Monday, July 7

Triple Berry Rhubarb Crisp (and Why It's Not a Cobbler or a Crumble)

rhubarb berry crumble half bowl

I never remember the difference between a crisp, a crumble, and a cobbler (not to mention brown bettys, slumps, or grunts).

Crisps, crumbles, and cobblers are all low-maintenance desserts made with seasonal fruits or berries that have the flavor of pie without the work of actually making one.

A crisp is made by mixing fruit of your choice with sugar and spices then topping it with a crisp mix made of butter and sugar and a binding agent such as flour or oatmeal.

A crumble is similar to a crisp. It's made by mixing fruit with sugar and spices and topping it with a streusel, a mixture of butter, sugar, flour, and nuts.

Cobblers take longer to make than crisps and crumbles because they have a dough-like crust. Some cobblers are made with enclosed crusts while others, like my Fresh Apricot and Cherry Cobbler with Buttermilk Biscuit Crust, are made with a biscuit topping.

So when I felt like having a rhubarb berry pie but didn't feel like making a pie crust, I made a crisp (aka a lazy Susan's pie). Since I prefer a highly textured crisp, I combined chewy oatmeal, crunchy nuts, and flaky coconut. Part of the crisp's beauty though is its versatility, so have fun experimenting with different fruit and crisp combinations until you find one that tickles your palate. Or just make this triple berry rhubarb crisp.

rhubarb berry crumble spooned out

Tangy rhubarb is mellowed by succulent vine-ripened strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries for a satisfyingly sweet-tart dessert. Though it's effortless to make, it never fails to elicit smiles from guests who delight in the sugary fruit bubbling around the edges of the crisp.

It's delicious as is, but I don't need to tell you that adding a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream doesn't hurt.

Triple Berry Rhubarb Crisp
Serves 6
Print recipe only here.

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup chopped almonds or sliced almonds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
4 tablespoons butter

2 cups chopped rhubarb (about 1 pound), sliced into 1/2-inch thick pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
1 cup fresh blackberries
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 3 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9-inch round pie dish with cooking spray.

To make the crisp, place the sugar, flour, oats, and coconut in a medium bowl, and using your hands, gently mix it, breaking up any large clumps. Add the almonds, cinnamon, and ground ginger. Toss gently. Pour melted butter evenly over the mixture, and gently stir with a spoon until well combined and moist.

To make the fruit filling, in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, add the rhubarb and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes (it will release water, so it won't burn). Add the sugars, berries, and ginger to the pan gently crushing the fruit with a fork or spoon. Once it reaches a boil, add the dissolved cornstarch. Return to a boil, whisking constantly, for 3-5 minutes, or until the mixture is thick. Turn off heat, and stir in the vanilla extract.

Pour the fruit filling into the prepared pie dish, and sprinkle the crisp mix evenly over the top. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the topping is golden and fruit filling is bubbling up around the edges. Allow to cool before serving. It's best served at room temperature or just slightly warm.

You might also like:

Fresh Apricot and Cherry Cobbler with Buttermilk Biscuit Crust

Fresh Cherry and Peach Upside-Down Cake

Mini Custards with Limoncello-Spiked Raspberry Sauce

Strawberry-Rhubarb Sponge Pudding

And a few more:

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ames said...

Yummmmmm that looks delicious! I just want to roll around in it (with vanilla ice cream of course). Our crisps *always* include oats, growing up our camping trips always included huckleberry picking and crisp for dessert (and breakfast). Quintessential summer!

Peter M said...

Thanks for the clarification, I always mix up cobblers and crisps bias being to a crisp. despite my avoidance of rhubarb, I'd sink into this delite.

Pip said...

:-o I've learned something new, I love this triple berry rhubarb crisp! I've always made crumbles but never crisps or cobblers. I think that I'll make one next w/e, unfortunately it's really hard to find rhubarb here! :(

Le Flâneur Novice said...

Omg! Susan :D

This one is far more seductive than your "seductive strawberry salad" to me!

I do love crumbles. (Thought crisps is a new thing I've learnt right now by you). Soft, moist fruits (especially berries) topped with something crispy/crunchy is wo-hoo lol

Thanks for sharing it...

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Wow, gorgeous! I'm drooling... I love such summery treats!



