Of the ice cream daydreams I’ve had lately, this Rhubarb Crisp Ice Cream was my favorite. And now that it is a reality, I can’t believe it’s not a thing. I’m not about to claim I’m the first to put rhubarb crisp into an ice cream format. I’m sure someone somewhere has beaten me to the punch. But I don’t understand why it’s not a thing thing. Why isn’t it the new raspberry cheesecake? Why don’t I see crisp ice creams all over town?
Perhaps crisps are not as near and dear to the average heart as they are to mine. I sometimes wonder if we East Coasters value grunts and crisps more than the rest of Canada. I don’t know if it’s true, I’m sure there are some who would passionately disagree with that statement. And yet, it is a feeling I’m guilty of. I just don’t encounter as many people who are as passionate about crisps in the great province of Ontario. Perhaps I am looking in the wrong place, I don’t know. All I know for sure is crisps factored into my formative years in a big way.
My Mother the Rebel
When I was little, my mom would sometimes make apple crisp for dinner. Yup, dinner! It was usually at the end of a long week when she was absolutely done. Now, before you raise an eyebrow at my upbringing, I should mention I was also the kid who brought multi-grain bread and all-natural peanut butter to school back when Wonder Bread and Skippy ruled the day. And yes, I am old enough to remember a time when you could bring peanut butter to school.
We didn’t have Lucky Charms or Gushers in my house and our fruit was most certainly not available by the foot. My mom was a health nut before it was a thing, but she did and does have a mischievous, indulgent side – seriously, you should see her order Chinese food. The apple crisps we enjoyed for dinner belong to that side of her. And because we never had an abundance of sugar in our house, we enjoyed them all the more.
Rhubarb Season, Rhubarb Crisp
Aside from my nostalgic tie to the dish, I adore crisps for two reasons – they’re delicious and they’re endlessly adaptable. Apple crisp is really just the beginning of a whole crisp universe. And while I adore the classic, I only have eyes for one kind of crisp during rhubarb season. I really hope I don’t need to clarify which one.
As I mentioned last post, summer just kind of showed up here in Toronto. So by the time I got my hands on my first batch of local rhubarb, it was already sweltering. And as good as crisp is, 30 plus degree weather does put a bit of a damper on the whole bubbly, hot dessert thing. But then it struck me – why not create an ice cream version?
Rhubarb Crisp Ice Cream
I don’t know about you but I have a hard time recognizing a crisp as a crisp if it doesn’t have a scoop of ice cream melting on top. It should always be vanilla but I’m willing to make space for strawberry or some other gentle flavor. The key to this combo’s success lies in the mellowness of the ice cream. The ice cream should add contrast and richness to the crisp, not overwhelm it. So with that in mind, I selected good ol’ vanilla as the base for my Rhubarb Crisp Ice Cream.
What’s a Crisp Without the Crisp?
Now, let’s discuss the crisp itself. Arguably the best part of any crisp is the crisp itself. That buttery, crunchy top is why everyone in my house fought over the corner pieces. So, in order to capture the crisp in all its authentic glory, I opted to simply make my favorite crisp topping. Yeah, no changes were made, aside from not baking it on top of fruit. You simply spread the mixture evenly over a silicone mat or parchment paper and bake it. Then I let it cool completely before popping it into the freezer to get it nice and cold before sprinkling it into the ice cream in its last 5 minutes of churning. Easy, effortless, and oh so crunchy.
Rhubarb Ripple – Deliciously Stressful
Okay, so we should probably talk about the rhubarb aspect of this Rhubarb Crisp Ice Cream. Well, again I didn’t really alter much ingredients-wise. I did, however, cook my rhubarb down on the stove, rather than baking it underneath the crisp mixture. I actually cook rhubarb on the stove all the time. Stewed rhubarb freezes beautiful and it makes such a great pancake or French toast topping, that it only makes sense to make extra. And it is with this classic that I created the rhubarb ripple that runs through the ice cream.
