I’m going to go all Southern on you again with this delicious, old-fashioned, homey dessert perfect for the autumn table. I’m not, however, going to get into a discussion on what exactly a cobbler is – biscuit top, crumble top, pastry top, whatever. This is how I make cobbler, and that’s good enough for me.
But really, is there any more comforting dessert than a cobbler, no matter how you define it? Gooey, sweet filling, nice warm topping, all bubbling goodness. This is a dish I had only had at soul food restaurants, and usually as an occasional special, so I had to figure out how to make my own version to be available at any time. The underappreciated sweet potato does not get enough play outside Thanksgiving, pie and the occasional fry, and that’s a shame, because they are incredibly versatile and healthy, though admittedly not so much when simmered in a sweet syrup and covered in spiced, cakey topping. In fact, my exposure to sweet potatoes for most of my life was limited to Thanksgiving, and those often came with marshmallows on top – and I am not a fan of that version of sweet potato casserole. But once discovered, sweet potatoes, like so many other things, opened up a world of possibilities and find their way into my kitchen all year. One of my favorite farmers market vendors sells gorgeous sweet potatoes that I can never resist.
If you over buy on the sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving, this is a great way to use them up, but I am telling you, make this just ‘cause. Just ‘cause it’s good.
Sweet Potato Cobbler
I like this just fine all on its own, but like most cobblers, ice cream or whipped cream are a welcome addition. If you are of a mind to, you could add a couple of Tablespoons of bourbon to the potatoes while they cook.
For the Sweet Potatoes
1 ½ pounds sweet potatoes (2 – 3 medium)
½ cup (1 stick) butter
2/3 cup white sugar
¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 Tablespoons heavy cream
For the Cobbler:
1 cup flour
1 cup white sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¾ cups milk
For the Potatoes: Peel the potatoes and remove any eyes or brown spots. With a strong knife, carefully cut the potatoes into cubes, roughly ½ inch square. Try to get them relatively close in size, but a few smaller pieces are fine.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, then stir in the white and brown sugars and cream. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture has come together. Drop in the potato cubes, then bring the mixture back up to a nice bubble. Cover and cook for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are very soft. You should be able to squash the potatoes with the back of a spoon. Mash some of the potatoes slightly, then scrape the mixture into an 8 by 8 inch baking dish. (You can mash the potatoes as much as you like, but I find that the contrast of textures of some mashed and some chunks delicious). Leave to cool slightly. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
For the Cobbler:
In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices together with a fork. Add the milk and stir quickly until blended, making sure there are no bits of flour showing. Spoon over the potatoes in the pan and spread out to the edges. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until the cobbler is puffed and light brown, the potatoes are bubbling and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
Serves 6 – 8