Chris said...

mmmmmmm! Yummy! And, I too thank you for the clarification...I always intermingle the three. :) Now I can address the food appropriately!

Ivy said...

Although I never had rhubarb fruit before your triple crisp looks delicious.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I can never remember what's a cobbler, what's a crisp, what's a crumble. Glad to know I'm not the only one who gets confused. Rhubarb is still abundant in my neighbor's garden, so I can give this a try.

Anonymous said...

Oh this is SOO going to be made this week!!! I have everything here except the fruit.... Can this be make with apples? If so, then I'm done. I love it, easy, sweet, easy & tasty. Thank you for sharing. I hope you had a great 4th.

xoxox Amy

Anonymous said...

I don't care what you call it..just pass some over here! (with vanilla ice cream? ;)

Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said...

Great explanation Susan..I always mix those up! Your crisp looks really vibrant with all those berries and so delicious!

Elly said...

I always mix them up, too, so thanks for the clarification. This looks SO good. You've used all my favorite fruits and that topping is just amazing with the coconut, spices & almonds.

Heather said...

mmm how beautiful! this looks delicious!

glamah16 said...

I mix them all up all the time. What I do know is that summer fruit makes the best desserts like what you have here.

Proud Italian Cook said...

I have a big container of blueberries and I was searching for a cobbler recipe today, then I got sidetracked and never made it.
Thank goodness!!! I'm trying this!

Johanna GGG said...

crisps, crumbles and cobblers - it seems like trying to tell siblings apart - so much family resemblence! but nothing like a delish berry and rhubarb combination to make it all make sense

grace said...

and now we know! thanks for clearing up any confusion. personally, as long as fruit and butter are somehow involved, i don't care what it's called. :)

Anonymous said...

So beautiful, Susan...! And produce I can buy, too! :-)

Cakelaw said...

Delicious and wonderful to look at too.

Anonymous said...

I looks mighty delicious, I still have some rhubarb in the freezer, maybe I'll try it out :)

btw - it could be just me but shouldn't this be called crumble according to your definitions? The only difference between a crisp and a crumble would be the nuts... Or is the fact that you use oatmeal that makes it a crisp instead of a crumble? Not that I'm an expert, never even knew that a crip excisted ;) And never made a crumble or a cobbler either.

Anonymous said...

Hi susan,
Thats sumthng unusual for me...but i loved to imagine this combo
And susan there is something for u on my site,i will be obliged if u accepted it

Lore said...

Looks spectacular! And beside being a berry heaven there's also some rhubarb involved. Cool :)

Pam said...

I love crisps... they are one of my favorite. Your flavors sound really good together - nice job!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I guess truth be know I don't care much what you call it, if it's got rhubarb in it I'm probably going to love it. This is beautiful Susan.

Deeba PAB said...

Cobbler,crisp,crumble...all that escapes my mouth is grunt grunt! Outstanding as ever Susan...temptation of this sort is tortue & the vanilla scoop makes it worse!!

Mishmash ! said...

Whats in a name when the dessert is as decadent as this one!!!! i love such quickies...

Annie said...

Ah, I do same thing every summer when it comes time to make crisps, cobblers, etc. (I forget which is which that is)
And even though I just read this today I'm sure I will forget again. I guess I'll have to come back and look it up!!
The crisp looks delicious, I like the idea of putting fresh ginger in for a little punch of flavor!

Unknown said...

That berry crisp looks really good!

redmenace said...

I blogged crisp this week too! I could eat it every every every day!

Kajal@aapplemint said...

hmm... well i honestly thoust they were all more or less the same ...but like you said, make what suits you best :)
And i 'm sure i'd love a scoop of vanilla ice cream with that :)

Meeta K. Wolff said...

crips cobbler or crumble i'd do not give a "grunt" about the name - as look as they all look as good as this. lovely recipe and i too am an extra crispy type of girl!

Dana said...

Hahaha, yes, people confuse the names all the time, but regardless, I think they are all delicious -- and this one sounds especially good! I love anything made with rhubarb.

Deborah said...

I always get them confused. But I'll take this - no matter what it's called!

Helene said...

I was just wondering what to do with the last 3 stalks of rhubarb I have! This looks delicious!

