I’ve always loved the phrase “old soul”; it brings to mind an image of a very whimsical creature — one untouched by the mundanities of life. It tends not to describe an early bedtime, insomnia or creaky joints. Unfortunately, the only reason someone would ever refer to me as an “old soul” is if they were referring to my 10 p.m. bedtime.
This is why I’m completely baffled as to why I thought it was a good idea to start baking a Moosewood recipe at 11 p.m. At 11:30 p.m., as I awaited my Blueberry Cobbler’s exit from the oven, I fought to keep my eyes open in an effort to not burn my house down.
As I progress through this Moosewood journey, it is becoming harder and harder to choose a recipe every week. Because I prefer baking to cooking, I’ve been disproportionately relying on the Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts for my weekly “experiment.” Sadly, I’m a college student on a budget and don’t have the funds (nor the justification) to pay for an ingredient that I’ll only use once. Like, what is imitation butter and why can’t I just use real butter? And some of these recipes are just so labor intensive that I don’t have the time or patience to actually make them.
While combing through the cookie and bar section in the hopes that I somehow missed a super fast and simple recipe the previous 400 times I looked, I decided that I would make a fruit cobbler. After eating two dozen cookies on my own within the past week, I deluded myself into thinking that if I make a dessert with fruit (and a lot of sugar), it’s basically healthy.
The ingredient list was simple enough: blueberries, preserves (which I didn’t have so I just skipped them), lemon juice, lemon zest (which I also skipped), flour, sugar, baking powder and more lemon juice. I guess now would be as good of a time as any to let you know that I didn’t really stick to the recipe. I was just so fed up with looking for a recipe that I didn’t care that I was missing half of the ingredients (and added a couple extra, oops) so I figured I could fake my way through the recipe. This recipe (if you have all of the ingredients) is basically idiot-proof, which is a bold statement on my part considering I’ve been documenting all of my idiotic moves in the kitchen for the past couple of months.
The first step involved mixing the blueberries with the preserves (or extra sugar in my case), sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice. You spread the fruit mixture on the bottom of a pan and then make the topping, which was made out of flour, butter, sugar, egg, baking powder, milk and lemon peel (which I just substituted for even more lemon juice). It took me all of five minutes to get it in the oven. It probably would’ve taken me four minutes if I didn’t decide to experiment. In my mind, a cobbler and a crisp are the same thing, so when the recipe didn’t call for any cinnamon or oats, I was sure that this was some kind of mistake. I should obviously just go ahead and add them into the topping batter at my leisure. As it turns out, a cobbler and a crisp are NOT the same thing; I had created a new type of dessert: a crispler (patent pending).
I, surprisingly, managed to stay awake for the entire 40 minutes it took for my crispler to bake (and the 15 minute cooling period). As I waited, it dawned on me that I probably shouldn’t have taken creative liberties, considering the astronomical price of blueberries and the fact that I now have no more fruit in my apartment. However, I was now stuck with a Blueberry Crispler and morning was fast-approaching. In deference to my exhaustion, the taste-test would have to wait.
I was very excited to try my crispler. What if I had just revolutionized dessert? I have graced the world with the best part of both a cobbler and a crisp, nicely packaged into a single eight by eight aluminum tin. But before the actual taste-test was to commence, I had to reheat it. Since I’m new to the whole cooked-fruit-in-dessert side of baking, does anyone actually eat cold cooked fruit or does everyone eat it warm?
Now I’m sure you’re all on the edges of your seats (bold of me to assume there are multiple of you), waiting to hear about my brand new invention. I can safely say that the dessert industry is … better off without this one — at least until I can tweak some things. The beauty of a cobbler is that it’s more of a wet topping that gets baked into a cake-y texture, and the beauty of a crisp is that it’s more dry, getting baked into a crunchy top-layer. This was somewhere in-between. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely ate half of it as I sat here writing this, but it was more of an “I’m-staring-at-a-screen-and-mindlessly-eating” type of thing, instead of a “wow-this-is-delicious-I-can’t-stop-eating” type of thing.
However, three very short days later, the entire crispler was gone with the pan practically licked clean. To answer my own question, people will happily eat cold cooked fruit at midnight. By that time of day (night?), it doesn’t really matter what something tastes like, but just how quickly you can shovel it into your mouth … at least it was sorta healthy.
Sarah Austin is a sophomore in the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. She can be reached at [email protected]