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My husband has an incredible sweet tooth.  Sometimes I imagine that you could sit him down with three six-year olds and an unlimited supply of candy and the kids would be passed out or crying uncle while he chewed happily on.  It’s astounding sometimes, his capacity for sugar.  As a good and caring wife, I worry, and I work diligently to give him sweets in a responsible way.  (Or so I imagine, anyway.)  I like baking with honey and agave nectar in place of sugar, and I recently found that using fruit butters or applesauce in baked goods allows you to replace both sugar and oil/butter.  One fell swoop!

Most often, I just use real fruit to bake with, and my favorite fruit dessert is crisp.  In the summer, I use blackberries or peaches; sometimes the crisp becomes a cobbler, with dumplings replacing the crisp topping.  When R’s mom was here, I made my first-ever pear crisp and it was lovely.  But I find it hard to beat a traditional apple crisp, especially during this time of year, when apples are fresh, flavorful and plentiful.  The right combination of sweet and tart apples with that buttery, cinnamon-y topping is so satisfying.  This week, I was looking at my default crisp recipe, from The Joy of Cooking, and saw a note mentioning that apples could be replaced with peaches, cherries or rhubarb.  Hmmm.  I happen to have 67 lbs. of rhubarb in my freezer.  (Not really, but I do have a lot, thanks to R’s discovery this summer of some that was to be thrown away if we didn’t want it.  Not on my watch!  No rhubarb left behind!)  If apple crisp is delicious and rhubarb is delicious, why on earth wouldn’t I want to combine forces and make something ultra-delicious?  And so I did.

Apple Rhubarb Crisp

  • 3 large apples (4-5 c.)*
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 1 c. fresh or frozen rhubarb, cut in 1/2″ pieces
  • 3 T. white sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon (or more, to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 T. butter, cold, cut in small pieces
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Slice apples and toss in a bowl with lemon juice to prevent browning.  Add rhubarb to the bowl (frozen is fine); sprinkle with white sugar, salt and cinnamon and toss to coat.  Pour into a 2 1/2 quart baking dish.  (I find that an 8″ x 8″ pan is too small, a 9″ x 13″ too large, but I have an oval 2 1/2 qt. casserole dish that works perfectly.)  The fruit should be piled fairly high, since it will cook down.

In a small bowl, mix brown sugar and flour thoroughly.  Using a pastry blender, two knives or a fork, cut the butter into the dry mixture, pastry-style.  Make sure to keep the butter cold; you don’t want it to melt.  The topping will look very floury, with pea-size pieces of butter throughout.  Pour evenly across the top of the fruit; you won’t cover it all, but it should be well-distributed.  Bake for 35 mins., until the topping bubbles and browns.  Serve warm, with whipped cream or ice cream if you like.

*Use a mixture of sweet and tart apples for best results.  I used one Honeycrisp and two Macintosh.  I do not peel the apples, because I like the color and texture provided by the peels, but you can certainly peel them if you prefer.  If you have leftovers, a spoonful warmed up and put on some steel-cut oats for breakfast is a very fine way to start the day.