Category: cobbler

Maple apple walnut crisp, celebrating fall.

Autumn in NY: fall leaves

The word “crisp” always reminds me of fall. In all of it’s meanings, it applies to autumn: the weather is (usually) crisp, apples are crisp when you bite into them, the leaves are crisp- they crunch under your feet, and of course, you can bake things like crisps without your face melting off.

It’s nice to be able to put the oven on & have the windows open… instead of cranking the A/C higher to compensate.

Beautiful, shiny fall apples... just waiting to be baked!

Well, here in New York, anyway.

And it’s about time. I shouldn’t really complain: we didn’t have ONE day over 90° in August this year, and September was relatively pleasant. A bit humid & muggy at times, but all in all it was mostly very cool, sunny days & nice breezes (and some positively cold evenings). October started off HORRIBLE with 86° weather & humidity like crazy, but it evened out into nicer “fall like” temperatures. And lately it’s been really nice… not too cold, sunny, and… wait for it… crisp. I have to say it always dismays me when the weather skips past fall & goes right from sweltering to freezing. Ya gotta give me a little crisp fall weather, Mama Nature!

I say that knowing tonight it’s supposed to dip down to 37 degrees.

A delicious maple apple walnut crisp recipe!

Anyway, can we talk about “crisps”? No, not the U.K. version of a crisp. The baked, dessert-y, fruity, sugary cobbler-like version.

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Very cherry berry cobbler.

I want to thank everyone for all the birthday wishes! I know I posted the other day but that post was set up to go off in case I wasn’t around, and I didn’t get the chance to personalize it. But I was blown away by all the e-mails, messages, Facebook comments, Twitter messages/replies, Instagram comments, etc, etc. that you all left for me. As a matter of fact, I had to turn the sound on my iPhone off! The notifications were going bananas. You all really know how to make a girl feel loved. You’re very sweet.

I’m officially 31 now, which either makes me the coolest 30-something in New York or a 30-something very much in denial of her un-coolness. Either way, I’ve got a new recipe for you. So let’s go with the former & say that this is the coolest cherry-berry cobbler made by the coolest 30-something ever.

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And speaking of sweet, cobblers are the easiest dessert to make, ever. I know I say that a lot. And it’s usually true- most people just assume because something is homemade it takes forever to make & is either complicated or difficult… and they’re wrong. Homemade stuff usually takes no more time or effort to make than prepared foods. But really, this time it’s 100% true. Cobblers require very few ingredients, very little mixing, and basically no little ahead-of-time preparation. If you use canned fruit- it requires even LESS than no preparation. Less than no… is that even grammatically correct? I don’t think so.

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Cobbler refers to a variety of dishes, particularly in the United States and United Kingdom, consisting of a fruit or savoury filling poured into a large baking dish and covered with a batter, biscuit, or pie crust before being baked. Unlike a pie, cobbler never contains a bottom crust.

Cobblers originated in the early British American colonies. English settlers were unable to make traditional suet puddings due to lack of suitable ingredients and cooking equipment, so instead covered a stewed filling with a layer of uncooked plain biscuits or dumplings, fitted together. When fully cooked, the surface has the appearance of a cobbled street.[1] The name may also derive from the fact that the ingredients are “cobbled” together.

In the United States, varieties of cobbler include the Betty, the Grunt, the Slump, the Buckle, and the Sonker. The Crisp or Crumble differ from the cobbler in that their top layers are generally made with oatmeal.[2] Grunts, Pandowdy, and Slumps are a New England variety of cobbler, typically cooked on the stove-top or cooked in an iron skillet or pan with the dough on top in the shape of dumplings—they reportedly take their name from the grunting sound they make while cooking. A Buckle is made with yellow batter (like cake batter), with the filling mixed in with the batter. Apple pan dowdy is an apple cobbler whose crust has been broken and perhaps stirred back into the filling. The Sonker is unique to North Carolina: it is a deep-dish version of the American cobbler. In the Deep South, cobblers most commonly come in single fruit varieties and are named as such, such as blackberry, blueberry, and peach cobbler. The Deep South tradition also gives the option of topping the fruit cobbler with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream.

