VAIL, Colorado - Pure comfort food. Few desserts fall into the 'cozy' category as well as a cobbler. Warm, juicy fruit, plus crisp, crunchy crust topped off with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, it makes your mouth water just to think about it.And the variations. First, the fruit. Use fruit that's in season, any season. A peach cobbler in late summer is as welcome as an apple crisp on a blustery winter day. Then, the names - not only cobbler and crisp, but slump, buckle, grunt, brown betty, roly-poly and pandowdy are all names for a cooked fruit dessert with a biscuit, dough or bread topping. These toppings range from pourable batters to crumbly cookie doughs and crunchy streusels."Cobblers are often considered old-fashioned and plain," said Bill Fitzgerald, Avondale's pastry chef. "But their simplicity is what makes them popular with home cooks. You can assemble a cobbler before dinner and then pop it into the oven while you're eating. In about an hour, the fruit is bubbling up through the crust and it's ready to eat."There are infinite recipes for these rustic, homespun treats. Find one you like, then mix and match toppings and fruits for your own take on this American classic. Classic Apple Crisp3 pounds (about 6) granny smith apples 2 tablespoons lemon juice 2 tablespoons flour1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/3 cup all-purpose flour 1/3 cup granulated sugar 1/3 cup rolled oats 4 tablespoons cold butter 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted and choppedPeel, core and chop the apples; toss in a bowl with lemon juice. In a separate bowl, combine the brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg; add to the apples and toss to combine. In another bowl combine flour, sugar and oats. Cut butter into 8 small pieces, and cut butter into flour with a pastry blender or two forks until mixture is crumbly. Stir in the chopped nuts. Butter a 9-inch square baking dish. Spread apple mixture in bottom of baking dish then sprinkle with oat mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until apples are tender and topping is lightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature, with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.Colorado peach cobbler4 pounds ripe yellow peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced into 1/2 inch thick wedges 1 cup sugar, divided into thirds3 tablespoons cornstarch 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice 2 teaspoons vanilla 2 cups all purpose flour 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 3/4 cup (6 oz) butter, cut into 1/2 inch chunks 2/3 cup whipping creamIn a large bowl, mix peaches, 2/3 cup sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and vanilla. In another bowl, combine flour with remaining 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder and nutmeg. With a pastry blender or your fingers, incorporate butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add cream and stir just until dough holds together.In a buttered shallow 3-quart baking dish, spread fruit and level. Using your hands, crumble dough evenly over fruit. Bake in 350-degree oven until fruit mixture bubbles in center and topping is golden brown, 50-60 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.Serves 8.Blueberry BuckleSimilar to a coffee cake, this blueberry buckle has a large proportion of blueberries to cake. The cake batter supports blueberries, keeping them whole.Cake ingredients:1 1/2 cups all purpose flour2 teaspoons baking powder1/2 teaspoon salt1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened3/4 cup sugar1 large egg1/2 cup milk1 pint blueberriesTopping ingredients:1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened2/3 cup sugar1/3 cup sifted all purpose flour1 teaspoon cinnamonPreheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-inch spring form pan. Sift together the 1 1/2 cups of flour, the baking powder and the salt. Set aside. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk. Mix in the berries. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Combine ingredients for topping with a fork to make a crumbly mixture. Sprinkle this over the batter. Bake for 40 -50 minutes or until cake is golden. Test with a toothpick inserted into the center. It should come out without any batter clinging, though there may be blueberries. If it does not come out clean, give the cake another five to 10 minutes to bake.Sue Barham is the marketing director for Larkspur Restaurant and Restaurant Avondale. Larkspur, (larkspurvail.com) at the base of Vail Mountain, has been serving American Classics with a fresh interpretation since 1999. Avondale, (avondalerestaurant.com)opened in 2008 in the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa and features a West Coast inspired, market-driven menu.
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