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Sweet-Tart Rhubarb Cobbler

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New York Times

Juicy and soft on the bottom, with golden rounds on top, cobblers are exactly what to make when you are craving something cozy and maybe even a little sloppy in the best possible way.

Most cobblers call for some kind of starch to be mixed into the filling so it thickens as it bubbles and bakes. This one is different. Instead of using starch to thicken the juices, I roast slices of rhubarb with sugar before the rounds of biscuit dough are added to the pan. This extra step allows the juices to condense into a sweet-tart syrup without any of the stodgy flavors and cloudiness you’d get from a starch.

I also like to add some vanilla bean and orange zest to the filling to help mellow the rhubarb’s strident nature.

All cobblers are best served on the day they are baked, preferably warm from the oven and smothered in heavy cream or ice cream.

Roasted Rhubarb Cobbler

For the Rhubarb Filling:

  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (or use 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract)
  • 2 pounds rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 7 cups)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • Pinch of kosher salt

For the Biscuit Topping:

  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream, plus more for serving, if you like
  • Demerara sugar, for sprinkling
  • Ice cream, for serving (optional)

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Scrape the pulp out of vanilla bean halves and add the pulp to a 1 1/2 quart gratin or baking dish or 9-by-9-inch pan along with the scraped-out pods. Add rhubarb, sugar, zest and salt; toss well. Let sit at room temperature to macerate while preparing the biscuit dough.

Make the biscuit dough: Put flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add cubed butter, then pulse until the mixture has formed bean-size pieces. Drizzle in 1/3 cup heavy cream and pulse until everything clumps together; do not overprocess.

(To make dough by hand, put the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add cubed butter, then mix it in with your hands, pinching and squeezing with your fingers — or use a pastry blender — until the largest pieces are the size of peas. Drizzle in 1/3 cup heavy cream a little at a time, mixing until the dough comes together.)

Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and gently pat it together until it’s a cohesive lump. Using a large spoon, form dough into 6 evenly sized balls. Slightly flatten dough balls into thick rounds. Cover rounds with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes (and up to 6 hours).

Put the rhubarb in the oven and roast, stirring halfway through, until the rhubarb has softened and the liquid has formed a syrup, about 30 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and use tongs to remove the vanilla bean pods. Lower oven temperature to 375 degrees. Arrange biscuit rounds on top of the rhubarb, leaving space in between them. Brush biscuits with remaining tablespoon of heavy cream and sprinkle with Demerara sugar.

Bake cobbler until biscuits are golden brown, about 25-35 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Total time: 1 1/2 hours; serves 6-8.

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