Lori is never likely to forget the spring she discovered the joy of eating rhubarb stalks right from her mother’s garden. The stalks themselves were almost intolerably sour – but when bitten and dipped into a bowl of sweet sugar, it was difficult to imagine anything better. The trick, of course, was talking her mother out of the bowl of sugar.

This dessert capitalizes on the delicious versatility of maple syrup, a natural sweetener with an affinity for rhubarb. The sweet perfume of fresh vanilla augments the caramel-like flavor of the maple syrup, while the sweet spiciness of ginger snaps adds crunch and flavor to the dish.

Vanilla Maple Rhubarb Crisp
By Lori & Paul
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

1/2 cup maple syrup
1 vanilla bean
2 pounds fresh rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces
25 gingersnaps
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup butter, melted and cooled
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup rolled oats

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°F

Place maple syrup into a bowl. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and, with the back of a knife, scrape the seeds into the syrup and whisk to combine. Reserve the spent vanilla pods for another use. Toss syrup with chopped rhubarb to coat.

Crush gingersnaps in food processor. Add sugar, flour and baking powder and process until combined. Add melted butter and vanilla extract, processing until mixture is combined. Stir in rolled oats by hand.

Butter a 2-quart casserole dish and press a thin layer of the gingersnap mixture on the bottom. Pour in the rhubarb mixture and top with the remaining gingersnap crumbs.

Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender and the topping is golden brown. Best served warm or at room temperature.

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