There is a short period of time in lower Alabama, a time long before the June bugs come around in May and before the Maypop flowers bloom in mid April that we are humbled with the fruits from the prickly stems along the coast known as our beloved southern dewberry. Actually belonging to the rose family and officially called Rubus trivialis, the vines or canes spread outwards along the sides of roadways and clearings making it somewhat easy to harvest unlike the blackberry that grows densely, kinda shrubby and will produce larger fruit later in the season. The dewberry is a little sweeter, a whole lot softer and the vines produce much less fruit than the average blackberry cane. It takes all the will power I know not to eat the sweet fruits before getting home for if I did, I would not be able to enjoy the goodness of this short lived pleasure.
This dessert is one of Aunt Ida’s cobbler treats, to me she was the queen of cobblers and did so many darn good things with them. I am lucky to have known her and this is how I remember her making this one. Like many of her desserts with seed type fruits, she goes to the trouble to strain out the seeds and then she adds diced pears to give it body. If the seeds don’t bother you then don’t waste the time, I won’t tell. This dessert is really more like a custard slump or pie I suppose and served with a creamy ice cream topping, but who’s gonna correct her, bless her heart, not me.
Ida’s Dewberry Cobbler Cream Dessert
use any berry or bramble fruit for this slump
pie crust recipe for double crust
4 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 cup pecan meal or finely minced pecans
3 good cups dewberries (or your choice)
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon juice
blackberry drink or pear juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 pears, diced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 pint vanilla bean ice cream, softened
2 cups whipped cream
zest of lemon if desired
Make your favorite pie crust for 2 pies rolling one out for a deep 9-inch or a 10-inch pie. Roll remaining crust out into a rectangle. Sprinkle each crust with 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 cup pecan meal to make a shortbread-like crust. Press the sugar and pecans into the pastry. Line one 10-inch pie pan with the pie crust sugar side up and cut the rectangle into 1/2-inch wide strips lengthwise. Set aside
Wash the dewberries gently rinsing under water and place in a saucepan. Use a fork to crush them up a bit and stir in the sugar. Heat over medium low heat and cook for about 20 minutes until the berries cook out. Dissolve the cornstarch in the lemon juice and stir into the berries. Stir until thicken and remove from heat. Run through a food mill or press through a mesh strainer with the back of a spoon.
Discard the berry pulp and seeds and to the juice mixture, add enough fruit juice to make 3 cups. Stir in the vanilla. In a large bowl, beat the eggs just a bit and stir in the flour. Fold in the diced pears and then the berry mixture.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Pour mixture into the unbaked pie shell. Place strips of crust, sugar side up, along the top as desired. Place dessert in the oven and bake reduce heat to 350 degrees F. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until center is set. Remove and let cool. Refrigerate if desired.
Meanwhile, make the topping mixing with the softened ice cream, the whipped cream and lemon zest. Place in freezer to firm.
Remove the topping from the freezer about 10 minutes before serving. Top cobbler with the topping when ready to serve.
Note: Any leftover strips of pie crust strips that is not needed for the top of the grunt, Ida would bake along side on a pan and serve them in with the dessert as ‘extra goodies’ as she called them.