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Entries in desserts (2)

Thursday
Aug192010

Cobbler.

Pies, cobblers, buckles, crisps, slumps, grunts, tarts, galettes...did I miss any?  Oh right--pandowdys, teacakes, crumbles, and of course bettys, fools, and trifles.  I love any playfully named fruit dessert.  And I think I've tried at least one variation of them all.

But this summer, I've been stuck on cobblers.  I'd call it a rut, but I think the term 'rut' evokes something you'd like to get out of.  And that is certainly not the case. 

A cobbler is traditionally a deep-dish fruit dessert.  Usually there is no bottom crust, not that you'll miss it if the top crust--a dense, sweet cream biscuit--is done right.  Some cobbler recipes call for you to precook the fruit, have a special ingredient on hand...or, for goodness sake, roll out the topping dough.  I've tried many recipes.  And many of them were great.  Fantastic, even.  And they are surely dog-eared for company.  But for us?  When the threat of too many dirty utensils is certain to stop me from attempting a homemade dessert at dinner time...well, you can understand my dilemma.  Because summer without endless cobbler?  I think not. 

Enter a simpler, humble version, ready to be adapted to whatever is lurking in your fridge.  It is my every day cobbler recipe, though I should probably call it my every-other-day cobbler recipe because that's roughly how often I've made it this season.  You can find fancier.  And you can even find, I daresay, tastier.  But easier and faster and still hit all the right cobbler notes?  Hmmm, again, I think not. 

 

Basic Cobbler Recipe **any fruit will work, though I suggest a stone fruit, like peaches, along with a handful of ripe berries, like blackberries or blueberries.  I'm a big fan of such combos (and I do mean big (or at least squishy) if you catch my eating-too-much-cobbler drift).  Oh, and see the apples above?  Sometimes those sneak in there, too.**

Ingredients

Fruit filling

  • 4 cups prepped fruit (washed, peeled, etc...to blanch-peel peaches, make a little x at the base with a sharp knife, plunge into boiling water for about 30 seconds, remove, allow to cool a bit, slip skins off)
  • 1 Tbl corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar (sometimes I do 1/4 white + 1/4 brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Topping

  • 1 C flour
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 T butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 C milk/buttermilk/cream...whatever you need to use up in your fridge--each of these results in a slightly different biscuit so I recommend trying each one to determine your favorite.

Directions

Preheat oven to 425.  For filling, rub the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt together.  Add fruit and gently toss.  Spoon fruit, including all rendered juices, into a pie pan.  For topping, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl.  Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, cut in butter until the size of large peas.  Pour in the milk/buttermilk/cream and vanilla.  Stir just until the liquid is incorporated into the dry ingredients and forms a batter (it will be lumpy).  Drop by large spoonfuls on top of fruit--no need to cover the fruit completely.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until fruit filling is bubbly and biscuits are golden.  Eat warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Repeat again and again and again...

Sandra

Thursday
Aug202009

Favorite Lemon Bar No. 2.

  

The boys love, love, love lemon bars--which makes me laugh.  I mean, I love lemon bars, too.  But I'm pretty sure I didn't discover just how much until well into my college years.  Before that it was all chocolate, all the time--it often still is but now I love just about every dessert.  In fact, I am the absolute worst person to be with when it's time to order dessert.  As I look over the menu, the convo in my head goes something like this, "oooh, chocolate molten cake.  Hmmm.  But I've had that a gazillion times.  Ohhh, blackberry fool.  Yum!  I love berries.  Oh! Oh! Oh!!!! Burnt sugar flan with coconut sauce.  That sounds amazing--and different.  But then there's a banana bread pudding--you can't go wrong with a bread pudding."  And so it goes, round and round, my own version of dessert roulette until someone makes me choose.  But in the end, I actually don't choose.  I just go with wherever my mental ball lands when the waiter arrives, declaring the choice in a flustered manner with my eyes shut tight, scared stiff that I'm making the wrong choice.  My poor husband. 

Anyhoo.  Back to lemon bars.

The boys like to bake with me and one of our past favorite lemon bar recipes called for cutting in chilled butter for the crust dough.  I'll go ahead and pass on that when cooking with children.  So I started looking for a new recipe that still gave us a to-die-for crust without fussing with airborne butter (more specifically, butter bits flicked by a four-year-old with remarkable aim). 

 

I found one that used softened butter and brown sugar.  You give up the flaky, shortbread crust you get with the cut-in cold butter.  But you get a nice, chewy crust--almost carmelized--due to the brown sugar and softened butter.  The filling could be tarter in my opinion so I plan to tweak that a bit.  I did not have enough lemon juice for the recipe, so I added some lime juice.  Maybe that made a big difference?  Next time, I will play around and add at least another 1/4 cup of lemon juice (or maybe lime juice--I liked the flavor it brought).  I think with all the eggs, the filling will still set up, as it was plenty firm.

Lemon Bars (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, May 2008)

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar (*I used less, about 2 cups total)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (*I'm going for a generous 1/2 cup next time, plus the juice of one lime)
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 13x9x2-inch pan with heavy foil; set aside.
  2. For crust, in large mixing bowl, hand beat softened butter with wood spoon then add brown sugar, beating until combined.  Beat in 2 cups flour until crumbly.  Evenly press on bottom of prepared pan.  Bake 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, for filling:  in medium bowl, combine eggs, granulated sugar, remaining 1/2 cup flour, lemon/lime juice, and baking powder.  Beat until well blended.  Remix right before pouring onto hot crust.  Bake 20 minutes more or until edges are browned and center appears set.
  4. Remove to rack, allowing to cool in pan for 1 hour.  Refrigerate, covered, 2 hours.  To serve, lift from pan using foil and cut into bars.
  5. Store, covered, in refrigerator up to 3 days.

Enjoy!