blueberry and peach cobbler

When I was growing up, in the same house I always lived in, across the street lived the J family. We had six kids and they had five. The ages of the children staggered a bit, whereby a baby was born about once a year between our two houses.

All these years (decades) later, and Mr. and Mrs. J still live across from my parents. They are simply the best neighbors in the world — hands down.

Here’s an example of their kindness and neighborliness: Back in the fall my sisters and I surprised our parents with an unannounced weekend at their house. Three of us flew in from various parts of the country and the fourth sister lived close enough to pick us all up at the airport, then drove us the two hours to our family home. We arrived late one Friday night, and soon after, the news of our surprise was posted on a popular social networking site. Mrs. J heard about it from that site and before I had showered on Saturday morning she brought over two fresh from the oven homemade desserts for us to enjoy over the weekend.

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Years ago while visiting my parents one summer, we all went berry picking. Later we were thinking up recipes for all the berries and Mrs. J suggested making a fruit cobbler. I had never made one before (I’m a pie-girl), so I took her recipe and added it to my collection. That recipe now comes out very frequently, especially this time of year, when blueberries are fresh and plentiful.

You can make this cobbler with any type of fruit, and I’ve tried a few combinations. My favorite all time cobbler combination is blueberry and peach. Amazingly delicious!

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Fruit Cobbler

*Note: I’m listing three sets of ingredient lists for this recipe. First is Mrs. J’s original recipe, which doesn’t list a certain quantity of fruit — whatever amount fits well in the baking dish will work! Then the one I tend to make most of the time. And finally, the one I made today, which is pretty much a doubled version of the original and has tons of the batter topping — but beware, if you use this doubled version you must use a large enough pan. I should have used a 9×13 pan but instead the pan I used today wasn’t large enough (it was deep, which is not the best for a double cobbler) and therefore the dough was too thick on top.

Mrs. J’s recipe…

In a 9×9 baking dish, fill with cut up fruit of your choice. Sprinkle the fruit with 2 tablespoons of sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.

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Sift together:

1 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

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Add:

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup butter, softened

Beat until smooth. Spoon over the fruit in the 9×9 pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Serve warm with cream or ice cream, if desired.

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My normal recipe…

In a baking dish combine:

4 peaches, peeled and sliced

1 pint blueberries

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

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Sift together:

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

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Add:

3/4 cup milk

6 tablespoons butter, softened

Beat until smooth. Spoon over the fruit in the baking dish. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Serve warm with cream or ice cream, if desired.

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Today’s doubled recipe with lots of the batter part…

In a large baking dish (9×13 or similar) combine:

6 peaches, peeled and sliced

1 1/2 pints blueberries

3 to 4 tablespoons sugar

1/2 to 1 teaspoon nutmeg

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Sift together:

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

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Add:

1 cup milk

1/2 cup butter, softened

Beat until smooth.

Spoon over the fruit in the baking dish. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Serve warm with cream or ice cream, if desired.

caramel brownies

I haven’t made caramel brownies in years. Don’t know why. They’re a favorite of mine and my husband loves them as well (he remembers when I made them when we were first married). And my oldest children love brownies and they love caramel, yet I haven’t made these brownies for them. I can not explain why I’ve put off making these for so many years. I am a mystery unto myself.

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I first made these when I was young and single … way back when. My housemates and girlfriends would often go to outdoor concerts together. Instead of the typical wine, cheese and crackers, and fruit, we’d bring hard liquor and caramel brownies. One of my girlfriends told me it was a Southern thing. I think it was more a hard liquor and brownie-loving thing, and not specific to any area of the country. When I met my husband-to-be shortly thereafter, I made these brownies for him, since he has a huge sweet tooth. It was love at first bite.

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Today we made the brownies in muffin tins. That way I could make a few without caramel, for my youngest son, and because I am the proud owner of thousands of paper muffin liners. Problem is they are hard to take out of the paper liners when warm, and I love eating warm brownies, so we end up with messing looking, but delicious tasting, brownies (see bottom photo). If appearance matters to you, I’d suggest making them in a 9×13 pan, but please wait until they are cool to cut them, or you’ll end up with the same problem I had.

My brownie recipe is from Hershey’s (it’s been my go-to recipe for delicious homemade brownies for years), but you could use your favorite brownie recipe or a boxed brownie mix.

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P. S. A huge thank you to a blogging friend for the inspiration to make these brownies. She sent me a package two weeks ago and in the box was a bag of caramels. The second I saw them I was reminded of those caramel brownies from years ago, and immediately put “make caramel brownies” on my to-do list. Thanks blogging friend!

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Caramel Brownies

2 dozen caramels

2 sticks butter

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 eggs

3/4 cup cocoa

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

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Heat oven to 350F.

Remove wrappers from caramels and cut each one into fourths.

Fill muffin pans with paper liners, or grease a 9×13 baking pan.

In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave butter on high until melted.

Put melted butter into a mixer and slowly mix in the sugar and vanilla.

Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Add cocoa and mix until well blended.

Add flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well.

Distribute batter into prepared muffin tins or pan.

Place 4 – 6 pieces of caramel on each brownie, or if using the 9×13 pan just distribute the pieces evenly over all.

If, when making them in muffin tins, you end up with extra batter (as we did today) put a small amount on top of each brownie, covering up the caramels. (*Note: It doesn’t matter if the caramel pieces are exposed or covered up. The brownies will taste delicious either way.)

Bake 20-24 minutes if using the muffin tins, or 30-35 minutes if using the 9×13 pan.

Cool. (*Note: This is the hardest part.)

*Note: The original instructions for this brownie recipe were to stir with a spoon, and not to use an electric mixer. We use the electric mixer, but use a low speed to mix the ingredients.

*Final note: Next time I will make these in the 9×13 pan. Getting them out of the paper liners was a bother, even after they were cool.