This recipe for Apricot Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp combines 3 seasonal fruits for a sweet tart dessert that is incredibly easy to make and tastes like late spring / early summer in a dish.
Oh how I love this time in June. It's not quite summer yet, but it doesn't really feel like spring either. The days are never-ending and everything is so lush and green. The air smells like freshly cut grass, honeysuckle and the sea. There are ants all over my house and I'm sneezing like crazy, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
It's a special time of year for produce here in New Jersey, too. Spring crops overlap with summer, and there are a few choice items only in season for a limited time, like strawberries. Jersey June-bearing strawberries are so sweet and flavorful, they're nothing like the big tasteless things we buy at the supermarket. They're small, juicy, saturated with ruby red color, and just begging to be eaten the second they're plucked from the vine.
I'm lucky to have a few strawberry plants growing right in my backyard next to the rhubarb that just can't seem to get its act together. This is my third year growing rhubarb and it's still producing the skinniest, most measly stalks you can imagine. Sigh. But they're edible stalks nonetheless.
Strawberries and rhubarb are a natural combination, but for this recipe, I didn't have quite enough of either to make anything worth baking. Between my meager supply of strawberries, and my barely-there rhubarb, I needed something else to fill in the gaps and pump up the volume. I had some ripe apricots sitting on the counter, so figured why not give them a try.
I come from a big pie family, but Chaser's family is all about the crisp. His mom, Karen, makes the best apple crisp ever, and we often receive some variation of baked fruit under a buttery-sweet crumbly topping in lieu of a birthday cake ever year. A lot of women complain about how their husband fawns over his mother's cooking, but I actually find it really sweet and endearing. If my food never lives up to hers, I'm totally okay with that. And for the record, it rarely does. I'm still trying to master her Chicken Franciase.
This crisp is a riff on a recipe for a raspberry nectarine crisp from Bon Appetit that I used to make all the time a few years ago. Jammy, sweet nectarines paired beautifully with the tart, almost abrasive raspberries, and the buttery oat crumble was gently spiced with cinnamon and just a touch of cardamom. I made it about a million times one summer, and then like so many other good recipes, I just forgot about it.
I swapped out the raspberries and nectarines for what I had on hand, and it came out even better than I had hoped. The rhubarb provided just the right amount of tartness, while the strawberries and apricots gave a sweet, fruity flavor. This filling doesn't contain any additional flavorings so the fruit gets to be the star of the show, as it should be. I kept the topping pretty similar since I thought it was pretty perfect as-is. In true Gaffney fashion, the only thing I did differently was to increase the butter ratio slightly and then brown it just a bit. Sometimes I just can't help myself.
This blend of flavors is perfect for June when berries and rhubarb are still in season, but the very first stone fruits of summer are just becoming ready too. I never would have thought to combine these three fruits together, but thanks to chance, I'm so glad I did. Perhaps it was fate that my garden just wasn't producing as much as I wanted.
Scoop this crisp into dishes while it's still warm and serve with plenty of vanilla ice cream. It may not be a Karen-crisp, but I'm pretty sure she'd approve.