Elle said...

That looks SOOOO yummy! Crisps, crumbles and cobblers are all favorites at my house. Thanks for such a great recipe.

Manggy said...

Good summary, Susan :) You've somehow awakened my inner taxonomist and I feel like categorizing desserts by orders, families, and genera, lol :) Could you possibly mail me a big portion of that? Don't worry about the ice cream, I'll get some from here :D

K Allrich said...

Susan, Your crisp looks lip smacking tasty! I love the extra berry goodness you've added to a classic rhubarb crisp. Sounds heavenly.

Big Boys Oven said...

wow triple berries and with rhubarb, this must be so exciting in taste and so so beautiful!

Stella said...

THanks for pointing out those differences Susan. And that crisp of yours looks UBER delightful & yummy!

Patricia Scarpin said...

A very educational post, Susan, especially for those of us, abroad. But I'm hungry and craving the dessert anyway. ;)

Mansi said...

oh! this looks heavenly Susan! yeah, I get confused betwn crisps and crumbles too:) I'm gonna try making a raspberry one similar to yours:)

btw, as you have used oats and less Ap flour, along with brown sugar and berries, this could be an apt entry for my healthy cooking event:)

CookiePie said...

This looks FANTASTIC! I would like a big portion with vanilla ice cream, please.

By the way, a grunt or slump is similar to a cobbler but it's cooked on the stove, so the dumplings.biscuits are steamed. And a brown betty is made with toasted breadcrumbs. All yummy!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

ames-Ooh, huckleberry picking! Now that's a camping trip I get into.

peterm-This may convert you yet.

pip-The great thing is they're so versatile.

bal-I love them both, though I am partial to the crispier crisps. ;)

rosa-I do too. Thanks!

chris-You're welcome!

ivy-Oh, you've got to try it!

lydia-Hope you do!

amy-Sure, you can use any fruit combination you'd like. Let me know how it turns out!

maryann-Done. :)

peterg-Thanks a bunch!

elly-I adore the coconut.

heather-Many thanks.

coco-I agree totally.

marie-Thank goodness is right. You won't be disappointed. :)

johanna-That's true, like triplets!

grace-I hear ya.



linda-I think it is more the oatmeal because it gives it that characteristic crispiness. Crumbles are softer and more buttery, like a streusel. Does that make sense? :)

alka-Why, thank you. I'll come check it out.

lore-It is berry heaven.

pam-Thanks so much!

tanna-I'm with you.

deeba-And "grunts" are another type!

shn-I love the ease of it too. Makes it faster to eat it! ;)

annie-I'll be looking back at this post too! I love fresh ginger with fruit.


redmenance-Me too!

kate-Vanilla can't ever hurt.

meeta-You too? All right!

dana-Well, I appreciate that.

deborah-Comin' up!

tartlette-Hope you enjoy it!

elle-Mine too. So homey and delicious.

mark-I've got a better idea. You come to CA for a visit, we'll go to farmers markets together, then I'll make you a whole crisp! :)

karina-With the rhubarb, it was lip-smacking good. :)

bigboysoven-It wowed my tastebuds!

stella-UBER thanks to you. :)

patricia-Dessert is good anytime.

mansi-Oh, yeah, it would be wonderful with raspberries.

cookiepie-Thanks for the extra explanations. You know your fruit desserts really well. :)

Susan said...

Tis the season for crisps. I just created one a few posts ago. Got hooked on them in Maine, where wild blueberries take center stage in the summer. Nice super-red treat, Susan.

Half Baked said...

Thanks for the clarafication. I always get them mixed up, but I love them all!!! Your crisp looks divine:)

KayKat said...

crisp ... cobbler ... crumble ...
grumble ... grumble ...
I have to remember the name
AND drool in vain!



Jaime said...

i have yet to try rhubarb but will be soon for TWD! i can never remember the difference b/w a cobbler, crisp, or crumble...just that i love them all :) this looks delicious

bee said...

i am so trying this - with berries from my garden.

Jeanne said...

You had me at hello... :o)

That must be the personification of summer in a dish - what an inredible colour! I've been playing with rhubarb lately and I'm totally in love with its tangy taste. Thanks for the crisp/cobbler primer :)