As I have mentioned in previous posts, the only thing I find I dislike about the arrival of Spring in Rome is that I have to say good bye to the PROLAW students I work with every year, who complete their coursework in April and return home to write their theses. It is strange to work with a group of people on a daily basis for 8 months – or more, if you count in the five or so months I correspond with them pre arrival while completing their preparations for the program – and then suddenly not have them around anymore. The upside of all of this is of course that I now have friends all over the world, and lots of places and people to visit.
My friend Charity is a PROLAW student due to leave to go back to the U.S (San Diego, CA, to be specific) in a week. Charity is not only a lawyer, a student, and the PROLAW Administrative Fellow, she is also a wife and mother – her husband, Rocky, and their adorable baby Constance are also living in Rome this year. In short, Charity wears many hats and manages to be spectacular in all of her many roles. In her role as Administrative Fellow she shared my office this year, which was so much fun – I couldn’t have asked for a better colleague or friend. I admire her greatly and value her friendship more than I can say, and I will miss her greatly next year. I am so glad to have met her, Rocky, and Constance, and can’t wait to make a trip to California to see them all.
Me and Charity!
Recently Charity and Rocky (who are, may I add, one of the sweetest, most lovely couples you’ll ever meet) invited me to dinner at their apartment. I got a chance to cook with Rocky, a chef with his own awesome blog chronicling his adventures in Rome this year. I will be detailing what he prepared in his own guest post, so for now we will skip right to the dessert, which I contributed. Rocky had requested a fruit dessert, and Charity’s favorite fruit is plums, so I opted for this Plum Cobbler with Cinnamon biscuits. This is a dessert that I’ve been making since it was published in Bon Appetit magazine back in 2004, in my early baking days, and it is absolutely delicious. For our non-American readers – a cobbler is essentially a fruit dessert with a biscuit topping, not to be confused with a crisp or crumble, which has more of a streusel crumb topping. It is reminiscent of a fruit pie, without the time consuming homemade pie crust.
This dessert is light, refreshing and perfect for summer, especially when served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Note that if you’re not a fan of plums you could also substitute peaches, apples, or pears, or even a mixture of fruits (I’m hoping to try peach and blueberry next). It was a great finish to our meal, and even got the stamp of approval from baby Constance. Thanks for a lovely evening, Rocky and Charity!
PLUM COBBLER WITH CINNAMON BISCUITS
Ingredients for the filling:
4 pounds plums (about 12 large), halved, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ingredients for the biscuits:
2 cups flour
5 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, optional
For the fruit: Preheat oven to 400°f. Toss plums, sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla in large bowl to coat. Transfer this mixture to a 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Bake the plums until the juices begin to bubble, about 30 minutes.
For the biscuits: Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl to blend. Add butter; rub in with fingertips until coarse meal forms. Whisk 3/4 cup whipping cream, vanilla, and egg in a small bowl to blend. Stir cream mixture into flour mixture just until blended. Stir all the ingredients together until dough comes together.
Remove plums from oven and stir gently. Use a large spoon to scoop out pieces of dough and arrange them over the hot plums, spacing apart (the biscuits will expand while baking). Brush the cobbler dough with remaining 2 tablespoons cream and sprinkle with a little cinnamon and sugar mixed together, if you’d like.
Bake the cobbler until the biscuits are browned, and a toothpick inserted into the center of the biscuits comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve hot or warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Serves 8.