Cobbler & Company – Six Desserts Using Fall Fruits

Berries are a thing of the past, but now is the time to capitalize on all those beautiful autumn fruits. We have 6 desserts to add to your menu this season that will showcase them.

Crisps, cobblers, betties, pandowdys, slumps, grunts, and sonkers. Of all these homespun desserts it’s hard to pick a favorite. Each a variation on the same theme, they are the hallmarks of early American baking. As much as we like to be definitive these old-fashioned desserts are “folk-food” passed down orally from mother to child and like all folk culture slight variations arise from kitchen to kitchen. They are at their most basic a “warm fruit dessert” perfect for an evening when there isn’t much on hand.

Homemade desserts like crisps and brown bettys are wonderful in that they are simple and un-fussy, therein lies their innate appeal. They touch something deep and nostalgic inside each of us and this primal attraction should not be heightened or refined past the point of recognition. They should be presented to your customers just as they are: a delicious, simple exploration of nature’s finest offerings.

Autumn Spice Pear Cobbler

When autumn hits, all things turn to pumpkin spice, to fly in the face of this trend we decided to opt for something a little different this season with the Autumn Spice Pear Cobbler. A delicious blend of autumnal pears and warming spices all covered by a blanket of those lovely cobble-stone biscuits.

Apple Pandowdy

This recipe for Apple Pandowdy dates back to the 19th century, featuring apples, both sweetened and spiced, hidden beneath a flaky pastry crust. The name pandowdy comes from the idea that the pastry is “dowdied up” over the dessert, or, in modern terms, the pastry is cut into pieces instead of being left whole which makes the appearance look “shabby” or “disheveled.”

Fall Fruit Crisp

This is a great recipe, truthfully for any season as it is tailored to suit any fruit and highlight its best assets. These crisps include a delicious mixture of sugar, spices, oats, and nuts. The Fall Fruit Crisp is a sweet, crunchy accompaniment to the mixture of warm fruits beneath, both fresh and dried.

Cranberry Slump

A cousin to crisps and crumbles the “slump” is most closely related to the cobbler. Cooked on the stovetop, fruit is sweetened softened and topped generously with big pillowy dumplings, coming together in a warm blend of seasonal flavors.

Pear and Dried Cherry Brown Betty

Though the brown betty is traditionally made with apples we’ve reinvented it this season choosing the oft’ forgotten flavor profile of the pear. Combining it with almonds and dried cherries gives us a wonderful dessert full of varying flavors and textures. Truly a better betty.

Sweet Potato Sonker

Sounding more like something from a Dr. Seuss book the “sonker” is actually one of our favorite home-spun desserts. Some assert that a traditional sonker is made with a cake-like batter while others insist it is more akin to a pie and should have a top crust, a bottom crust, or both. Though many disagree as to what a true sonker is, all come together in harmony on one vital element the milk dip: a sweetened milk syrup that is poured on top and baked into a glaze. For this recipe instead of fruit we’re turning to another traditional autumn-time food: the sweet potato. Reminiscent of the pumpkin when similar spices are added, it is arguably better as it offers a flavor that is both fuller and sweeter than any pumpkins.

There we have it, our favorite flavors of fall baked into their most familiar forms. This shortlist barely scratches the surface; there is no end to the strangely monikered desserts that will further highlight your seasonal produce. Don’t be afraid to dig deeper, and remember: no matter the name, no matter your version, a scoop of ice cream on top is never a bad thing.


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Hannah Abaffy

Pastry Chef & Recipe Development

Hannah Abaffy is a pastry chef and an active member of the culinary community. From working in kitchens to developing recipes, and creating menus for restaurants, she has been involved with food in one capacity or another for the past decade. After starting a food history blog, Hannah has been continuously writing and learning about the ever-changing realm of cuisine, its history, and its future. Since then her appetite to learn about and share all things that touch upon the world of food can only be described as voracious.

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