So, I saw this on the Food Network the other day. It was just on in my living room in the background and I wasn't paying it much attention. Mostly because Tricia Yearwood was the guest on Paula Deen's show. In case you don't know, I think Garth Brooks left his wife for Tricia and so I have carried this dislike for her ever since. To be fair, I have no idea what the scenario was, or if it was even scandalous or not. I don't even know if there was cheating involved and really, I have no desire to find out. I'm unfair like that. I don't have the same dislike or judgement towards others who have made the same choices, just certain people and Tricia and Garth, for whatever unfortunate reason, happen to be two of them. I do the same thing with Amy Grant, but that's another story for another day.
However, while I was trying to ignore the show (I have no idea why I didn't just turn it off) I saw something remarkable right at the very end. I saw what looked to be a brownie like cake, seemingly, only baked half-way through so that when you spooned a portion into your bowl, there was all this leftover thick, fudgy sauce at the bottom, almost like a chocolate molten lava, deconstructed, and laced with pecans. Then I thought I heard "toffee bits" and "caramel whipped cream" getting thrown around. I ran for the remote right as Paula was topping hers off with a scoop of chocolate and vanilla swirl ice cream. What the? Was this for real? I re-winded the whole segment and watched from the beginning. Thank goodness for DVR.
Do you ever have one of those moments when you see something being made and you just know that you have to drop everything you are doing and make the same thing, like stat? When something looks so ridiculously yummy and too good to be true that you have to find out for yourself right then and there? That's what happened to me during this segment. I marched straight into the kitchen and got to work. And you know what else? By the end of the whole thing, I found Tricia Yearwood to be completely delightful.
This is called a "cobbler" because of the way it's made. You melt some butter in a baking dish and add a simple chocolate batter, which serves as the filling. In a traditional cobbler, this would be the fruit part. Then you cover the batter layer with a mixture of sugar, cocoa, pecans and toffee bits. This of course, serves in lieu of the streusel topping you would add on top to a fruit cobbler. Then, you just have to trust me on this one...you pour a bunch of boiling water over the top of the whole thing. This step is plain weird and not something I have heard of before, and most definitely not something you do with regular cobbler. But then you bake it and it becomes this bubbling chocolate creation all it's own. It will be cooked on top and saucy on the bottom.
It gets a little complicated beyond this step. Only because I made it that way though. I want to change the name of this dessert to "The Hot Mess" because that it the perfect description for it. Here's why: Paula has you make a caramel whipped cream to go on top of this dessert. All you do is add 2 tablespoons (or 4 if you are me) of ready made caramel sauce to your cream after it is whipped. Well, you know I didn't have ready made caramel sauce from the store hanging out in my fridge so I had to make my own. When I added it to the whipped cream, it was good and all, but it would have been just as good if not better if you had just squeezed some of that caramel sauce over the whole dessert, so it was an unnecessary step if you ask me. Also, I only had plain vanilla ice cream, so I added some chocolate sauce to the top of mine to compensate for the chocolate-vanilla swirl that was supposed to be there. In the end it was fantastic. Utterly, fantastic. All you need to know with topping this dessert is to use ice cream and whipped cream. You also want a caramel flavor in there are well as chocolate, so whatever way you can accomplish that by all means do it. Store bought sauce, homemade sauce, carmel in your whipped cream, caramel on top of the whipped cream, whatever is fine. I will write the recipe as Paula wrote it though.
Chocolate-Pecan Cobbler with Caramel Whipped Cream
adapted from Paula's Best Dishes, Food Network
6 tablespoons butter
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, divided
1/2 to 1 cup whole milk (see note)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans, plus a few extra for sprinkling on top
1/2 cup toffee bits, Heath brand recommended
1 1/2 cups boiling water
chocolate-vanilla swirl ice cream, for serving
For Caramel whipped cream:
2 cups heavy cream,
store bought caramel syrup (or my homemade recipe follows)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
caramel whipped cream, recipe follows
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the butter in an 8 by 8-inch baking dish and put the dish in the oven until the butter is melted, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the oven and set aside. In a medium bowl combine 3/4 cup of sugar, the flour, baking powder, salt, and 4 tablespoons cocoa. Add the milk and vanilla, whisking until smooth. Pour over the melted butter in the baking dish. In a separate medium bowl, combine the remaining 1 cup sugar, remaining 4 tablespoons of cocoa, the pecans, and toffee bits; sprinkle evenly over the batter mixture. Slowly pour the 1 1/2 cups boiling water over the top of the cobbler. Bake until top of cobbler looks set, about 45 to 50 minutes.
Serve warm with caramel whipped cream, ice cream and pecans, if desired.
note: Paula's recipe calls for 1/2 cup of whole milk, but I needed about a cup to make a smooth batter. The batter should be thick like a brownie batter, but smooth enough to whisk, so add in as much as necessary.
To make the caramel whipped cream:
Combine the 2 cups heavy cream and powdered sugar in an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on medium-high until soft peaks form. Add 2-4 tablespoons of the caramel syrup, and beat together. Taste and add more syrup or sugar if necessary.
My caramel syrup: use if you prefer homemade:
adapted from The Joy Of Cooking
Place in a small, heavy saucepan:
1 cup sugar
Pour evenly over top:
1/4 cup water
Set over medium-high heat and swirl the saucepan gently by the handle until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is clear. Avoid letting the syrup boil until the sugar is completely dissolved. Increase the heat to high, cover the saucepan tightly, and boil the syrup for 2 minutes. Uncover the saucepan and continue to boil the syrup until it begins to darken around the edges. Gently swirl the pan by the handle until the syrup turns a deep amber and begins to smoke. Remove from the heat and add:
1/3 cup water
Stand back! It will spit and hiss and sputter. Stir until smooth. If the caramel remains lumpy, stir briefly over low heat. Serve at once or let cool, then cover and refrigerate for up to 6 months. Re-heat over low heat, stirring in a little water if needed.
A lot of writing, but an easy dessert, especially if you buy the store bought syrup and the right ice cream!