Quick Individual Cherry Cobbler

So I’m a sucker for cravings. Once I get something in my mind that’s it- I won’t rest until I’ve tasted it. That was that was the case with this cherry cobbler. Sure it’s a cheat’s version- using canned pin filling. But I craved it and the quicker I got it the better. Also lets face it- using canned filling cuts down on the stove-time involved in the making off this. If you feel so inclined, go right ahead with your favorite mix of cherries that you might use for your fillings. I’m definitely not one to dictate how you should run your kitchen.

The topping here is an adaption of a regular biscuit dough that I use to biscuit top stews and casseroles. Here I’ve slightly upped the sugar for a sweeter finish, adding in some cinnamon and oats for a more rustic dessert finish.

I love the flavor combination of cherries and almonds, thinking that it’s one of the best out there. Food trivia moment- both are linked by the compound Benzaldehyde, which is the second most popular flavor and fragrance after vanillin. Baking- educational too! (Darn! now I’m thinking I need to make a Cherry Bakewell…curse you infernal cravings!

With the use of pie filling these are so quick and easy that even making them in the current warmer weather can be justified. Plus adding a scoop of your favorite ice cream on top even more so!

Makes 4

Ingredients

  • 1 can 540ml (20 oz) cherry pie filling
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 cup toasted, flaked almonds
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Jumbo rolled oats
  • 3 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 Tablespoon Turbinado sugar

Method

  1. Butter four 0.25L ramekins
  2. In a bowl mix the pie filling and the almond extract. Divide the pie filling equally among the ramekins
  3. Sprinkle the tops of the pie filling with the toasted almond flakes. Set them aside on a foil-lined baking sheet until later
  4. Preheat oven to 375 F
  5. In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, ground cinnamon and salt. Whisk to combine
  6. Add the melted butter and milk, stirring just until moistened. The biscuit batter will be quite thick and lumpy. Drop batter by heaping scoopfuls onto the filling
  7. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar over the biscuit dough
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until biscuits are browned and filling is hot and bubbly
  9. Leave to cool for about 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Amaretto Coconut Macaroons

It’s National Macaroon Day! So let’s celebrate these li’l nuggets of sweet coconutty goodness in all their chewy, toasty glory! These are fantastic treats which can have a universal appeal since they are in effect gluten-free. Any leavening required is done via the addition of whipped egg whites.

Speaking of additions in this recipe I’ve included a gentle tipple of almond liqueur in a reference to the cookies almond based begins. I also find that the combination of coconut and almond works really well. Think of these as a pimped up version of the fondly loved Almond Joy or Bounty bars for the grown-ups!

Don’t get me wrong – these also taste great without the addition of the alcohol. The added benefit being you can get the kids involved in the making of and then reward them for their efforts. It’s smiles all round!

Amaretto Coconut Macaroons #recipe

Makes average 21

Ingredients

  • 4 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 can (300ml) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons almond liqueur
  • 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

To Finish

  • Whole almonds, blanched and toasted
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, melted

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F
  2. Combine the coconut, condensed milk, vanilla and almond liqueur a large bowl. Mix well
  3. Whip the egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until they make medium-firm peaks
  4. Carefully fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture
  5. Drop the batter onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper using either a 1 3/4-inch cookie scoop, or 2 teaspoons
  6. Press an almond into the top of each macaroon mound
  7. Bake for 25, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on tray for 5 minutes before peeling to remove. Place on a rack and leave to cool fully
  8. When fully cooled dip the base of each macaroon into the melted chocolate. Leave to set, upside down (chocolate side up) on a cooling rack

Blueberry & Almond Maple Fudge

Think of this as a pimped up Fruit & Nut bar. For me the recipe brings to mind a stroll through the woods and spying all the wild bounty. In fact, if I were anyone else, a foraging trip. Crunchy toasted almonds give a wonderful textural contrast to the smooth, creamy fudge studded with blueberry flavor. Being dried their flavor is that little bit more concentrated and works really well to provide pops of berry to counter the fudge becoming too cloying. As for the maple syrup? Well, IMO everything tastes better with maple syrup!

By the way- a date for your diary? May 12th is Nutty Fudge Day. There you have it- a perfect reason to try this recipe!

Blueberry & Almond Maple Fudge #recipe

Makes 24 pieces

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups good quality maple syrup
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • ¼ cup salted butter, cut into pieces
  • ¼ cup dried blueberries
  • ¼ cup whole almonds, toasted

