Beyond cobbler: Quick, easy desserts take advantage of bounty of summer fruit

08/07/2013 7:08 AM

08/07/2013 7:08 AM

In the South, peach cobbler is the go-to dessert of summer.

But with a bounty of berries, plus cool-season imports like rhubarb, it’s easy to spice up the season with some different takes on the rustic pan-baked combo of fresh fruit topped with sweet crust.

Variations on the theme, with nods to regional tastes, include crisps, crumbles and buckles. Lately, French-derived clafoutis has become another popular alternative, making its way onto many restaurant menus.

Crisps and crumbles are close cousins, with recipes calling for toppings made with sugar, butter, flour and often oatmeal sprinkled over fruit and baked until it’s crisp and crumbly.

We went back to a classic “Joy of Cooking” recipe that uses gingersnaps to make rhubarb crisp and added another twist with a bit of candied ginger. The result is a sweet-tart-spicy dessert that begs for a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.

If cobbler is like easy pie, buckle is like easy cake, with fruit folded into a rich batter.

Our Georgia version, baked in a cast iron skillet, has peaches and blueberries in a mixture spiked with Richland Rum and topped with pecan streusel. The caramel flavor and eat-it-with-a-fork texture conjures a fruity blondie.

Far from cobbler, clafoutis is a sweet custard poured over fruit and baked like a tart. For an elegant summertime treat, we used a mix of strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, finished with a sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar.

We also offer a recipe for juicy strawberry ice cream, perfect for pairing with crisps, crumbles and buckles.

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