Naturally sweet

March 17, 2004|by ANDREA ROWLAND

Step aside, chocoholics, and give fruit fanatics their just dessert - cobbler.

"We think cobblers are the best desserts," said Patti Divelbiss of Hagerstown. "They've always been a favorite in our house."

Cobblers - generally defined as deep-dish fruit pies with dough or crumb toppings - can be made from seasonal fruit fresh from the farm, pulled from the freezer, even poured from a can. Divelbiss likes the dessert's diversity - fresh apple cobbler in the fall; strawberry, peach or blueberry cobbler in summer; frozen mixed berry cobbler in winter - and the natural sweetness of the fruit cuts down on the need for a lot of refined sugar, she said.

For added nutrition, Divelbiss usually substitutes rolled oats for part of the flour called for in many cobbler crumb topping recipes, she said. She uses the versatile topping - made with flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, butter, sliced almonds and nutmeg - on a variety of different fruit fillings.


Marcia Salvatore of Clear Spring dots the top of her family's favorite peach cobbler with butter and sugar. She pours boiling water over the cobbler before baking for a crispy lid to a melt-in-your-mouth meal-ender. Salvatore inherited the peach cobbler recipe from her aunt, Alice Salvatore of Hagerstown, and has passed the simple dish down to her daughter, she said.

The late Luella Trostle's peach cobbler recipe also was in demand among her children and their spouses, daughter Carolyn Carson said.

"Our family loves it," said Waynesboro, Pa., native Carson, who won the blue ribbon for her open-face peach pie in the Leitersburg Peach Festival's 2001 pie contest. "We always fought for the corner piece."

She makes her mother's peach cobbler with one quart of fresh peaches that she's sweetened and canned, but said cobbler cooks can substitute store-bought canned peaches or about five fresh peaches that have been pitted, quartered and boiled with sugar. Sweet cherries also work well in the cobbler, the bottom dough of which bakes up through the fruit, Carson said.

Divelbiss recently substituted frozen raspberries and blueberries for the fresh strawberries called for in her cobbler recipe. She rinsed the ice off the frozen berries, but, to avoid a mushy filling, she did not thaw them completely before baking, she said. Divelbiss also pours about 1/8 cup of water over the fruit topping before baking when she wants a juicier cobbler and eliminates the water when making a thicker dessert, she said.

Many people serve cobbler with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, but the Divelbiss family favors warm cobbler covered in cold milk.

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