Even though President’s Day was celebrated this past Monday, George Washington’s actual birthday was today, February 22nd.
And as you know, there is the legend of the cherry tree that has endured since 1806. So, in honor of George Washington and that ole’ cherry tree, I present to you, Sugar Cookie Cherry Cobbler.
I cannot tell a lie…cobblers are one of my favorite desserts. Anything that’s warm and sweet and welcomes a scoop of ice cream is right up my alley. I’m generally a fan of biscuit based desserts like Georgia Peach Cobbler and Strawberry Shortcake. I happen to like the balance of the sweet fruit with the just lightly sweetened biscuit.
But I have been obsessed with the idea of a cookie cobbler for quite awhile now. Really, why can’t cookies also work as cobblers? I’ll admit that I’ve also been obsessed with the name, “Sugar Cookie Cherry Cobbler.” I love saying it. In my head, I’m five again and running around saying, “rubber baby buggy bumpers.” That was a fun tongue twister from my childhood.
It’s still winter, though it felt like spring here in the northeast this weekend. We drank up every single bit of it. It was so nice to get out and feel the warm sunshine on our faces. I love the surprise of an unseasonably warm day. I love it even more in the evenings, because there are no mosquitoes or other bugs that want to intrude on my enjoyment.
We walked some gorgeous gardens on Sunday and were surrounded by the perfume of more orchids than I’ve ever seen at one time in my life. It was a lovely day, and the gardens were simply the perfect place to enjoy the warm weather, surrounded by beauty, while getting lots of walking in.
Warm though it may be, it’s not cherry season, so I opted for a large bag of organic frozen cherries for this recipe. I have no issues with using frozen fruit. We keep our freezer stocked all year for smoothies. Frozen fruit is perfect for that use as well as for things like cobbler. For one, you don’t have to worry about fruit going bad while it’s waiting for you to use it. Secondly, my frozen cherries had no pits. That’s one less lengthy prep step. Not everyone likes the job of pitting cherries. >>>me
Now, you can just toss those cherries with some sugar and throw them in the baking pan, but I like a little more control over my filling. I wasn’t sure how much juice the cherries would render and I didn’t want to go overboard on thickening agents. I wanted a juicy filling that wasn’t too wet, but also was not gelatinous. So, I cooked them first.
I let them thaw in a large pot over medium heat until they released their liquid. Then, I let that liquid reduce just a bit and tasted them for sweetness. I added some sugar and a generous squeeze of lemon and let it continue to simmer. Then, I removed some of the liquid to a small bowl, mixed it with one tablespoon of cornstarch and then added it back to the fruit. I let it thicken to a syrup. I decided that was thick enough for me and poured it into a shallow baking dish.
You can use any kind of baking dish that you wish, as long as the fruit fits with room to bubble up without bubbling over. If you want a thicker fruit to topping ratio, use a smaller and deeper dish. You’ll have some cookie dough left over, but you can bake off the extra dough as regular sugar cookies and have them as a separate treat for another time.
I chose a 13 x 9″ dish and used up every bit of cookie dough. As far as the cookie dough, you have choices. I chose to roll it out and cut a bunch of different sized shapes to top my cobbler. I wasn’t sure my topping design would hold up after baking on top of juicy fruit for an extended time, but I was pleased with the result. The cookies generally kept their shape. It didn’t bother me that the fruit juices bubbled up and left purple stains on some of the crust. That’s what cobblers do when you cover them with lots of little cookie shapes.
If you, however, have no desire to roll and cut shapes, you can just scoop out spoonfuls of cookie dough, flatten them between your hands, and layer little “slabs” of the flattened dough over your fruit filling. Those slabs will bake up looking like a cobblestone street, as you might normally see with a traditional cobbler. So, there’s no pressure to make a pretty topping. It’s all going to taste the same. Go pretty or go rustic.
After I got my design into place, I sprinkled turbinado sugar liberally over the top of the cookie dough. This will add sweetness along with a nice crunchy texture on the top of your cobbler. Now you’re just going to bake it until the cookies are golden and your filling is bubbly.
A word about sweetness…I have started to like less sweet desserts, and while I enjoyed this dessert, especially with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it could have been just a tiny bit less sweet for me. I repeat… that less sweet opinion was solely mine. I think it’s because I’m such a biscuit cobbler girl. My family begged to differ. They thought it was absolutely perfect as is. My husband said that the sweet tartness of the cherries still came through and that he wouldn’t change a thing.
So here’s my advice to you…you know how sweet a sugar cookie is. You have an opportunity to taste your cherry filling to decide how sweet you’d like that. I used sweet cherries. You might have sour cherries. That said, I think the recipe, as written, works very well and I think the majority of people will like the sweetness level as is. I only used 1/2 cup of sugar. Some fruit filling recipes call for a full cup or a cup and a half. I’m sure there are some who might like it much sweeter. For those that want it sweeter, just add more sugar to your filling.
For those who might want less sweetness, reduce how sweet your cherry filling is, knowing that your cookie topping will add more sweetness later. You can also either reduce or eliminate the sugar topping. Next time, I would probably try 1/4 cup of sugar with the cherries and less sugar topping and see if my family notices the drop in sweetness.
That’s the beauty of cooking your cherry filling first. You can taste and adjust before you bake. Did I tell you I like control? ;) Well, cooking your filling first gives you control over both taste and texture. Works for me.
Sugar Cookie Cherry Cobbler was a fun treat this President’s Day weekend. Sweet juicy cherries bake beneath a tender yet crisp cookie crust. Vanilla ice cream is mandatory here and melts over that warm sweet cobbler. You know my perfect bite has to have fruit, crust and melty ice cream…
Yep…Twist your tongue around that :)