-Wikipedia

I am not above using canned fruit for a cobbler. In fact, it’s a really easy shortcut to use and if you do what I did, which is add fresh fruit to it, there’s no reason why anyone has to even know you used a can at all. I happened to have beautiful strawberries that I needed to use, so that’s what I added. You can also add some fresh blueberries or some fresh raspberries too. And by that same token, you can use canned blueberry pie or peach pie filling and add other fruit to those as well. You can use canned strawberry pie filling and add some fresh rhubarb during rhubarb season, too. There are tons of combinations and possibilities for this. Just be sure you use a can that’s 21 ounces, no less. You want a nice, thick cobbler bursting with fruit.

It looks spectacular. Tastes spectacular. And it takes like, 95 minutes total to make, including the baking & cooling time (which is roughly 80 minutes). That means total prep time is maybe 15 minutes. I made this a while back, yes, and people have been harassing me about posting the recipe since they first saw a sneak peek on Facebook. But due to summer activities I’ve been playing catch up with posts and somehow I’m a few weeks behind in posting. I think it’s because I have so many things I want to share with you guys and not enough days in the week! Someone get on that. Maybe give us an extra day somehow.

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CHERRY BERRY COBBLER

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 21-ounce can cherry pie filling
  • 5-6 strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 275° F. Add butter to the 2-quart 8″ x 8″ baking dish (this would probably also work in a 9″ x 13″ dish as well, though it won’t be as thick) and place in the oven just until the butter melts. Meanwhile, mix sugar, flour & baking powder in a medium bowl. Add milk, stir until combined.
  2. When the butter is melted, remove the dish from the oven and add the batter. DO NOT STIR. Add cherry pie filling randomly on top, again not stirring afterwards. Place strawberry slices evenly on top of the entire thing. Return to oven.
  3. Raise oven temperature to 350° F and bake for 50-60 minutes or until cobbler is golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack for 20 minutes before serving.

It will seem, upon removing it from the oven, that there’s too much butter on top. There’s not. Let it sit for the full 20 minutes and you’ll see that the butter absorbs into the batter and makes a moist, delicious, cakey border for the cherry-berry filling. And as it cools further, the butter gets absorbed even more. Don’t believe me? Look:

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That’s why the 20 minute resting period is necessary. Everything has to settle & absorb & cool off just enough that you can eat it without suffering 3rd degree burns on the roof of your mouth. Don’t try and dig in as soon as it’s out of the oven. It won’t be set & it’ll make a mess. Have patience & give it the full 20 minutes it needs.

This cobbler is actually slightly more a ‘buckle’ than a traditional cobbler; especially in that the fruit lays more on top of the batter than the other way around. It’s also interspersed in the batter itself. It’s a beautiful dessert that comes together extremely quickly and yet yields a gorgeous & impressive result. It holds up really well, and gets better as it sits a while, so it’s great to make the day of a cook-out or barbecue. It’s just as good warm as it is room temperature. And of course, you MUST serve it with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. It’s mandatory.

I’m not at all a cherry or berry person (I did not make this for me), but even I can see the beauty & deliciousness of it. Come on. Seriously. How can you hate on this?

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Just a word of advice: because of the high butter content, it doesn’t really refrigerate well. The butter sort of re-formulates and forms a firm layer of, well, butter. So I suggest you make this the day you’re going to eat it or serve it. Or, perhaps chilling it and then heating it up slightly before serving it would be a better option. But seeing as how I didn’t try it, I can’t say.

Happy cobbling.

It’s the time of the season for rhubarb.

“You will escape into domesticity & stifle yourself by falling headfirst into a bowl of cookie batter.”
-Sylvia Plath wrote in her journal in 1957, after a day spent baking a pie.

Rhubarb always seemed to me like an old-fashioned thing. Until the year before last, I was sort of immune to it’s charms, and blissfully unaware that it was even still something people ate. My grandma used to talk about it, as if it was something that was extinct; along with the T-Rex and the icebox. And then of course, Boardwalk Empire made a reference to rhubarb pie, which was just so perfect because honestly, that’s exactly the era I thought people stopped eating it. As a child the only rhubarb I ever heard of was Strawberry Shortcake’s friend’s pet monkey. I didn’t even know if it was a fruit or a vegetable. Truth be told, I still don’t, however thanks to Wikipedia I learned that “…rhubarb is usually considered to be a vegetable; however, in the United States, a New York court decided in 1947 that since it was used in the United States as a fruit, it was to be counted as a fruit for the purposes of regulations and duties. A side effect was a reduction on imported rhubarb tariffs, as tariffs were higher for vegetables than fruits.”[2] And literally, that was the extent of my rhubarb knowledge. Other than some pictures on the web I didn’t even know what it looked like. But then, lo and behold, back in spring of ’10 my mom’s friend Carina sent her an easy recipe for a rhubarb crumble-type thing, and I made it for her after tracking a few stalks of rhubarb like a deranged bounty hunter. Let me tell you, before this canning boom, it was not easy to find around here. Three markets told me they stopped carrying it due to low demand. I’m not even kidding. And then last year, since the crumble was such a big hit, she requested I make her some rhubarb ginger jam. It was a bit easier to find last year, but not like this year.

