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Sweet cherries star in cast iron skillet cobblers

At the height of their season

Posted: July 29, 2014 - 2:38pm  |  Updated: July 30, 2014 - 8:10am

I’ve used the same basic batter recipe for making cobblers for years. It has never failed me and adapts well to a wide variety of summer fruits, including fresh sweet cherries. I’ve made summer cobblers with a combination of fruits, such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and cherries, but more often than not, I do single-fruit cobblers, like the ones here for cherry cobbler. I like to throw a cobbler into the oven the same time we are sitting down to supper, because by the time the table is cleared and the dishes are done, the cobbler is ready – all hot and bubbly and baked to a deep golden brown. Old-fashioned desserts, like cobblers, look particularly homey served from a cast iron skillet, inviting family and friends to linger longer at the dessert table. And, because cast iron retains heat for a greater length of time than other cooking materials, your cobbler will stay warm well after it has been removed from the oven. Laid-back cobblers are scrumptious accompanied with good vanilla ice cream, and if you have access to an ice cream maker, there’s nothing quite like the taste of homemade. The recipe highlighted for No-Cook Intensely Vanilla Ice Cream, my favorite “go to” recipe for homemade vanilla ice cream, produces an ice cream with a velvety texture and a deeply pleasing vanilla flavor. Paired with fresh cherry cobbler, the duo may be among the best tastes of summer we’ve enjoyed so far.

Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at kitchenade@yahoo.com.

Cast Iron Skillet Fresh Cherries Jubilee Cobbler

For the cherries

1 pound sweet cherries, rinsed, stems removed and pitted

½ cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/3 cup water

1 tablespoon cherry brandy (Kirshwasser), optional

½ cup cherry preserves

For the batter

½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup self-rising flour

1 cup milk

For the topping

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Vanilla ice cream for serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 10-inch cast iron skillet.* For the cherries, mix cherries with sugar in a medium saucepan. In a medium mixing bowl, blend cornstarch with water and brandy, mixing until smooth. Stir preserves into cornstarch mixture. Add cornstarch/preserves mixture to the saucepan with cherries. Over medium heat, cook until cherries are heated through and sauce is bubbly and thick. Remove pan from heat and set aside. To make the batter, whisk together the melted butter and sugar; whisk in flour, then milk whisking until no lumps remain. Pour the batter into the prepared skillet. Spoon large dollops of the cherry mixture randomly over batter, leaving some space between the spoonfuls. Do not stir. Sprinkle top with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until fruit bubbles and the crust is golden brown. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Makes 8 servings.

Cobbler may also be made in 3 to 4 mini skillets (depending on the size of the skillet), by evenly dividing the batter, then the cherries among the skillets. (Do not fill the small skillets more than a scant two-thirds full of batter to prevent overflow.) Bake time remains the same as the 10-inch skilet. Each mini skillet makes 2 servings.

Cast Iron Skillet Fresh Cherry Cobbler

For the cherries

1½ pounds fresh cherries, rinsed, stemmed and pitted

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

For the batter

½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup self-rising flour

1 cup milk

½ teaspoon almond extract

For the topping

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Vanilla ice cream for serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Place cherries in a mixing bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons sugar; set aside. For the batter, whisk together the melted butter and sugar; whisk in flour, adding milk and extract, whisking until no lumps remain. Pour cherries into the prepared skillet. Slowly pour the milk mixture on top of the cherries, then sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Do not stir. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to rest for 5 minutes, then serve with vanilla ice cream. Makes 8 servings.

No-Cook Intensely Vanilla Ice Cream

(Makes 1 1/2 quarts)

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 small (5-ounce) can evaporated milk

4 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons pure vanilla extract (or more to taste)

1½ teaspoons vanilla bean paste, or seeds from 1 vanilla pod*

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup milk

 

Whisk all ingredients in a 2-quart pitcher until well blended. Cover and chill for several hours, or overnight. Pour mixture into the canister of an ice-cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. Spoon mixture into a freezer-safe container and freeze for 4 hours, or until desired firmness is reached. This ice cream does not get icy and will remain easy to scoop even after sitting overnight in the freezer. Makes about 1½ quarts. *Kitchen Ade note: If using a vanilla bean pod, snip tip of pod, then slice down the middle. Open pod and with the back of a knife, scrape seeds into milk mixture. (Do not discard the pod. Use it for making vanilla sugar: Rinse the split pod and cut into 1-inch pieces; allow it to dry completely. Once the pieces are dry, bury them in 2 cups granulated sugar in a jar with a lid. Close jar tightly and allow vanilla to permeate sugar for two weeks, before using. Replace vanilla pod after several months, or until fragrance begins to dissipates. Sugar may be used in beverages or in recipes for sauces, cakes, cookies and frostings.)

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