Springtime Dinner Party

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May 7th, 2010

With gardens in full bloom, the warmer evenings are simply begging for your first outdoor dinner party of the year! It’s time to dust off that patio furniture and enjoy nature’s colorful adornment.

Longer and sunnier days are upon us, and it’s the ideal time to gather on the back porch to enjoy spring’s sweet bounty. To really wow your crowd, try my take on a classic crisp with rhubarb, a seasonal selection from your local farmer’s market. Rhubarb has long been enjoyed in desserts, but these fun, individual crisps sweetened with pure maple syrup are a new approach to an all-American classic.

This springtime treat is not only a crowd-pleaser, but offers some serious health benefits to boot! Wholesome oats offer a significant source of dietary soluble fiber, which is effective in lowering cholesterol and gives this dessert a natural, crispy topping.

An often underappreciated woody vegetable (yes, it’s a vegetable!), Rhubarb’s natural tart flavors soften and grow sweeter when baked. It also provides a good source of vitamin C, fiber and calcium, as well as various benefits from improved heart health and metabolism to lower cholesterol.

I’ve also added a touch of nature’s perfect sweetener, pure Canadian maple syrup. This natural syrup is derived from tree sap loaded with health benefits. Maple syrup is an excellent source of manganese, an important factor in energy production and antioxidant defenses, and a good source of zinc, essential for a healthy immune system.

Using simple ingredients, this easy recipe is not only delicious, but will be ready in a snap for a spur of the moment dinner party. Adding oats to the crumble mixture adds a warm, rustic flavor sure to warm your guests’ hearts and bellies. The hint of maple as the secret ingredient will provide an irresistible depth of flavor in this dessert.

Bon appétit!

Individual Rhubarb Crisps

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

Topping

  • 1/3 cup + ½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats, divided
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 4 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons pure Canadian maple syrup

Fruit

  • 1/2 cup pure Canadian maple syrup
  • 2 lb fresh or frozen and thawed rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 3 – 4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Prepare topping: Put 1/3 cup of the oats in food processor and process until finely ground. Put in mixing bowl with pecans, butter, cinnamon, 1/4 cup of the brown sugar, pure maple syrup, 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar, and remaining 1/2 cup oats. Mix with pastry blender or fingers until pea-size clumps form. Set aside.

Prepare Filling: Pour rhubarb and pure maple syrup into large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Sift (ideally) or sprinkle 3 Tablespoons of flour over the entire mixture (as opposed to dumping it into one spot). Stir, using a fork, until flour is coating the rhubarb. You may need to add another tablespoon of flour if it looks too runny. It should be the same consistency as Elmer’s glue – quite sticky.

Put rhubarb mixture into a 9″ x 9″ baking dish or individual ramekins or oven-proof tea cups. Top with oat mixture and bake until rhubarb is bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes.

FOOD STYLING NOTES FROM KD: I love to prepare this in mismatched antique tea-cups and serve them on the saucers. For an extra treat, place a maple leaf candy on each saucer. Also, I usually make a double batch of the topping, because the more the merrier for this delicious crumble!

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