ATLANTA — In the South, peach cobbler is the go-to dessert of summer.
But with a bounty of berries, plus cool season imports like rhubarb, it's easy to spice up the season with some different takes on the rustic pan-baked combo of fresh fruit topped with sweet crust.
Variations on the theme, with nods to regional tastes, include crisps, crumbles and buckles. Lately, French-derived clafoutis has become another popular alternative, making its way onto many restaurant menus.
Crisps and crumbles are close cousins, with recipes calling for toppings made with sugar, butter, flour and often oatmeal, sprinkled over fruit and baked until it's crisp and crumbly.
We went back to a classic “Joy of Cooking” recipe that uses ginger snaps to make rhubarb crisp, and added another twist with a bit of candied ginger. The result is a sweet-tart-spicy dessert that begs for a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.
If cobbler is like easy pie, buckle is like easy cake, with fruit folded into a rich batter.
Our Georgia version, baked in a cast iron skillet, has peaches and blueberries in a mixture spiked with Richland Rum and topped with pecan streusel. The caramel flavor and eat-it-with a-fork texture conjures a fruity blondie.
Far from cobbler, clafoutis is a sweet custard poured over fruit and baked like a tart. For an elegant summertime treat, we used a mix of strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, finished with a sprinkle of confectioner's sugar.
We also offer a recipe for juicy strawberry ice cream, perfect for pairing with crisps, crumbles and buckles.
Recipe: Mixed berry Clafoutis
Total time: 80 minutes; serves: 8
• 3 eggs • 1/3 cup sugar • 1½ cups heavy cream • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract • ¼ cup flour • 1 cup raspberries • 1 cup blackberries • 1 cup strawberries • Confectioner's sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 325.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, cream and vanilla until frothy. Add the flour and whisk until smooth.
Grease a 6 cup baking dish and arrange the berries in the bottom of the dish. Pour over the egg mixture and bake for 55 minutes until set and golden. Dust with confectioner's sugar to serve.
Notes: Super quick and easy, and a far cry from the average cobbler, this elegant French classic has been gaining popularity, lately. It's essentially sweet custard, poured over fruit and baked until set and puffy, then dusted with confectioner's sugar.
Per serving: 252 calories (percent of calories from fat, 65), 4 grams protein, 18 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 19 grams fat (11 grams saturated), 141 milligrams cholesterol, 43 milligrams sodium.
Recipe: Georgia peach blueberry buckle with Georgia rum and pecans
Total time: 90 minutes, plus 20 minutes for cooling; serves: 8
• ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for skillet
• ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
• 3 large eggs
• 1 tablespoon or more to taste Richland Rum or other sugar cane rum
• 1¼ cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
• ¼ teaspoon baking powder
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1½ pounds peaches, pitted, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces (4 cups)
• 1 cup blueberries
• ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/3 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, 9-inch square baking pan, or 2-quart shallow baking dish. In a large bowl, cream butter and ¾ cup sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add rum and eggs, one at a time, and beat to combine.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat until incorporated to make a batter. Fold in peaches and blueberries. Spread batter in prepared skillet.
In a small bowl, mix together remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon and pecans. Sprinkle mixture over top of batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and topping is golden, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes before serving with whipped cream or ice cream.
Notes: This cake-like buckle has the flavor and texture of a blondie, with fruit folded into the batter, and baked in a cast iron skillet for a crispy crust and gooey center. Georgia pecans and Richland Rum add to the local flavor.
Per serving: 336 calories (percent of calories from fat, 45), 5 grams protein, 41 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 17 grams fat (8 grams saturated), 112 milligrams cholesterol, 181 milligrams sodium.
Recipe: Ginger rhubarb crisp
Total Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes; serves: 8
• 2 lbs. rhubarb stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
• ¼ cup candied ginger, finely chopped
• 2½ cups brown sugar
• 2 cups ginger snaps, such as Anna's, crumbled
• Pinch salt
• 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat oven to 350.
In a medium bowl, toss the rhubarb and candied ginger together, mixing thoroughly. Transfer to a large baking dish. Sprinkle 2 cups of the sugar over rhubarb mixture and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine crumbled ginger snaps, salt and the remaining ½ cup sugar. Using a pastry cutter or two table knives, work butter into the ginger snap mixture until it resembles coarse meal flecked with pea-size pieces of butter. Scatter topping evenly over rhubarb mixture.
Transfer dish to oven and bake until topping is golden brown and rhubarb is soft, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Set aside to cool on a wire rack at least 10 minutes before serving warm with whipped cream or strawberry ice cream.
Notes: In this new take on a classic “Joy of Cooking” recipe, gingersnaps and candied ginger gives this crisp a kick in a combination of tart rhubarb and the buttery spiced topping. If you can't find fresh rhubarb, frozen rhubarb, available year round, is a solid substitute.
Per serving: 511 calories (percent of calories from fat, 40), 3 grams protein, 76 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 23 grams fat (13 grams saturated), 54 milligrams cholesterol, 240 milligrams sodium.
Recipe: Roasted strawberry and buttermilk ice cream
Total time: 1 hour, plus time for freezing; makes: 1 quart
For the roasted strawberries:
• 1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced ½ inch thick
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
For the ice cream base:
• 1½ cups whole milk
• 2 tablespoons cornstarch
• 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
• ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
• 1¼ cups heavy cream
• 2/3 cup sugar
• 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
• ¼ cup buttermilk
For the roasted strawberries: Preheat oven to 375.
In an 8 inch glass or ceramic baking dish, combine strawberries with sugar and roast for 8 minutes, or until just soft. Let cool slightly. Puree the berries in a blender or food processor with the lemon juice. Measure ½ cup of the pureed berries and refrigerate the rest for another purpose.
For the ice cream: In a small bowl, mix two tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch to make a smooth slurry.
In a medium bowl, whisk the cream cheese and salt together until smooth.
Fill a large bowl with ice water to make an ice bath.
In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar and corn syrup. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heat-proof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
In a medium bowl, gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the strawberry puree and the buttermilk and blend well.
Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes, Freeze in 1 ½ quart canister ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions.
— Adapted from “Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home” by Jeni Britton Bauer
Notes: This ice cream recipe from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams founder Jeni Britton Bauer mixes summer strawberries made sweeter by roasting and tangy buttermilk. You'll need a standard 1 ½ quart canister ice cream machine.
Per ½-cup serving: 315 calories (percent of calories from fat, 50), 3 grams protein, 38 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 18 grams fat (11 grams saturated), 65 milligrams cholesterol, 190 milligrams sodium.