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.
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 :)
Sugar Cookie Cherry Cobbler
For the filling:
- 3 pounds frozen cherries
- 1/2 cup sugar or to taste, see notes
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- generous squeeze of lemon or lime juice
- 1/8 teaspoon almond extract optional
For the cookie:
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- Coarse sugar for sprinkling on top if desired (I use Sugar in the Raw)
Make the cherry filling. Place frozen cherries into a large sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until cherries have thawed and released their juices. Stir occasionally. This will take about 15 minutes.
Allow cherries to simmer for another five minutes to allow juices to reduce slightly.
Taste cherries and add sugar to taste. See recipe notes.
In a small bowl whisk cornstarch with enough cherry juice from the pan to dissolve it.
Add the cornstarch mixture back to the pan and stir. Continue to simmer over medium low heat until thickened into a syrup. Stir in almond extract, if desired.
Pour cherry filling into a 13 x 9" baking dish. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Make the cookie dough. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Beat softened butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
Add almond extract, vanilla extract and egg and continue beating until fully combined.
Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until combined.
Roll cookie dough between two pieces of plastic wrap or parchment to a little thicker than 1/4". Store in refrigerator while filling cools and to help the cookie dough firm up.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Once the filling is cool, remove dough from the refrigerator and cut desired shapes, gathering scraps and re-rolling as necessary. Place them as desired over the filling. You should have enough dough to cover most of the filling. If you don't want to roll and cut, see notes for alternate option.
Sprinkle raw sugar evenly over the top. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until filling is bubbly and top is golden.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
*You can adjust sweetness with your cherry filling. I used 1/2 cup in this recipe, but you can start with 1/4 cup and then add as necessary. Cherries will vary in sweetness, so always taste first. You can also either eliminate or reduce the sugar topping. I like the texture it adds, but I might use a little less next time.
*If you want a thicker filling, add more cornstarch when cooking the cherries. One Tablespoon worked perfectly for me. That amount resulted in just a little extra syrup in the pan to help top the ice cream :)
*I didn't measure how much 3 pounds of cherries was...I would estimate it was about 8 cups. You don't have to have that exact amount. Use what fills your baking dish and sweeten and thicken to taste.
*Yes, you can absolutely use fresh cherries. Since you're cooking them first, you can still adjust sweetness and thickening as desired.
*If you don't like the taste of almonds, you can eliminate the almond extract from the cherries and use only vanilla extract in your cookies.
*If you don't want to spend the time rolling and cutting your dough into shapes, simply take spoonfuls of dough and flatten between your hands before placing on top of the filling. You can layer them however you choose. No fancy design necessary :)
*If you want a bigger ratio of fruit to topping, bake in a smaller but deeper baking dish. You may have cookie dough left over. You can bake that off as regular sugar cookies separately.
*Love sugar cookies, but crave a biscuit topping? Make this cherry filling then use the biscuit topping from Georgia Peach Cobbler :)
*You can store covered at room temperature. I chose to cover mine and store it in the refrigerator, reheating individual servings for those who wanted to eat their cobbler warm.
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