Cherry Cobbler with Cornmeal Biscuits

published Aug 15, 2021
4th of july
Cherry Cobbler Recipe

The secret to the best summer cherry cobbler? Pre-cooking the cherries before topping and baking them with fluffy, buttery biscuits.

Serves6

Prep30 minutes

Cook50 minutes

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a bowl with a single portion of the dessert Cherry Cobbler, with a biscuit crust, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Credit: Shilpa Uskokovic
Cherry Cobbler

What is it about summer produce that makes you want to turn on the oven and bake fruit-filled desserts, despite the heat? Fuzzy, softly yielding peaches. Tiny jeweled berries. Fat cherries shining in the sunlight. All of these urge you to take them home and turn them into baked goods. Besides crisps and crumbles, a cobbler is my favorite fruit dessert to make because it’s so effortless and undemanding. 

In this recipe, fresh sweet cherries are cooked on the stovetop, then topped with pillowy cornmeal-flecked biscuits and baked. A little attention to detail makes all the difference here. Cooking the cherries on the stovetop gives them a head start, helping to break down the fruit into glossy, jammy just-right sweetness. Without this pre-cook, the filling would take so long to fully cook through in the oven that the biscuits would be dry and over-baked before the fruit softened.

The biscuits could not be easier. A bowl and a fork are all you need! Heavy cream is the secret ingredient. Where most recipes call for some combination of butter and milk or buttermilk, heavy cream swiftly and efficiently does the job of both. As a rich liquid, it tenderizes the dough while bringing it together. Baking powder provides all the heft in this recipe, bubbling through and leaving the biscuits light and feathery. 

A bag of cherries and some standard pantry staples are all that’s between you and this warm, delectable cobbler. Ice cream on the side — not optional!

How to Pick the Best Cherries

Look for firm, heavy, shiny cherries. Stems are not always a reliable indicator of freshness. Instead, check the skin to ensure there are no wrinkles or brown spots. Generally, the darker the cherry, the sweeter it will be. Refrigerate cherries immediately after buying or picking, as they will quickly spoil if left outside.

Credit: Shilpa Uskokovic
Cherry Cobbler

Can I Make Cherry Cobbler Ahead of Time?

The biscuit topping and cherry filling can each be made ahead and kept separately. It is best to assemble and bake the cobbler a few hours ahead of serving.

Can I Use Frozen Cherries? 

Frozen cherries are a great (and convenient!) sub for fresh in this recipe. Simply substitute the same weight of cherries. (Don’t worry about the weight difference of pitted versus unpitted.) Some frozen cherries, even those labeled “sweet,” tend to be slightly tarter than their fresh counterparts. Taste one and increase the sugar in the filling by a few tablespoons, if desired. Frozen cherries will also cook through much quicker, as they tend to be smaller and their skin is already broken down from the freezing process. Start checking the filling on the stovetop for doneness about 15 minutes in.

Cherry Cobbler Recipe

The secret to the best summer cherry cobbler? Pre-cooking the cherries before topping and baking them with fluffy, buttery biscuits.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 50 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the biscuit topping:

  • 1 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 2/3 cup

    granulated sugar, divided

  • 1/4 cup

    stone-ground cornmeal

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 3/4 cup

    cold heavy cream

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

For the filling:

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 2 pounds

    fresh (or frozen) sweet cherries

  • 1/3 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1/3 cup

    water

  • 3 tablespoons

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground cinnamon

  • 1

    small lemon

Instructions

  1. Make the biscuit topping: Place 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup of the granulated sugar, 1/4 cup stone-ground cornmeal, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a large bowl and stir with a fork until combined.

  2. Pour in 3/4 cup cold heavy cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and stir with the fork until a thick dough forms and no dry spots of flour are visible.

  3. Place the remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar in a small bowl. Using your hands (or a large spoon or spring-loaded ice cream scoop), divide the dough into 8 pieces. Working quickly but gently, form each portion into a ball (they don’t have to be perfectly round!) and roll in the sugar. Place on a plate and freeze while you make the filling.

  4. Make the filling: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Cut 2 tablespoons unsalted butter into a few pieces.

  5. Stem and pit 2 pounds cherries if needed. Place the butter and cherries in a large skillet (about 4-quart capacity). Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup water, 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Finely grate the zest of 1 small lemon into the skillet, then squeeze the juice of the lemon into the skillet, discarding any seeds. Mix with a large rubber spatula to combine.

  6. Cover the skillet and cook over medium-low heat, removing the lid and stirring at frequent intervals, until the cherries have softened and the liquid is thick, glossy and clinging to the fruit, 20 to 25 minutes (frozen cherries will take15 to 20 minutes). To check if the cherries are ready, push one against the side of the skillet with a spatula. If it crushes easily, it’s well-cooked. If using fresh cherries, stir frequently in the beginning, as there will be little moisture and the mixture may burn if left unattended.

  7. Scrape the cherry filling into an 8x2-inch round cake pan or other 2-quart baking dish and spread into an even layer. Remove the biscuits from the freezer and place on top of the filling, spacing them evenly apart. Place the baking dish on the baking sheet.

  8. Bake until the biscuits are lightly golden-brown and cooked through and the filling is bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

Gluten-free cobbler: To make the cobbler gluten-free, substitute all-purpose flour with a gluten free-flour blend (avoid anything chickpea-based and make sure the mix has xanthan gum).

Storage: The cobbler is best eaten within 24 hours of being baked. It can also be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat in a 350°F oven until warmed through, about 15 minutes.