Saturday, March 3, 2012

Super Simple Cherry Cobbler

I know, I know.  Weeks without a blog entry, and when I return to blogging it’s with another recipe for dessert.  I can only say that my work life has exploded in the last two weeks and, combined with the cold that’s been making its rounds at our house, blogging was pushed to the bottom of the priority list.  But no more!  Another produce adventure is in the works.  For now, though, let’s celebrate the triumphant return of the Foodie with a really easy recipe that will make the after-dinner hour special:  this Super Simple Cherry Cobbler.

Let me say right up front that I am not a fan of canned cherry pie filling.  It’s too sweet, too gloopy, too artificially-glowing-red.  This recipe calls for either fresh or frozen (and thawed) cherries.  Frozen cherries come with the pits removed, which is (partially) where the Super Simple portion of the title comes in.  If you want to use fresh cherries–which won’t be in season for awhile, but might still be available at your local grocery store–I highly recommend using this Oxo Cherry Pitter to make that job easier.  I love my cherry pitter, and I use it often during cherry season.  But when it comes to Super Simple baking, I take it to another level and go with the frozen cherries.

The second part of this Super Simple recipe is the use of a packaged cake mix.  Especially since I started eating gluten-free, I’ve relied on packaged mixes to make my life a little easier.  Baking gluten-free from scratch can be tricky, and while I’m gradually learning the things I need to know, there are times when I’m not in the mood to roll the dice.  Sometimes, I just want the assurance of knowing that what I’m making is more than likely to turn out.  When you have a cold, and you’re losing your mind at work every day, you find yourself in the midst of one of those times.  So I used a gluten-free vanilla cake mix, but you could just as easily use any cake mix you have on hand.

One thing to note:  when you add the melted butter to the cake mix, you will end up with a crumbly topping–nothing like cake batter.  If you’re of the opinion that cobbler should be more like upside-down cake, you probably won’t be happy with the result provided by this recipe.  On the other hand, if you like cobbler with a crunchy topping, this will make you very happy.

The Hubs has been happily snacking on this cobbler for the last few days.  It would be just as Super Simple to make with any combination of fruit and cake mix–I’m thinking an apple cobbler with a spice cake crumble on top would be very tasty.  And if you want to toss a half-cup of chopped nuts into the crumble topping for a little extra crunch, you’ll get nothing but support from me.

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Super Simple Cherry Cobbler

Ingredients:

1 lb. cherries, pitted (thawed, if frozen)
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
4 T. corn starch
1 T. vanilla
1 vanilla cake mix, dry
1 stick butter, melted

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large saucepan, combine the cherries and water over medium heat. Stir together the sugar and corn starch, then add this mixture to the pan and stir until dissolved. When the cherry mixture starts to bubble, stir constantly for one minute, then remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla. The mixture should be very thick, the consistency of pie filling. (If it's not, let it cook until you get the right consistency.) Transfer the cherry mixture to a baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray. (I use a 9-inch pie plate, but a 9-inch square pan will also work.)

In a large bowl, combine the dry cake mix and the melted butter. Stir until the dry ingredients have been coated with butter and turn into coarse crumbs. (You made need to use your hands for this step--just squeeze together handfuls of the dry ingredients, creating large clumps, and then break them into smaller pieces.) Sprinkle the dry crumb mixture over the cooked fruit.

Bake the cobbler for 35-40 minutes, until the crumb topping is nicely browned and the fruit is beginning to bubble around the edges. Serve warm, with ice cream or whipped cream.

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