Method

  1. Line the bottom and sides of a 8″x 8″ x (at least) 2″ deep pan with baking parchment, leaving about 2” overhang on both the long sides
  2. In a large, heavy saucepan bring the maple syrup to a boil over medium heat; simmer for 5 minutes, making sure to keep a very close watch as the syrup can rise quite a lot as it boils. If it starts to rise, lift the pan off the heat for a few seconds to allow the syrup to drop
  3. After 5 minutes, pour in the evaporated milk and without stirring (but you can swirl the pan) bring the mixture back to the boil, be careful in case it bubbles and rises again, and let it simmer until it reaches 236°F (Soft Ball stage) on a candy thermometer. This usually takes about 20 minutes. It may be tempting to walk away but DON’T!
  4. As soon as the mixture reaches that temperature, carefully remove the pan from the heat. Add the butter pieces to the pot but do not stir it in. Let the mixture cool for about 6 minutes
  5. Carefully transfer the mixture a stand mixture bowl, scraping using heat-proof spatula and using the paddle attachment beat for about 6-7 minutes on high speed, until the sugar mixture gets thicker and lighter in color. It may look like it has crystalized, or separated, but beat on nonetheless
  6. After the mixing time has passed fold in the dried blueberries and almonds
  7. Transfer the fudge to the prepared pan, spreading to the edges. You may need to work quickly here as the fudge will start to the firm up
  8.  Transfer to the fridge until completely set, about 2 to 3 hours
  9. Lift the fudge from the pan and cut into squares with a sharp knife. Dipping the knife into hot water and wiping dry between cuts helps to get smooth, clean cuts. The number of pieces will depend on the size of your cuts. I usually get 21-24 pieces
  10. Store in a cool dry place in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Best served at room temperature

Pear & Almond Skillet Cake

img_8208

Almonds are a favorite of mine, no matter what the form. Whether it’s the sweet grainy Niederegger of Lubeck; soft indulgent amaretti of Italy or the crisp, salt sprinkled Grecian bar treats- I’m in. I get they can be divisive. Not everyone can take to the vaguely chemical woodiness of the nuts but whatever the form I remain a fan.

The lure of the almond nut has been such throughout time that people have even braved the  high levels of  hydrocyanic acid (HCN) of the wild, bitter almond to partake of it. Eating 50, or less, of the wild nut could potentially kill an adult with cyanide poisoning. Yet such was the allure of the nut that there are recipes from as far back as the 4th century as to how to neutralize the nutty nastiness within. St. Basil’s Hexaemeron, a Christian text from around the fourth century, contains the following guidance:

“Pierce an almond tree in the trunk near its roots, stick a fat plug of pine into its center and its almond seeds will undergo a remarkable change.”

It would seem that the introduction of a foreign botanical sample triggers a metabolic reaction which neutralizes the trees natural HCN production. I can’t testify to the effectiveness of this trick so in the words of all good PBS science programs- please don’t try this at home. But fear not folks,  thanks to a genetic mutation thousands of years ago, modern domesticated sweet almonds are delicious and safe to eat. Unless consumed in massive quantities wherein constipation; Vitamin E overdose and weight gain (to name a few) might result. Everything in moderation as they say! Enough serious talk- you came here to bake (or accidentally got redirected here whilst researching Michael Keaton’s back catalogue).

In my view almonds and pears are one of those quintessentially ideal pairings for baking with. Maybe it’s because they both conjure up images of lush, bacchanal orchard woodlands in my head? Or maybe it’s some other more exacting culinary scientific reasoning unbeknownst to me. As it is, this time of year with bumper pear crops just begs for some autumnal-tinged goods to be baked in the kitchen. I love this recipe as it’s very  much a no-fuss, rustic as you come affair. Cooking it in a skillet means no tin, springform or otherwise, to faff around with and presentation is as easy as pie (or should that be “cake” here? If you’re serving it warm why not go the whole way and slide a dollop of ice cream next to it on the plate? I can whole-heartedly recommend a French vanilla morphing into ribbons of silky, creaminess aside the fragrant cake.

I will hold my hands up and admit this – I also use the simple icing sugar dusting to hide the lack of my Instagram worthy pear pinwheel finish to the top of the cake. Of all the times I’ve made this cake I’ve only maneged the fluke of getting the pears to bake atop the surface twice. More often than not the pears sink that little bit and the batter rises that little bit so the pear slices get engulfed in the finish cake with morsels subtly peaking out here and there. Not that this is a bad thing I suppose? It could be argued that this adds an extra layer of interest with unexpected bites of fruitness throughout the cake. My point is don’t beat yourself up too much about not having the “pear wheel” on top or how it looks- this will taste seriously good anyway!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup and 2 Tbspns (separated) salted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups fine sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1/4 tspn kosher salt
  • 1 Tbspn ground ginger
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 medium Bosc pears, cored and sliced into 8 vertically
  • Icing sugar, to dust

bc40b2ec-f5bb-4808-86ba-b3573818a3d3

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, and place a 10″ cast iron skillet in to heat through
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until pale and fluffy, I usually do it for 6- 8 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl halfway through
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition
  4. In a small separate bowl, whisk together ground almonds, flour, salt and ground ginger. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture in thirds, alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition
  5. Beat in both the extracts until combined. Set mixture aside for now
  6. Carefully remove the hot skillet from oven and melt the 2 Tbspns butter on it, swirling to coat the bottom and sides
  7. Spoon batter into the heated, greased skillet and lightly spread to an even layer.
  8. Arrange pear slices in a pinwheel fashion over the top of the batter
  9. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.
  10. Remove and let the pan cool in pan for 10 minutes. Dust with icing sugar, and serve warm
  11. The finished cake can be sliced and stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days

1cdc2851-b059-4937-8c0c-beafdc4f0e18