I decided this weekend that I wanted to try to make my ideal cobbler. I love virtually any dessert that involves sticky, sweet-tart cooked fruit that you can top with whipped cream or ice cream, so in a sense, I'm not actually very discerning. At the same time I have this sense about cobblers that, in concept, they could be my favorite dessert of all time (fruit plus cream plus a buttery, crumbly, scone-y biscuit topping?! Sign me up!), but I rarely like them quite as much as I think I will.
So, I decided to try to make my perfect fruit and topping pairing. But then I couldn't decide what my perfect topping is. Tender and moist and cake-like? Airy and biscuity? Buttery and crumbly and shortbread like? They just all sound good. So, I tried to make something that was somehow tender, but still slightly crusty and crumbly, and decidedly buttery, and just a tad airy. Which is maybe a losing battle, but it sure tasted good anyway!
The topping is based off of Nigel Slater's topping because his beefs with cobbler seemed to be mine, so I thought his take would be a good place to start. And the filling, well, apricots are my husband's favorite fruit and so I always wind up baking lots of apricots in the summer, and I've become quite addicted to them myself. One of the best things I ever made was a galette with apricots and huckleberries, but we can't get huckleberries unless we're out visiting his parents in Eastern Washington, so I decided to replace them with blackberries, and I must say, it was practically just as good (but if you can get huckleberries, use them!) —fiveandspice
Test Kitchen Notes
Cobbler for me is all about the topping, and this one gets two things very right in that regard: First, the recipe provides a generous amount of topping, enough for each serving to get a couple solid pieces of the action and second, the topping, once cooled, settles into a rich, cakey biscuit that perfectly complements the bright zing of the blackberry-apricot filling. Do follow instructions to let the cobbler cool before eating -- I found the still-hot topping to be too sandy in texture, like a very crumbly shortbread. The topping (and cobbler as a whole) is even better the next day. —OurSeason
1 1/2 cups
all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons
very cold, unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1 1/2 pounds
ripe apricots, pitted and cut into eighths
1/2 to 2/3 cups
dark brown sugar
crème fraîche (sour cream or Greek yogurt can also work, but crème fraîche is best)
Raw cane sugar, for sprinkling
In This Recipe
Heat your oven to 375° F. In a medium-small bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Using your fingers or two knives, quickly rub or cut the cold butter chunks into the flour mixture until you have incorporated it so that it looks crumbly with pea-sized chunks of butter remaining. Stick this in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
While the dough ingredients rest in the refrigerator, gently toss the apricots and blackberries with the brown sugar and cornstarch. If the apricots are sweet, use only 1/2 cup sugar, but if they are on the tart side, you can use 2/3 cup. Scrape the fruit mixture into a 3-quart baking dish or large skillet.
Take the flour and butter mixture back out of the refrigerator. Stir in the crème fraîche, almond extract, and heavy cream just until everything comes together in a shaggy mess -- there will probably still be some dry parts.
Gather this dough mess together with your hands and press it into a ball, kneading it about 3 times -- as few times as possible to get the dough to come together -- with the leftover dry bits. Either break the dough into walnut-sized chunks, flatten each slightly, and lay them atop the fruit or, if you prefer a neater look, gently press the dough out into a rectangle around 3/4-inch thick, cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares, and lay these evenly over the dough. Sprinkle the topping lightly with raw cane sugar.
Bake the cobbler in the oven until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden brown and crisped around the edges, about 35 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving (so no one scalds their mouth). Serve topped with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or both. The cobbler can be made ahead and rewarmed. Leftovers can be kept covered for a day or two and rewarmed before serving as well.
I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (www.vikredistillery.com), where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.