the gift that keeps on giving

Limoncello.  Have you ever tried it?  It’s tart, but sweet and lemony and simply delicious.  It really and truly is.  Especially when sipped after a wonderful meal, while sitting facing the mediterranean and enjoying a lovely getaway on the Amafli Coast.  That, my friends is how I was really and truly introduced to limoncello…

I visited Italy for the first time last year (best vacation of my life…ever) – – a five-day getaway: Rome and the Amafli coast… pretty amazing non?  Imagine… riding along the coast on a moped scooter… stopping along the way to wander among lemon trees, enjoy some gelato and then eat the worst meal of you life! HA! Bet you weren’t expecting that were you?!  Well it’s true… it was a beautiful day only slightly marred by the pizza I ordered that evening.  But that really doesn’t matter… I get to giggle about it whenever I think of my trip… and I can actually say I had the worst pizza of my life in Italy!  Classic!

You’re probably wondering how any of the above has anything to do with baking… I’m getting to it!

So I visited Italy, fell in love with the country, and their limoncello.  Tart, sweet, bright yellow.  Perfection.  The person I visited was smitten by my love of this drink and so he brought me home a wonderful bottle of the stuff (according to him – the best limoncello in the entire world…for reals)… which I keep in my freezer, ice-cold and ready to be served or even better, to be used in baking a crisp.

bright yellow, sweetly tart… limoncello – gift from the Roman gods…

Yep.  That’s right.  Strawberry-rhubarb limoncello crisp.  My new favourite thing (I realize that I have many favourite things… apologies if you have any difficulties keeping up…).  First off… forget strawberries and chocolate: think strawberries and limoncello.  The boldness of flavour from the liquor and the sweetness of the fresh berries simply burst in your mouth.  Added to that the tartness of the rhubarb, all macerated in a little sugar.  A million sighs of bliss.  And then you get to add a buttery, nutty, sugary topping… just perfectly baked and crunchy.  Oh… how I heart crisps.  Especially this one.

I whipped up this recipe last week – I had some fresh rhubarb in my fridge, a litre of strawberries waiting patiently to be used and absolutely no lemon.  You see… I’d made a crisp the week prior using fresh lemon juice and zest and was really, very pleased with the result (it was my inital recipe for my Rogers Cable appearance – pre brownies).  So when I didn’t have a lemon on hand I decided to go to the next best thing (which I now realize is the better thing) – limoncello.  I’d like to say that I added a splash of liquor to the fruit.  Wrong.  I really, and truly drenched them.  I wanted to taste the  luxuriance of the limoncello… I didn’t need just a sprinkle of flavour – it needed to be a punch of flavour: intense and bold.  I was successful (I brought it to a family reunion to rave reviews… and Julie sampled some too and thinks it’s the best thing I’ve ever baked).  In a word… this dish is simply a-maz-ing

strawberry-rhubarb limoncello crisp

ingredients:

fruit base:

4 c. fresh rhubarb, cleaned and chopped into 1-inch pieces

4 c. fresh strawberries, cleaned, de-steamed and quartered

3/4 c. white sugar

1 tbsp flour

1/4 – 1/3 c. limoncello, add according to taste (my tip is to add a little at a time… you can always add more to flavour)

Preheat your oven to 375 F.  Grab a rectangular pan (13×9) – – no need to spray the pan.  Just have it ready and on hand.

The first thing you should do is clean, trim and chop your fruit.  Place all of it in a large bowl.

cut and cleaned rhubarb

strawberry tops… trimed off

Pour the sugar and flour over the fruit and, using your hands, lightly mix everything around.  You’ll notice that the juices will start flowing… can’t you smell how delicious it already is? 

Now… pour.  Start pouring that limoncello over your fruit base… stirring with your hands – gently tossing everything so that it is well blended.

saturating the fruit in limoncello… brilliant!

step 2 – gently tossing the fruit

Set aside.  And yes… at this point I did lick my fingers and realized how wonderful it all tasted.  Don’t worry – I washed my hands before getting to the next stage.

crisp topping:

1 c. butter, melted and browned

3/4 c. flour

1 1/2 c. oats

1/2 c. oatbran

1 1/4 c. brown sugar

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt your butter.  Allow it to brown – I did this by mistake (I was gathering all my dry ingredients and realized that it had gone brown) – best mistake ever!  Brown it so that it becomes dark and nutty in scent and in flavour.  Remove from heat.

oatbran and oats… a beautiful combination (always)

In either a large bowl, or the bowl of your stand-mixer, combine the flour, oats, oatbran (a healthy, great secret ingredient) and the brown sugar.  Now pour the melted butter over-top and mix everything (low speed with the paddle attachment or with a wooden spoon by hand).   The mixture will get dark, almost like wet sand.  That’s a good thing.  It means the butter is working its magic and is saturating the dry ingredients :0)

Once done, pour the fruit base into your rectangular pan.  Then grab the topping and sprinkle it evenly over top – I had enough to form a real crust over the entire thing.

Bake in the oven for  40 – 45 minutes – you want the top to be nice and crispy (it is a crisp afterall) and the filling to be nice and soft. 

sampling the goods… I couldn’t wait until the weekend…

Ah… the contrast in textures and flavours; a nutty topping (the butter, oats and oatbran make it so) and a tart, base (berries and limoncello)  Gorgeous.

all gone… millions of sighs of happiness

*note:  I have also attempted this recipe with: less butter and less sugar.  It works – you could still make it with 1/2 c. butter and 3/4 c. brown sugar – but I would then decrease your dry ingredients… that version didn’t get as crispy, nor was it as rich.  But it was still a solid crisp topping.  Your choice.

That bottle of limoncello really is the gift that keeps on giving… such a nice, thoughtful and prefect souvenir from Italy… my vacation in a bottle – minus the bad pizza ;0)

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2 thoughts on “the gift that keeps on giving

  1. Thanks Lynne! I have been waiting for this recipe! Can’t wait to try it for my family when I got to Toronto in a couple of weeks! xox

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