Use up your jam with this jammy crisp

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Every year, I think to myself, "the weather will definitely be nice by the end of March. Just hold on until the end of March. You'll see." I never see. In my entire life, I don't think I've lived through one spring-settled, sunny March. This year was no different.

But now that we're well into April, I think it's time to celebrate spring. I've been desperate to make something springy and sweet. Rhubarb immediately came to mind, since it's an early-spring thing, and perfect to toss with strawberries for an easy Sunday dessert. I asked my husband to pick some up on his last grocery trip; he went to two stores, and no rhubarb. Just strawberries.

That gave me an idea — I happened to have two jars of strawberry-rhubarb jam I made and canned last June. It's good to eat home-canned produce within a year of processing, so this is the perfect time for a dessert with jam as a starring or support role. I chose a traditional crisp for its ease, then jazzed it up with a vanilla bean, honey and some cardamom in the crumb topping.

The fresh strawberries tossed with the jam — basically summer in a jar — plus the vanilla bean and honey come together to make a velvety, thick filling on their own, without the aid of pre-cooking or cornstarch.

I designed the crisp topping for a "big" crumb, a nice thick, oaty, sugary layer to lock in all that summery sweetness. (A childhood in downstate New York has made me a fan of New York-style coffee cakes with fat, tall crumb toppings; I try to recreate that topping preference for crisps, pies, etc., as well.) My tip is to mix all the dry crisp ingredients together first, then not worry about the butter chunking off and making uniform, pea-sized crumbs as you mash it together. Leave some dime-sized chunks of butter in there. You will get a better wall/roof of crumb this way. Quick oats, for some reason, also help beef it up.

Jammy strawberry crisp

I know you probably don't have jam you canned left over, but this is definitely the kind of thing you'll find at any farmers market or farm store this time of year.

Ingredients:

1 lb sliced strawberries

1 vanilla bean (scrape out contents) (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)

pint strawberry-rhubarb jam

3 tbsp local honey

1 cup quick oats

1 sticks of butter, softened and sliced

1 cup flour

cup brown sugar

cup white sugar

1 tsp cardamom

Pinch salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375.

In a medium bowl, mix together strawberries, vanilla bean, jam,and honey. Let sit on counter 15-20 minutes.

In another medium bowl, mix together oats, flour, sugars, cardamom and salt. Add sliced butter, and mash with your hands until you have pea-sized butter crumbs.

Spread strawberry mix out into a 9-inch-square pan. Evenly spread crumb topping over strawberries.

Bake for 35 minutes at 375. Let cool at least 15-20 minutes before serving. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream or both!


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