Maple Walnut Rhubarb Crisp

maple walnut rhubarb crispMaple Walnut Rhubarb Crisp is everything you might think the name implies: sweet, tangy, fruity, nutty, crunchy. We have not been the least bit sorry that it took 3 batches to get it tweaked just so, because taste testing the “failed” batches has been very pleasant work – about the best kind of work, really.

I was surprised to find out from readers, when I posted a rhubarb recipe in the past, that it doesn’t grow everywhere – not where it can’t get a good chill down in the wintertime, apparently. It’s also called pie plant, though I have to wonder about the first person who ever thought to make it into a pie. To begin with, the leaves are pretty poisonous, so you have to hope they didn’t try to eat those first. And just biting a big old chunk off the stalk isn’t a good idea either, because sour doesn’t even begin to describe the flavor. It will turn your mouth right inside out, it’s so puckery! I can’t imagine tasting it and thinking “Oh yeah – we’ll just throw some of this in a crust with some strawberries, sugar and stuff, and we will be good to go!” Really? Those must have been some awfully hungry folks is all I can say.rhubarb growing in the gardenRhubarb is about the easiest thing in the world to grow – you can plant just some of the bare roots, or buy it potted up at some garden center places, or maybe get a division from a friend – plunk it in the ground and in 2 or 3 years, you will be pulling it out of there by the armload! If you have had it growing for a while, but it’s not producing as well as it used to, try dividing it and replanting the pieces. If it’s a very old plant though, come equipped with an ax, because the roots are very tough once they get some age. And you heard the part about the leaves being poison, right? I don’t know if they would kill you, if you ate them, but I bet someone else would get to eat your rhubarb crisp for awhile, so discard them before prepping the stalks.

I see it in supermarkets a lot more than I used to, which was never, until about 5 years ago or so. Choose stalks that are firm and crisp – like you would want celery to be. It will keep in the fridge for a week or so – I put it in a paper bag, though I can’t say that it has ever lasted a week around here.cut up rhubarbThe other important ingredient didn’t come from my yard, but just about as close as you can otherwise be – the maple syrup in here came from our neighbor, Jeff, who taps a bunch of trees and spends hours boiling down the sap every year. I can sit on my front porch and watch smoke billowing from the sap house, just across the valley. It is really superior stuff – this is grade B which we always try to get, because it has a deeper flavor than the lighter grades do. It lends a softer sweetness than sugar does that is the perfect balance for the tart rhubarb. If you live in the Southern Tier of upstate NY [Tioga, Broome, Tompkins counties] and want to get some syrup from Jeff, leave me a comment and I will email his phone number to you. In any case, just make sure you use the real stuff – none of that pancake syrup stuff from the supermarket.grade b maple syrupTime to get this stuff made!

Maple Walnut Rhubarb Crisp
Recipe type: Crisps & Cobblers
Serves: 8
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 6 cups of rhubarb - cut in one inch pieces
  • ¾ cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons soft butter
  • 1cup quick oats
  • ⅔ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup toasted walnut pieces
  1. Generously butter a 2 quart flat bottomed baking dish. Preheat oven to 350º
  2. Place the rhubarb pieces in the prepared baking dish, and sprinkle the salt over them evenly.
  3. In a 1 cup measuring cup, mix together the syrup, water and vanilla.
  4. Pour the mixture over the rhubarb.
  5. In a medium bowl, use a pastry cutter to combine the butter, oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt.
  6. When the mixture is nearly uniform, add the nuts and go over everything a bit more with the pastry cutter to get the nuts incorporated.
  7. [alternatively, you can combine everything by pulsing it together in a food processor, but wait till the very end to add the nuts, and only pulse 1 or 2 times once they have been added.
  8. Spread the butter mixture [it will look like big, coarse crumbs] evenly over the rhubarb.
  9. Bake at 350º for about an hour and 10 minutes - until the topping is nicely browned and the fruit is very bubbly around the edges.
  10. Cool for at least 30 minutes before serving, though we think it is best after an hour or so. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days.

It is best to let it sit for about an hour before serving – the filling is very hot when you first take it out of the oven, and the topping will crisp up a little more when it is cooled off.bake maple walnut rhubarb crisp We like it topped with vanilla ice cream, or with whipped cream, sweetened with maple syrup, and then maybe just a little drizzle more of the maple syrup over the top of each serving.plate of maple walnut rhubarb crispIt is definitely one more reason to be glad spring is here!

20 thoughts on “Maple Walnut Rhubarb Crisp

  1. How your Grandma would have loved this! I wonder if I can convince your brother (the one who always gets rhubarb pie for his b’day, to settle for this instead. Probably not, but I’m going to try it anyway.

    • Whoa Mom – look at you, all commenting on blogs and stuff – what will you be doing next I wonder – Facebook???
      And I know that about Grandma – the woman loved her rhubarb! I think if you send that brother to take a look at this, he just might change his mind!

  2. Many thanks for sharing this recipe. The photos are amazing, so I hope I can find some rhubarb at the Farmer’s Market this weekend.

    • You aren’t alone Giulietta – I have heard that from a lot of people. I think once you try it though you will agree that it is amazing!

  3. Barbara Oakley

    I found this on Pinterest, and now I’m pretty sure I have some rhubarb growing out back. I wondered what it was when I moved here a couple years ago, but it looks just like your picture. Do you just cut it all off at ground level to use it? I can hardly wait to try this!

    • Barbara – you don’t cut it all off. To harvest rhubarb, just gently tug on the outermost stalks – they should come out fairly easily. You want to leave the inside stalks to grow, and if the plant is older, you might get several harvests, before leaving the rest of it to grow over the summer.

  4. This looks really delicious and I’m passing the idea along to my wife who is the big baker around here. Now, if we can just find some rhubarb!!

  5. Hi Donalyn, My name is Fran and I found your blog through Maureen’s Orgasmic Chef blog. I really like rhubarb but find I have to load on the sugar (or maple sugar) to overcome the tartness. I envy you having two acres to grow things on!

    • Hi Fran & welcome! I find that not all rhubarb has the same level of tartness – I grow 3 different kinds and each differs from the others. That makes it hard to judge exactly how much sweetener to use. We don’t mind a bit of tartness, but everyone’s taste is different. If I got it all baked up and found it to be too tart, I would drizzle over a bit more maple syrup, or make the whipped cream sweeter than normal.

      And having two acres to grow things on is pretty darned wonderful – we are blessed!

  6. Hello Donalyn,

    Thanks so much for stopping by my site so that I could find yours. I love your site, great recipes. I am delighted to see it is from the garden to the table. Your rhubarb plant looks so healthy and your rhubarb crisp even better. My mouth is watering just imagining that first delicious bite. Looking forward to keeping in touch. Have a super weekend. Take Care, BAM

  7. Pingback: Rhubarb Kuchen | The Creekside Cook

  8. We have quite a bit of rhubarb to go through as well. Have tried different crisps combinations already, like apple and strawberry today. Loved your addition of maple and tried it for todays crisp as well 🙂

  9. Pingback: An Edible Mosaic™ » 45 Springtime Desserts That Are Perfect for Easter

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