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Red Poppy Rhubarb Apple Crisp

April 27, 2011

 

I’m baaaaaaaack!  Terribly sorry I’ve been gone so long, although I haven’t been entirely shirking my duties.  Stone Brewing Co. has asked me to contribute recipes featuring Stone beers to their blog, so if you visit the Stone Blog, you’ll find a couple new recipes for your cooking pleasure.  But let’s get down to business.

Until now, I have avoided cooking with sour beers.  This has nothing to do with their suitability for cooking, or lack thereof.  This simple fact is that I am a sucker for sours.  It is my absolute favorite style and I have a hard time parting with even a drop for use in a recipe.  But I am doing a disservice to my readers (and myself) by not fully exploring the cooking with beer possibilities, so I have made the sacrifice.  I landed on Red Poppy Ale, a Flanders red ale from Lost Abbey brewed with sour cherries and aged in French oak.  This year’s version was released mid-February and I’ve been clinging to the last bottle in my fridge, but last night I said goodbye  in a deliciously glorious way.

I decided to pair the tart libation with rhubarb, a piquant vegetable (fruit?) that exemplifies the bounty of Spring.  People often try to temper the sour bite of rhubarb with sweet fruits (i.e. strawberry rhubarb pie), but that’s not my style.  It’s denying the true nature of rhubarb.  Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, rhubarb’s gotta be sour.  So with today’s recipe we’re going to embrace the pucker.  Rhubarb and apples come together in a simple crisp that showcases the produce far more than the pastry.  And the Red Poppy adds an incredible brightness to the already tart flavors.

Tart Rhubarb Apple Crisp
3 c. rhubarb, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces (5-6 stalks)
3 c. apples, cut into 1 inch pieces (about 3 medium apples.  Use any variety of thin-skinned red apple; I used Pink Ladies.  And leave those skins on!  It’s called fiber–get some!)
1/2 c. Red Poppy (or any other variety of Flanders Red Ale)
1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2/3 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. rolled oats
3/4 c. flour (I used whole wheat flour; you gotta sneak in those whole grains where you can, right?)
1/2 c. finely chopped walnuts
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease 8×8 baking dish with butter.
Mix chopped rhubarb and apples in a large mixing bowl.  Pour beer over fruit.  Add sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla and stir till sugar and cornstarch are dissolved.

Pour rhubarb mixture into prepared baking dish.

Mix remaining ingredients (except butter) together in large mixing bowl.

Pour melted butter over topping ingredients.  Mix with your hands until coarse crumbs form and there’s no dry flour at the bottom of the bowl.  Pour crumb mixture over rhubarb.

Bake crisp at 375 for 45-50 minutes.  Top should be golden brown and the fruit mixture should be really bubbly.  Let stand for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Serve crisp warm with a lovely scoop of ice cream on top.  You can use plain old vanilla, or you can be an innovative fancy-pants like me and doctor that vanilla up just a tiny bit…

I started with Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Ice Cream in Vanilla Bean.  I chose it for several reasons.  First, no dairy!  Which means I can nom on it freely without fear of debilitating gut rot (TMI? Sorry…).  Second, the coconut milk adds a depth of flavor beyond just plain vanilla.  And finally, coconut milk ice cream has the best texture of any ice cream I’ve ever had.  No joke.  Sooooo creamy.  It’s a little pricey, but well worth the investment for this rich and creamy treat.

(Note: Do your ice cream doctoring before starting the crisp, to give it a chance to harden back up.) Anyway, I let the ice cream soften a bit (the ride home from the grocery store should suffice for this).  Then I scooped roughly 2/3 of the pint into a mixing bowl (I left some in the container in case my experiments went horribly awry–I didn’t want to be stranded without any ice cream at all!)  To the ice cream I added about a 1/4 cup of Red Poppy, stirring quickly to blend the beer and ice cream thoroughly.  You want to maximize the thoroughness of your mixing while minimizing meltage, so work fast!  The more the ice cream melts, the higher your chance of big ice crystals forming as it refreezes.  It should be about the consistency of soft-serve at this point.  Pour the mixture into a lidded tupperware container, cover, and replace in the freezer.

When your crisp is all baked, and delicious, and ready to be served, take that refrozen ice cream out of the freezer.  The flavor is smooth and sweet, with just a hint of cherry tartness.  It pair beautifully with the crunchy topping and sour filling of the crisp.  Yes, I am a genius and yes, you may bow down at my feet.

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