This year it was in the supermarket! Right out there in the open, the bright pink rhubarb stalks were sitting there all happy with a big sign declaring them. In your average, everyday, suburban supermarket. I was almost irritated, actually, after my two previous years of having to hunt it down. But it’s convenient, I admit. Also it’s convenient that most people (okay, everyone) was walking right past it, so I had my pick.

I decided to make a rhubarb pie slash crumble because I wanted to make something with rhubarb, but also because I wanted to brush up on my pie crust skills… and use a pretty pie plate. I’ve got this new pie plate obsession, you know. It’s sick, and it’s extending into a sort of all-encompassing baking dish obsession. I also decided to make this during the first heatwave of the season, when it was about 86° at 8 p.m. That’s ’cause I’m a genius. So anyway, I made a pie crust for the bottom, filled it with the rhubarb filling, then added a “crumble” on top. Just a plain ol’ down home humble little crumble pie. Easy, impressive, and fun. And summery of course. What’s more summery than rhubarb pie!? For the bottom pie crust, go to this post where I have a recipe, or use your own favorite pie crust recipe. You only need a bottom, though, so be sure to halve it if it’s a double-crust recipe. Or you can refrigerate or even freeze the other half, either in plastic wrap or in a pie plate until you need it.

And as usual, I will not judge you if you use a pre-made or frozen pie crust. Do what you gotta do. But hey look, enough about you. Look at how much better my pie crust is! I might have finally gotten the hang of pie crust rolling. Maybe.

RHUBARB LEMON HUMBLE CRUMBLE PIE

Ingredients:

Pie filling:
  • 1 9″-inch pie crust, ready to go
  • about 1 ½ pounds rhubarb stalks (roughly 7-9 stalks that are around 10″-15″ long)
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 drops pink or red food coloring (100% optional, I didn’t use any myself in this pie but I’m certainly not against it)
Crumble topping:
  • ¼ cup butter, room temperature (not too soft, not too cold)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup old-fashioned rolled oats

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare pie crust in a pie plate or pan, set aside. Combine lemon zest and 1 cup sugar in a bowl and let sit for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Trim and rinse the rhubarb stalks. Slice particularly thick or large stalks in half lengthwise, then slice crosswise in ½” to 1″-inch lengths. Combine sliced rhubarb and water in a medium saucepan. In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons flour with the lemon zest/sugar mixture, stirring until well blended; add to the rhubarb mixture. Stir well and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Cover but leave the cover ajar to let steam escape and continue simmering for about 5 minutes, or just until tender. If desired, add a little red food coloring to make the filling more colorful. Spoon filling into the prepared pie crust.
  3. With a pastry blender or fingers, combine the topping ingredients until blended and crumbly. Sprinkle over the top of the pie. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until topping is browned and the filling is bubbly. Serve slightly warm or room temperature with plenty of whipped cream.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how weird life is. I mean, if you’d told me years ago I’d be making rhubarb crumbles and pickles this time of year and not having boozy barbecues or drinking Heineken’s out of the back of my friend’s boyfriends Jeep until early morning, I might have had you committed. And on top of that, if you told me I’d love being in the kitchen and I’d obsess over kitchenware, I’d just think you were a nutjob. I didn’t really want to be anywhere near a kitchen unless it involved defrosting something or it was Christmas time & there were cookies involved. Can you believe it? It’s kind of bizarre. I used to have watercolors & gouache on my mind & ink stained clothes, now I have recipes on my mind & crusty, floury baking stains on whatever exposed areas of clothing my aprons don’t fully protect. But life takes you down different paths, and where I once thought domesticity was stifling, I know see it as an open door. Life doesn’t always travel the exact trail we think it will, we have to be open to new things, new ideas, new concepts. New ingredients aren’t exempt from that either. Who the fuck would’ve thought that I would be baking… least of all baking with rhubarb?! ‘Cause when was the last time you knew someone who knew that the hell rhubarb was? And I mean someone who wasn’t a baker or food preserver, and most especially someone who doesn’t have a food blog.

