Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Blackberry-Lavender Cobbler

    The clock sprung forward and Monday night was a promise of a sweet, sweet spring and summer ahead in Denver. The sun was beaming and perfect for an early evening walk. The darkness did not come until later, and the night demanded cheesy grits with greens, a cold beer, and a nice warm cobbler. 
     Granted I had intended to make something completely different for my next post, but when I walked in the store that day and saw these juicy, beautiful blackberries sitting there, I knew it was time for a cobbler instead. 

    The berries are mashed together with ground lavender leafs. The center is a gooey and sweet, but the lavender pushes through a strong floral flavor with the slightest bitter notes. Each bite makes me feel like I am sitting in the middle of a field in the summer with the sun beating down. The filling taste like the most wonderful flavors of the earth and it's abundance. 
      There are many types of cobbler. This one, is what I have so eloquently named "a dumb cobbler" and it is the true type of my heart. The messy filling coupled with the caramelized, cakey surrounding screams sweet simplicity in a skillet. The buttermilk adds the quintessential southern tang; the molasses in the brown sugar creates an eye catching dark color and simultaneously chewy and crunchy texture on the outside that is divinity in cast iron. The inside is soft and comforting as it melds into one where it meets the berries.
    Cobblers are a messy scoop of heaven. I love them hot out of the oven, scooped impatiently and topped with vanilla ice cream that melts down the sides. I love them equally for breakfast, reheated, with milk poured over them (cereal never stood a chance). I had gingerbread to get me through the winter, but now I have this. Welcome back, Spring, how I have missed you.
**Notes: For the lavender you can use a mortar and pestle, a spice grinder, or if you have too, just run a knife through them to mince them for a bit. I use a 10" cast iron skillet for this recipe. If you do not have a cast iron skillet, in step two: instead prepare a 8x8 baking dish or 8-9" cake pan, and melt the butter in the microwave or in a separate sauce pan. 

Inspired by Virginia Willis' "Meme's Blackberry Cobbler" in Bon Appétit, Y'all-this book is a recent, but total obsession of mine!

1/2 C butter (1 stick), unsalted
4 1/2 C fresh blackberries (I used 3, 6 oz. containers)
1 1/2 TSP dried lavender flowers, ground* see notes
1 C all-purpose flour
1 C brown sugar + more for sprinkling 
1 TSP baking soda
3/4 TSP baking powder (at altitude) OR 1 TSP baking powder (sea level)
1 generous pinch fine sea salt
1 C buttermilk
1/2 TSP vanilla extract
1/2 TSP almond extract (or 1/2 more vanilla if you don't have this)

1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
2. Melt your butter in a large cast iron skillet and remove from heat. **See notes. 
3. Add the blackberries and ground lavender to a large bowl and sprinkle with a small amount of sugar. Using a potato masher, forks, or pastry cutter, mash the berries so some of the juices have been released but there is still form in some of them.
4. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Next stir in the brown sugar, breaking up the majority of the clumps before continuing. 
5. Mix in the buttermilk, then the extracts and finally the butter until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter into the cast iron skillet. Add the mashed berry mixture to the center.
6. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Remove and let it cool for 30 minutes before serving. Goes perfectly with ice cream or whipped cream-the lavender begs for one of those! Vanilla is perfect, and if you can find honey flavored I can only imagine it would be heavenly. 

The best part-since it is so PACKED with berries, it makes it really easy to eats huge spoonfuls of it. I love anything sweet I get to huge spoonfuls of! 

Boulder Butter    

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