The enthusiasm of the rhubarb plants in the garden is hard to ignore – almost as hard as the not-so-subtle suggestions from my husband that I make something with it – so when planning a menu for a recent dinner party, strawberry rhubarb crisp was one of the things that came to mind. But while undeniably delicious, it was just too, well… predictable. So I started pondering the components and considering how they could be put together in a different way. Fruit. Oats and cinnamon. Crunchy texture. Good vanilla ice cream topping it all while still warm from the oven.
So why not start there – with the ice cream – and work in some crunch and fresh fruit, capturing all the flavors of the traditional dish but in a new way. I had a plan. I pulled down The Ultimate Ice Cream Book from the shelves and got started.
The rest is covered in the recipe below but here’s a big tip – don’t even think of discarding the leftover strawberry rhubarb mixture after you strain it. The remnants from things like this (we affectionately call it “sludge”) are pure flavor bombs. Stir it into yogurt or oatmeal, mix with cream cheese for a dip or infuse vodka with it. It is that good!
The oatmeal crunch is really a blank canvas and very freeform. I was keeping mine a bit healthier but easily some butter and brown sugar could be incorporated as a more traditional crisp topping. Like almonds? Coconut? Feel free to throw whatever suits your taste buds in and make it your own. It’s just the texture and crunch that you want to add another layer to the dessert.
Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream – aka: Deconstructed Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
Inspired by The Ultimate Ice Cream Book by Bruce Weinstein
Makes about 1 quart
1 lb rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 1/2 cups strawberries, sliced, plus more for serving
1 cup water
Juice and zest of one lemon
1 1/4 cup sugar, divided
1 large egg plus 1 additional egg yolk
2 tsp cornstarch
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
Oatmeal Crunch (see recipe below)
Combine the rhubarb, strawberries, water and lemon juice and zest in a medium saucepan and place over low heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb has broken down and resembles thick applesauce, about 10 minutes.
Add 1/2 cup sugar, return to a simmer and cook for a couple minutes. Put the mixture through a strainer, pushing on it to extract as much syrup as possible. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, beat the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar into the egg and egg yolk until thickened and pale yellow. Beat in the cornstarch and set aside.
Bring the milk to a simmer in a heavy medium saucepan. Slowly beat the hot milk into the eggs and sugar. Pour the entire mixture back into the pan and place over low heat. Stir occasionally with a whisk until the custard thickens slightly. Be careful not to let the mixture boil or the eggs will scramble. Remove from the heat and strain through a sieve. Allow to cool slightly and then stir in the fruit syrup and cream. Refrigerate until cold.
Freeze in one or two batches in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For soft ice cream, eat immediately or transfer to the freezer.
When ready to serve, top with fresh sliced strawberries and oatmeal crunch.
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup millet
Juice and zest of one orange
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix all ingredients together and spread on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place into the oven and bake until mixture is dried out and crunchy, stirring occasionally – about 30 minutes. Store in an airtight container.
Yep…it might have been deconstructed but it was still delicious!