Exactly. But now you know about rhubarb, and all it’s tart wonderfulness… and thanks to these lovely ladies, you have lots of other choices on how to use it.

I still love art. I still love to draw, although lately it’s been more digital art/graphic design (and a bit of photography for the blog) than anything else. But it’s okay, because I know these things ebb & flow. Right now, my freelance graphic design, my blog and my baking/cooking is what’s happening, someday watercolor painting or drawing will be in the mix again too, along with who knows what else. Gotta get my mojo back is all. But hopefully no matter what, I’ll still always have time to be in the kitchen. One of the best things I ever did back in early 2006 was walk into a kitchen and start cooking & baking. It’s opened me up to a whole new world I never even thought about. It saved me. I don’t know where I would be right now without that outlet. I’ve cooked and baked and canned my way through every sad, happy, funny or boring day for the past almost 7 years. It’s been part learning experience, part coping mechanism, part creative outlet. It’s been both my Prozac and at times my biggest aggravation. But at the end of the day I always felt better, thanks to it. Maybe… if you need saving too, you should try it. Make some rhubarb crumble pie. Just give it a shot. Especially if it’s new. It might open up a new door for you.

And by the way, Sylvia, domesticity ain’t so bad. It might have even saved you, if you’d have let it.

Van Gogh’s “la fraise & la liqueur de chocolat” jam… & cobbler too.

I’m not exactly giving you a recipe today, at least not for the jam… I’ll explain all of that later. I’m really just giving an idea for the jam. The recipe is actually for the mini cobblers made with the jam.

I named this jam Van Gogh’s “la fraise & la liqueur de chocolat”  jam, which means roughly “strawberry & chocolate liqueur jam” after one of my favorite artist’s, Vincent Van Gogh, not because of any particular thing in common with him. He didn’t really paint strawberries, although in the 1880’s, he did write in several letters to his brother Theo about his efforts to “eat strawberries in the spring” ; a reference not only to his actually eating strawberries, but also a reference to learning to enjoy things in the moment. And to me, that’s a nice thought- enjoy things in the moment. Life is short, and we might as well enjoy the little things as we can. Too often we get caught up in the bullshit of every day life & we forget to stop & “eat strawberries in the spring.” I’ve been thinking of that ever since I read it, and especially with recent events I think it’s really important. My grandma lived every day to the fullest, and enjoyed every single day. She definitely ate her strawberries in the spring. And that’s a lesson we should all learn.

Sadly, Van Gogh was very troubled and cut off his own ear, so I’m guessing he wasn’t eating a lot of strawberries or enjoying a whole lot of things at the time.

Mirror image self-portrait, 1889

So all of that sounds nice (except the ear-cutting part). However there was another factor in my naming this jam.

That other factor: Van Gogh’s Amsterdam Chocolate liqueur, which, obviously, is a key ingredient in the jam. Say what?! Oh yes. Behold:

My liquor shelf be poppin’, yo!

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Yep. That’s right. There’s no actual chocolate in this jam. Just chocolate liqueur. It’s so good. This one happens to have a great chocolate flavor, not bitter & not fake-tasting, with no cream (unlike the Mozart or Godiva liqueurs which are divine but being cream based, I can only imagine they would not bode well for jam making). Perfect in a martini or even straight up. It looks as though it’s a bit difficult to find now, I bought it a while ago but I’m fairly sure my liquor store still sells it. Anyway, you could just as easily use a chocolate vodka, vanilla vodka, regular vodka, any liqueur not cream based… and even Chambord or Cointreau. Whatever flavor you like. I just happen to think strawberries & chocolate are a great flavor combination, so that’s why this struck me as a good idea. But why not use blackberries & Chambord? Or raspberries & pomegranate vodka? It all sounds pretty awesome. And if you’re gonna make a jam, why not make one with liquor!? Isn’t there an Ogden Nash quote, “Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker”?

Yes, those are fake strawberries.

