January 25, 2012

Apple-Pear Cobbler

There is something about the winter here that makes me want to make things in miniatures. Maybe it is because my fridge is too full of leftovers, tubs of Greek yogurt, milk, and herbs that I just can't fit in another tupperware of cold food that may not get eaten in the near future. My freezer is no help either. Frozen fruit, frozen lunches for emergency days, nuts, and soup fill up every inch of space I have. Besides, who wants to eat leftover dessert? Dessert should be fresh and warm from the oven. Or it should be appropriately chilled and mellowed, like a good custard pie or a cheesecake.

Somebody should really do a study on the anatomy of leftovers: methods of reheating, reusing, and creative restructuring. Ratio of main meals to desserts (at my house it would be like 10:1). Organization and effect on weeknight kitchen creativity. I've gotten into the habit of baking quarter batches of cookies and freezing the rest, making half batches of soup and using the rest for lunches or poured over rice, and freezing chicken mixes to stuff into wheat pita rounds later in the week.

Enter miniature casserole dishes, ramekins, and small bowls. Enter fresh fruit and spices. Enter cleaning your bowl and pie pan. This miniature cobbler is as tasty as they come, with a warm balance of cinnamon and nutmeg and a tasty duet of apple and pear. For two servings, I used one Gala apple and one Bartlett pear, but other combinations may also be used. Raisins or dates would be divine in this mix. Add butter or a splash of cream for a bit of depth and richness, or leave your fruit mixture clear and fruity with the water-spice combination I share below. Sprinkle some nuts, coconut, or candied ginger in the biscuit topping. Use all apples or all pears, peaches, apricots, rhubarb, or nectarines. This little cobbler is a creative project waiting to happen. If you find yourself drowning in a sea of leftovers; if you want a shot of fruity warmth and flaky, biscuity spice; if you have a tiny pan or ramekins, then make this sweet dish.

Scale up for a larger crowd. Future efforts in my kitchen may involve dividing cobbler among ramekins for individual serving sizes.

Apple-Pear Cobbler

Adapted from skinnytaste.com

1 apple, cored, peeled, and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1 pear, cored, peeled, and chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
pinch of salt
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup water

1/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cold butter, cut or grated into small pieces
5 tablespoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon vegetable or canola oil
sprinkle of light brown sugar (scant teaspoon)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Prepare the apple and pear and add the filling ingredients. Toss lightly, then transfer to a heavy saucepan and heat on medium-high until bubbling. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 30-35 minutes, until fruit is soft and syrupy. Pour mixture into small (16 oz) baking dish.

Sift flours, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Add butter and mix with fingers (as if you were preparing biscuits) until all fat is incorporated and texture is like cornmeal. Add buttermilk and oil and mix until just combined. Be careful not to overmix or your topping will be rubbery and dense. The dough should be shiny and sticky, so don't be worried if it seems you haven't mixed enough. You probably have.

Divide dough into two halves and scoop onto the warm apple mixture. Sprinkle brown sugar evenly on biscuits. Bake for 30 minutes, until fruit is bubbling and biscuit tops are brown and crusty.

Let cool at least 20 minutes before serving (1 hour for larger cobblers). Scoop into bowls and serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

This ice cream, by the way, is 1.) homemade 2.) nonfat 3.) no sugar added. I'll explain later.
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