Sweet Cherry Cobbler
Summer, for me anyway, always brings thoughts of summer fruit. I buy apples, oranges, bananas and grapes all year long, but cherries can only be had at my local grocery store during the summer. It's just as well, because although I love fresh cherries, I hate pitting them. I probably wouldn't buy them very often even if they could be had all year round.
Last week I bought a bag of fresh cherries. We had some with ice cream the first day, and I had some on my cereal the next morning. I was staying with my parents and grandfather, and though they happily ate the cherries I pitted, no one else was eating the cherries unless I served them. Cherries are a fragile fruit and don't keep for very long--if any of them are bruised they are likely to get moldy, and mold spreads quickly. So by the third day of the cherries sitting in the fridge, less than half of them eaten, I began to get worried and decided to take drastic action--time to bake!
I made the following cobbler, and it turned out so well that I decided to make it again today (fortunately, we in Los Angeles have something called "June Gloom," meaning that it is cloudy and cool for most of the day for a good portion of the summer--perfect for summer baking).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
1-1 1/2 lbs fresh sweet cherries (I used Bing cherries), pitted
4 tablespoons of sugar (or your preferred sweetener, to taste)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon orange pips or 1 teaspoon orange juice
2 teaspoons brandy (grand marnier or rum would also work)
Mix all ingredients in a bowl until the cherries all appear to have a bit of the liquid and spices on them. You can use more sugar if you like it sweeter, but cherries are naturally fairly sweet and I prefer to let the fruit speak for itself. A lot of people will pour a mixture of cornstarch and water over the fruit in a cobbler, so that the fruit juice thickens into a nice sauce, and I sometimes do this. It wasn't necessary for the cherries though--they were fine on their own.
Coat the inside of a medium-sized shallow baking dish with butter. Yes, use butter; unless you have a serious health problem that precludes it, life is too short to use Pam Spray or shortening or whatever in your baking. It doesn't taste the same.
Pour the cherry mixture into the buttered baking dish.
I am lazy, and do not like to make cobbler topping from scratch if I don't have to. I generally use some kind of pancake or general baking mix. For this one I used Bisquick. You can substitute any baking mix you think will work.
1 1/2 cups Bisquick
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon orange juice
Some milk--I didn't actually measure it (yay for intuitive cooks, huh?). Slowly alternate adding milk and stirring until the mixture is slightly on the runny side but doesn't immediately drip off the spoon. It should be about the consistency of pancake or waffle batter--runnier than biscuit dough, but thick enough not to run down into the filling too much.
Stir in a bowl until all ingredients are blended. It might be slightly lumpy--this is ok. Pour the contents into the baking dish on top of the cherry mixture. Don't worry if a few cherries stick up through the topping, or if the topping doesn't quite cover the cherries around the edge of the baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees F for about 40 minutes, or until the topping is cooked through and slightly brown on top. Serves 8.