1 inch chunks (I found this to be about 5 cups)
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
1 Teaspoon fresh orange zest
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup all purpose flour
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of salt
¾ cup rolled old fashioned oats (not quick-cook)
½ cup chopped pecans (I like to blitz them in the food processor)
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease baking dish with butter. I like to use miniature tart dishes but an 8 or 9 inch baking dish works nicely too. Stir together the rhubarb, granulated sugar, orange juice, and zest in a medium bowl and set aside.
Combine the butter, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor and pulse for about 30 seconds until dough begins to come together and resembles small peas. Add the oats and pecans and pulse a few more times until combined.
Place the rhubarb in the baking dish or divide between individual tart dishes so that it evenly covers bottom. Crumble the crisp topping over the rhubarb and bake in oven until top just begins to turn golden brown and the rhubarb is bubbling. Remember that individual oven times will vary, mine took around 40 minutes, but I would check frequently as crisp is baking so that it doesn't burn.
Serve warm with homemade mascarpone ice cream .
Makes 4-6 individual crisps depending on tart pan size and rhubarb thickness. Crisp cooked in baking dish serves 6-8 people.