I’ve hardly done any cooking or baking this year. Having recently returned from a fabulous 11 day cruise in the east Caribbean, most of the first week of January was spent eating holiday leftovers and cleaning out the fridge and pantry. By the time we got back, it was already the end of January, and I had hardly used my stove in the new year! The first thing I wanted to do when we got back from vacation was to cook and bake. Even though we ate a lot, and relaxed a lot, things just aren’t the same as when you’re at home. So, although we still need to shed a few post-cruise pounds from all of the fabulous food we ate, I still felt the urge to whip up a homemade dessert for our first weekend meal back at home.
I’ve learned over the years that diets don’t work, deprivation leads to failure, and what’s right for me may not be right for anybody else, and that’s ok. It took countless unsuccessful attempts to lose weight, but I’ve finally found what works for me. And, luckily, it’s what all of my family doctors have been advocating all along…eat a balanced diet, cover all food groups, don’t eliminate any food group (except junk food), and everything in moderation. Get lots of sleep, exercise, and drink lots of water. Sounds simple, right? Well, it turns out that it is. I have no problems losing weight while still enjoying dessert so long as I limit my portion size, and stick to healthy foods most of the time. So, although I have a few pounds to shed, I’m not going to get there by eating only salad, eliminating all carbs and dairy, and saying no to a weekend glass of wine. Sure, it may take me a bit longer to lose the weight, but lose it I shall, and the journey will be much more pleasurable if I choose a path of healthy eating with a few small treats versus limitations and exclusions.
For our first weekend meal back home, I chose this dessert recipe for a skillet cherry cobbler from The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen. We all know that their recipes work, and what I love about these books is that they explain why it works at the start of each recipe. What I like about this book is being able to create really good meals in smaller sizes. I love beef stew, but if there are only two of us eating it, we would be stuck eating it all week long. This book answers the call for those of us who are looking for good food and variety in smaller sizes. The book’s recipes are designed to serve two people, though I found that this recipe made enough dessert for four decent sized portions. Maybe that’s a testament to our scaled down portion sizes. And that’s a good sign for us. Either way, whether the two of you can tackle all of this in one sitting, or have enough for tomorrow night’s dessert, this recipe is just plain good, and easy to make.
Using a skillet to make the cherry sauce saves on clean up, since you just top the fruit with the cobbler mixture and it goes straight into the oven. Using jarred cherries makes it easy to make this year round, and the small amount of cobbler batter allows for a quick cooking of 20 minutes. Quick, tasty, and easy to follow instructions makes this a winner. I had made this recipe a number of years ago when I borrowed the book from my local library. I liked the recipes so much that I bought my own copy on Amazon. Meat and Tater Man hasn’t complained about this book purchase…it’s loaded with great recipes for our small family of 3.
This is the America's Test Kitchen recipe for skillet cherry cobbler, from their book, The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook.
Using a skillet allows you to make the sauce for the cherries on the stove, then place it directly in the oven to bake once the cobbler topping is on.
You can omit the use of red wine - it adds a depth of flavour, but it is not essential to the success of the dish.
If you don't have coarse sugar (turbinado), you can use regular granulated sugar for topping the cobbler batter.
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup buttermilk, chilled
- 2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- pinch salt
- 1 1/3 cups jarred sour cherries in light syrup, drained with 1/4 cup syrup reserved
- 1/4 cup dry red wine
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp turbinado sugar
- For the topping: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400F. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl. In separate bowl, stir chilled buttermilk and melted butter together until butter forms small clumps. Stir buttermilk mixture into flour mixture with rubber spatula until just incorporated. Cover and set aside.
- For the filling: Whisk granulated sugar, cornstarch and salt together in 8 inch oven safe skillet. Whisk in reserved 1/4 cup cherry syrup, wine and vanilla, then add cinnamon stick. Bring mixture to simmer over medium-high heat and cook, whisking frequently, until slightly thickened, 1 to 3 minutes. Off heat, remove cinnamon stick and stir in cherries.
- Using large spoon, scoop and drop 1 inch pieces of dough, spaced about 1/2 inch apart, over cherry filling, then sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake until biscuits are golden brown and filling is thick and glossy, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Let cobbler cool in skillet on wire rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.