Thursday, August 7, 2014

Cherry-Nectarine Cobbler

I’m not sure how it’s possible that this summer is nearly over.  The Girl heads back to her college campus this weekend, for RA training in advance of her residents’ gradual return.  The Boy has gone through Prep Day at his high school, which means he’s all set for his senior year.  And The Hubs and I have already been called back to our respective campuses for meetings; classes start in just few weeks.  All signs point to the fact that The Summer of Travel is coming to a close.

It’s enough to make a Foodie eat her feelings.

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It’s fortunate that I had both cherries and nectarines on hand when I found myself overcome by the urge to make something sweet and comforting.  I love fruit-based desserts–cobbler, crisp, crumble, pie. Whatever you have, I’ll eat it.  With a scoop of vanilla ice cream, thanks.  I love both cherries and nectarines on their own, but combining them leads to something very special, a sweet-tart taste sensation that’s perfect for the bittersweet end of summer.

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Start the cobbler-making process by tossing together fruit, sugar, and your choice of thickener.  I usually prefer tapioca to corn starch or flour–you can see the tapioca pearls in the photos above–because I think it gives the filling a less pasty texture.  As you can also see, I used two types of nectarines (white and yellow) because that’s what I had on hand.  Then I tossed in two cups of pitted cherries.  If you have peaches instead of nectarines, or more cherries and fewer nectarines, that’s fine.  Cobbler is a very forgiving dessert.  (Just be sure to peel your peaches before you cut them up–one of the reasons I prefer nectarines to peaches is that you can eat them skin and all.)  You’ll need about 5 cups of chopped fruit, in whatever combination you come up with.

The topping created by this recipe is a little more custardy than what you’ll find in most cobblers.  As I’ve mentioned before, there are many opinions about what a cobbler topping should be.  This is most definitely a Group 3 cobbler, but the cakey topping is very, very soft.  In fact, I think it’s closer to bread pudding than cake.  I really love that texture in this cobbler, as does the rest of the Foodie family, but if it’s not your cup of tea, there’s no law against combining these fruits with something a little more firm–for instance, the topping I use when I make Blackberry Cobbler.  I used a gluten-free flour blend (Namaste Foods’ Perfect Flour Blend) which includes xanthan gum, but regular AP wheat flour will work just as well.  If you use a gluten-free blend without xanthan gum, add half a teaspoon to the dry ingredients listed below.

Give this cobbler 10 or 15 minutes to cool once you take it out of the oven, because the fruit filling will be way too hot to eat anytime sooner–and it will melt the vanilla ice cream that is, as far as I’m concerned, a required part of the cobbler experience.

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Cherry-Nectarine Cobbler

Ingredients:

3 cups nectarines, sliced or chopped
2 cups cherries, pitted
1/2 cup sugar
3 T. minute tapioca
1 tsp. almond extract
1/2 cup gluten-free flour blend (or AP wheat flour)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
4 T. (half a stick) butter, in small pieces
1 egg, beaten

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 9-inch deep dish pie pan (or a 9-inch square pan) with non-stick spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the nectarines, cherries, sugar, tapioca, and almond extract. Toss to coat the fruit with sugar and tapioca. Let this mixture sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes, so the tapioca has time to soften.

While the tapioca softens, measure the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder into a medium bowl. Stir to combine the dry ingredients. Add the butter and toss to coat the pieces with flour. Then use a pastry cutter (or two sharp knives) to cut the butter into the dry ingredients, until the butter is in pea-size crumbs and the mixture looks sandy. Gently stir in the egg, just until the dry ingredients are moist.

Turn the fruit into the prepared baking dish. Use a spoon to distribute dollops of cake batter over the fruit. If you like, sprinkle the top of the batter with sugar, to create a crunchy surface as it bakes. It's always a good idea to set your baking dish on top of a cookie sheet, when you're making fruit-based desserts, to catch any drips of fruit filling that might make it over the edge and burn on the bottom of the oven.

Bake the cobbler for 50 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling.

 

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