Strawberry Rhubarb Hazelnut Crisps
To hull hazelnuts, simply place nuts in a single layer in a small pan over medium heat, shaking occasionally until most of the hull is easy to rub off. Turbinado sugar is less refined than its white cousin, retains molasses and has a flavor similar to light brown sugar. Vanilla bean paste is a less expensive, easy to store option for pure vanilla flavor. The seeds of a regular vanilla bean pod may be scraped into the fruit, if vanilla paste is unavailable. Strawberries are only wonderful in late spring and early summer--they do not sweeten after being picked. Rhubarb stalks should be turgid. Choose medium sized stalks--too thin and they will lack flavor and too thick they will be stringy.
Strawberry Rhubarb Hazlenut Crisps
It was only a matter of time before a kitchen goddess figured out how to tame the mouth puckering sourness of rhubarb's celery like stalks. When cooked with strawberries and a bit of sugar, rhubarb is a soul satisfying ruby red spring dessert. So beloved across the pond, the Brits put rhubarb in savory meat and poultry dishes, jams, jellies, and custards. While Americans happily adopt many European food culture lusts, it seems we still prefer rhubarb sweet and with some kind of pastry. Crisps are the rustic, no nonsense cousin of the pie--they take less time to bake and the streusel topping lacks the fussiness of rolling and pinching a perfect crust. Enjoy this vibrant pairing only in spring when strawberries and rhubarb are at their peak.
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced into 1/4" cubes (plus additional butter for pan preparation)
3/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup hazelnuts, hulled
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 pound medium strawberries, hulled & halved
1 pound rhubarb, ends trimmed, cut into 1/2" x 1" pieces
Vanilla ice cream or crème fraîche
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Place the hazelnuts in a dry pan and toast over medium heat until lightly golden and fragrant. Coarsely grind.
3. In a medium glass bowl, whisk together the flour, 1 cup of sugar, and salt. Add the butter and use fingers to rub together to make small clumps. Add the oats and nuts to combine. Cover and chill in the refrigerator until the fruit is ready.
4. Grease 8 (4.5" D) OVENPROOF BAKING DISHES with 1 tablespoon butter.
5. In a large glass bowl, toss the strawberries and rhubarb together. Add the vanilla bean paste and the turbinado sugar and toss to coat the fruit evenly. Let macerate for 15 minutes.
6. Divide the fruit among the prepared baking dishes and top with the oat nut topping.
7. Place the baking dishes on a half sheet baking tray and cook until the topping is crisp, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.
8. Serve with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of crème fraîche.