Here’s the deal: I made this on a whim after a “buy one get one free” sale on strawberries. I was partially inspired by a jam recipe that Tania made & sent me from Poet in the Pantry, but I wanted to do a different spin on the chocolate/strawberry thing. So I kind of made it up as I went along. I can’t come close to telling you the exact process I went through, and I’d feel terrible if I wrote something up that was awful, & you wasted 2 pounds of berries. So I won’t lead you down a terrible path by giving you one of my mangy, sad, made-up jam recipes that might not work for you. But I will say this: find a good strawberry jam recipe that makes about 3-4 pints (with the use of pectin, unless you’re confident about your strawberries gelling naturally, which I am not), and add  ⅓-½ cup liqueur of your choice to it. I actually only used ¼ cup and it was too subtle for my liking. You could taste it, but not quite enough for me. My base recipe was this small batch one from Food in Jars (except I altered it to use 2 lbs of berries, I added pectin & took out the vanilla).

My jam also took a few days to firm up properly, even with the pectin. It was sorta gelling before I jarred it, but after I stirred in the alcohol it watered down a bit. However, it definitely got more firm as it settled. Possibly it took longer because of the alcohol addition? I’m not sure. If you don’t like to play with fire that way, do the cold plate test until you’re 100% positive it’s ready, then add the liqueur once it definitely is. I knew based on my sugar/acid/pectin that I’d be good, eventually, so I didn’t worry about it setting up. And even if it didn’t, I probably wouldn’t have cared. It was only a small batch, and let’s be honest: strawberry chocolate liqueur ice cream syrup sounds pretty awesome. I am no expert by any means, though, so don’t take my word for it. There are plenty of other people who know what they’re doing far better than I. I’m just a lowly canning neophyte.

Clearly backlit from heaven!

This recipe makes roughly 3 pints. I filled up two & a half-pint jars for the waterbath/canning process, and then had a bit left over that might have been a bit under 6-8 oz. I just put that right in the fridge in an old marmalade jar for immediate use. That little part of the batch firmed up right away, probably from the cold. I had some right away and it was a bit sweet, but I know a lot of jams “mellow” in the jar after processing & sitting, which the small jar did not get a chance to do. Plus, the colder the jam is, the less sweet it will taste, so if you refrigerate it after a few days, even before it’s opened, it’ll dull the sweetness. Same principle as when making ice cream- it may seem too sweet, but when it’s frozen it’s really not. Or something.

What a beautiful jewel-toned ruby colored jam this is. I could just stare at it in the jar all day. But that would be weird, right?

This would be a great cupcake filling, by the way. I’m thinking of a chocolate cupcake with this jam as a filling, and then an Italian meringue buttercream frosting made with some of the jam as well. Unf. That would be phenomenal. And how about a homemade pop-tart made with this? INSANE. Although… on two pieces of soft wheat toast it wasn’t exactly disgusting, let me tell you. Far from it.

But… you can also make it into a bunch of mini cobblers. Strawberry chocolate liqueur mini-cobblers made in little ramekins! Adorable. Totes adorbs. And everything tastes better when it’s homemade start to finish, amirite?

Yep. Take it all in.  Homemade mini-cobblers made with homemade strawberry chocolate liqueur jam. Are you loving this yet?

MINI-STRAWBERRY JAM COBBLERS WITH A KICK

Makes about 8 average sized ramekins

Ingredients:

  • 1 16-ounce jar strawberry chocolate liqueur jam
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold & cut into pieces

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400º F. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil (because the jam will overflow & things will get very messy) and place ramekins on it. Spray ramekins with cooking spray, lightly & evenly, to make clean-up easier later.
  2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder & salt in a medium bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Spoon jam into ramekins, filling almost up to the top, maybe ¾”  away from it.
  3. Top each jam-filled ramekin with a heaping pile of the flour mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until it starts to turn golden-brown. Remove, and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Best eaten when still fairly warm, but I know some people who wouldn’t turn it down room temperature either.

And there you have it. I finally got around to baking something! How exciting. Although it was my first time baking since my grandma passed, and it was pretty hard. I’d normally bring some of whatever I made to her, and she’d eat it and rave about it and tell everyone how amazing it was. But, life goes on, and I know the last thing she’d want is to hear me complain or stop baking or be weepy & sad. At least I keep telling myself that.

Either way, this is some excellent cobbler, and I bet my Nana is pretty pissed that she missed it.