Sweet Annie’s Cocktail Cobbler

BY VALERIE BELDEN WILDER
Columbia County, New York  I  Thursday, 19 April 2018

Sunday was the last time I would see Annie at church.

Annie is one of my very favorite sister missionaries. She’s been in our area for six months, one-third of her 18-month mission! When she and Briana, her companion, came to dinner last Thanksgiving, I fell in love with her gorgeous smile, sweet personality, and willingness to help out in the kitchen.

So, in honor of her going-away party after church, I was asked several days prior, by the president of the women’s organization, to bring in some cookies or cupcakes.

No problem, right? I mean, y’all know I love to bake! But wait. Recently, I’ve been sick for about a week, with a nasty cold that Just. Won’t. Leave.

I should’ve gone into town to get more baking ingredients, but just couldn’t find the strength to get dressed and put on enough makeup to make myself look anything less than dead.

(Food storage, folks. I have a testimony of food storage. Including water! Last Monday we had a windstorm which knocked out our power for six hours. Luckily, I have water stored, and I went through four 2-liter bottles of water, just in that amount of time. But let me get back on topic now.)

I guess I could have made JT’s Root Beer Cookies, since I had everything they called for, but I just didn’t feel up to all that individual spooning of dough. Plus, with this particular oven, I can only bake one sheet of cookies at a time, and I felt like making cookies might take FORever.

But I love Annie and I HAD to make something, then drag myself down to church and hear her departure talk. (She also sang, with her sweet singing voice, accompanied by her companion, Laney, on violin.)

So, desperate to make something yummy, but easy, my tired eyes roved restlessly around my kitchen, until my gaze fell on a box of white cake mix. That seemed kind of boring, though.

But I reached way, way back, within the cobwebs of my middle-aged mind, and remembered a very simple recipe from long ago, which I have in an old 1980’s cookbook, called The Starving Students Cookbook. The only problem was the cookbook is in storage in Salt Lake. But I remembered one of the only things I ever made from it was an easy peach cobbler.

Of course, when I Googled “Starving Student Peach Cobbler”, nothing came up but ads for the Starving Student moving company. And I doubted that exact recipe was even online anyways, since it’s from an old cookbook. (And yes, it pains me to admit a cookbook from my college days is now OLD, haha!)

So I kept searching online, until I stumbled across one that looked similar, from Six Sisters. It only calls for a cake mix, two cans of peaches in heavy syrup, and a stick of butter.

But I had no peaches in my pantry. (Hanging head in provident housewife shame. But wait, I’m not a wife. Maybe I can use that as an excuse? Haha!) I did have a jar of fruit cocktail, though, which is waaay better than fruit cocktail in a can, because there’s none of those dang disgusting gross grapes I hate. I also had a can of mandarin oranges.

But all the fruit was in light syrup, and not heavy. So I separated the fruit from the juice and added a bunch of brown sugar to the syrup, stirring well. Then I recombined the fruit and syrup.

This recipe is more appropriately called a Dump Cake, since you don’t do any mixing of ingredients, but I despise that name. So, I call it Cocktail Cobbler, instead. Here’s the recipe, named in honor of Annie, because I invented it for her party.

SWEET ANNIE’S COCKTAIL COBBLER
2 cans fruit cocktail (approximately 32 ounces)
one box of cake mix (white or yellow)
one stick of butter (1/2 cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour fruit cocktail in bottom of a non-greased 9″ x 13″ pan, JUICE AND ALL. (You may also use two 8″ x 8″ pans.) Arrange fruit so it’s evenly spread in a thin layer on the bottom of the pan(s), with no clumping. I also sliced some of the peaches and pears which seemed a bit large, to make thinner, more uniform slices.

Dump in powder from one cake mix. You DO NOT need to add the water, eggs, or butter the mix calls for. Spread the mix evenly, WITHOUT STIRRING. Rather, press the cake mix powder down into the fruit lightly, with the back of a medium-sized spoon.

Slice one stick of butter and place pats evenly on top of the dry cake mix.

Bake it according to the directions on cake mix box, adjusting time for pan size, color of your baking pan, and how hot your oven is.

The cake is done when the top looks golden brown, and edges are pulling away from the pan. You can also insert a toothpick or knife into the center of the cobbler, until it comes out clean, to test for doneness.

You might see small areas where fruit juice has bubbled through the top crust, and some spots begin to look rather caramelized. This is normal.

Once the cobbler has cooled, you can cut it into squares, for easier serving. But DON’T attempt to take them out of the pan and put them on a serving platter, as they’re supposed to be crumbly and break apart easily. That’s the nature of a cobbler.

Just place a medium-sized serving spoon next to the pan, for your family or guests to use. And don’t forget a stack of dessert plates, some dessert forks, and napkins.

It’s also a good idea to serve with mugs of milk. This cake is very sweet, and it’s nice to have a drink of cold milk on the side, and/or a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of the warm cobbler. Yummy yum!

Optional add-ins
Slivered almonds
Extra maraschino cherries, cut in half
Vanilla extract
Spices, such as ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and/or cloves. Pumpkin pie spice would work, as well.
Oatmeal and brown sugar streusel-like topping

Optional add-ons
Vanilla ice cream, for serving on top of warm cobbler
Milk, for washing it all down!

This recipe sounds crazy, like it would never work without stirring, but it really does! It’s also quick, inexpensive, and makes a minimum of dishes. Next time you’re in a hurry to make a homemade dessert, give it a try!

[MORE INFORMATION]
To see the Six Sisters’ cookbooks:
https://www.google.com/search?q=six+sisters+cookbooks&enablesearch=true

To see a pic of my Starving Students Cookbook
(it’s the bright yellow one):
https://www.google.com/search?q=starving+students+cookbook&enablesearch=true