Now, I’m not going to lie creating a ripple in ice cream is stressful work. Rippling is, on its face, a simple process. All you have to do is layer half of the ice cream in your chosen freezing vessel and add half of the ripple. Then you just swirl the two together with a spoon and repeat the process one more time. See? Easy. But there is a catch. Time is an issue whenever you work with freshly churned ice cream. Freshly churned ice cream wants to melt much faster than fully-set ice cream, so ripple swiftly and everything will be fine. Promise!
So that’s everything you need to know about this Rhubarb Crisp Ice Cream. It’s tart, creamy, crunchy, sweet, which makes it sound like an unreleased TLC album. But all jokes aside, this is an ice cream flavor for the ages.
Rhubarb Crisp Ice Cream
- Ice Cream Maker
- 454g (1lb) fresh rhubarb cut into chunks
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ cup sliced almonds
- ¼ tsp salt
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter melted
Vanilla Ice Cream
- 1 ½ cups 2% milk
- 4 egg yolks
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 ½ cups whipping cream
- 1 tsp high-quality vanilla extract
For the Rhubarb
- Place all of the ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Leave the rhubarb to cook, stirring occasionally, until it completely falls apart and any liquid in the pot takes on a syrup-like consistency.454g (1lb) fresh rhubarb, ½ cup granulated sugar, ¼ cup water, ¼ tsp salt
- Take the rhubarb off of the heat and transfer to a bowl. Let cool to room temperature before covering and transferring to the fridge. Let the rhubarb chill for at least 2 hours.
For the Crisp
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk to combine the flour, oats, sugar, almonds, and salt. Stir in the melted butter until well-integrated. The mixture should be clumpy.¾ cup old-fashioned rolled oats, ½ cup all-purpose flour, ¼ cup light brown sugar, ¼ cup sliced almonds, 6 tbsp unsalted butter, ¼ tsp salt
- Spread the finished mixture evenly over the surface of the baking sheet. Bake the crisp for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan once halfway through. Set aside to cool completely.
- Once the crisp is cool, break it into chunks and transfer them to a resealable container. Place the container in the freezer until ready to use.
For the Ice Cream
- Pour the milk into a small saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Gently heat the milk until steam begins to form on the surface and it reaches the temperature of hot bath water.1 ½ cups 2% milk
- While the milk is heating, place the egg yolks, sugar and salt in a medium-sized bowl and whisk to combine. Whisk until the mixture is uniform and turns a lighter shade of yellow.4 egg yolks, ⅔ cup granulated sugar, ¼ tsp salt
- Gradually whisk in two ladlesful of the hot milk into the yolk mixture to temper the eggs. Pour the yolk mixture into the saucepan and gently heat the ice cream base over medium-low heat until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- While you're waiting for the base to cook, prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. Place a smaller bowl in the center and set aside.
- Pour the finished base through a fine-mesh strainer into the bowl in the center of the ice bath. Whisk in the heavy cream and vanilla extract. Leave the base to chill for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Alternatively, you could skip the ice bath and leave the base to chill in the fridge overnight.1 ½ cups whipping cream, 1 tsp high-quality vanilla extract
- Place an 8×8 inch pan in the freezer to chill. Pour the ice cream base into an ice cream maker and churn for 25 minutes.
- Once the 25 minutes have passed, start sprinkling in all but a ¼ cup of the crisp into the ice cream as it churns.
- Once the crisp is integrated, transfer half of the ice cream to the chilled pan and spread into a relatively even layer. Working quickly, spoon half of the rhubarb mixture over top and swirl the two together using a spoon. Add the remaining ice cream and the remaining rhubarb mixture and swirl once more. Wrap the pan with plastic wrap and transfer to the freezer. Leave the ice cream to freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- When ready to serve, scoop the ice cream into small bowls and garnish with the reserved crisp. Serve immediately.