Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Mad Scientist's Peach Cobbler

I'd planned to make a blueberry cobbler, but most of the fruit disappeared--fruit I'd supposedly hidden. Not well enough, right? However, I found quite a few peaches. I remembered a series of recipes I'd seen on Pinterest, and several had involved the unlikely mix of fruit, cake mix, and 7-Up. You've seen those recipes, haven't you? The ones that call for three ingredients? Or the ones that get a bit adventurous, deviating from an already strange procedure. I chose the latter route.
Well, I had peaches. And I always have cake mix in the pantry, along with sugared pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon. But what about the 7-Up? I found two small sprite cans in the back of the fridge. I grabbed a stick of unsalted butter, too. If I was going to improvise, and it appeared that I was, why not be a full bore mad scientist?

Anyway, here's my method (not a recipe) for Mad Scientist Peach Cobbler:

5 peaches, sliced but not peeled
1 stick unsalted butter
1 box super moist cake mix
sugared pecans, chopped (1/4 cup)
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 small cans Sprite (15 oz, approx)
pinch of salt

(if you follow a bonafide recipe for cake mix + sprite + fruit, you won't have to bother with this step):

light brown sugar
unsalted butter, softened

Into a greased 9 x 13-inch pan, add sliced peaches. You'll want to cover the bottom in a nice, thick layer. I used 5 medium peaches, and I didn't peel them. Over the fruit, I sprinkled 1 package of sugared pecans (small bag), followed by 1 box of vanilla super moist cake mix. This is where I deviated horribly from the recipes. I dotted the dry batter with 1 stick of unsalted butter and 1/2 cup light brown sugar. Next, I slowly added the Sprite (about 15 oz). It bubbled up like a chemistry experiment. Finally, I sprinkled 1 tablespoon of cinnamon over the bubbly pop. The pan went into a 350 degree pre-heated oven. And that's when the cinnamon turned a lurid shade of black-brown. If it had been a paint chip, Benjamin Moore would call it "Scorched Earth."  It happened quickly, like, in 15 minutes. Shocked to my toes, I removed the pan from the oven (and lowered the heat to 325). All of the recipes for this super fast dessert had warned against stirring. But upon closer inspection, the cinnamon wasn't really torched; it was "just" discolored. So I stirred, hoping the dark bits would vanish. But now that I'd stirred, I'd disrupted the chemistry of the recipe: I didn't have a crumbly topping for my cobbler. Quickly, using a pastry blender, I cut in flour/butter/and light brown sugar. When it was nice and crumbly, I spread it over the trainwreck. I covered the pan with foil and placed it in the oven. I kept opening the oven door to peek beneath the foil. Now and then, I jiggled the pan, and the cobbler sloshed merrily, too. At least it didn't bubble up and drip into my oven, which was a small mercy (just in case, I'd put cookie sheets under the cobbler, which probably interfered with the baking. But I wasn't taking any chances).

All in all, it took an hour at 325 degrees for the strange batter finally "set." At this point, I removed the foil cover and cranked up the temp to 350. I baked the cobbler an additional 15 minutes, allowing the topping to brown. Total baking time: 1 hour at 325 and 15 minutes at 350.

All I can say is this: next time I will follow the recipe. My tinkerings are hair-raising. I've made scratch cobblers that were less upsetting.

Must. Stop. Experimenting.

Despite everything, the cobbler was very good. The extra sugar didn't make it too sweet (not for me). Vanilla ice cream made it even better.

According to the Exhausted Cook's difficulty scale, a 1 is super difficult (think scratch puff pastry), and a 5 would be effortless (think Jiffy Cornbread mix). I'd have to rate my version of this recipe as a 3, though at times, it felt like a 2. If I hadn't been in Mad Scientist mode, the recipe would have been a 1. Can't vouch for the flavor, but I'll try the recipe again and also try to behave.

 For a more traditional recipe, check Pinterest. I thought Butter With a Side of Bread had a great recipe, and it calls for only 4 ingredients. 


  1. Ha, that does sound stressful! Great save though, and I love your photo :)

  2. Ok Scorched Earth, you might be on to something, 2nd I gotta give you points for working that recipe. I would have tossed the whole thing-ha-ha. With my dump cake I found crumbling the melted butter and cake mix worked better than layering, you could add pecans too.

  3. I haven't made dump cake for years, but it never had a liquid, so I don't think I would have added the sprite. It used to be just pie filling (blueberry), some drained crushed pineapple, the cake mix on top, as lumpy as possible, and then the cut-up stick of butter. Now I want dump cake...

  4. Hey, I give you a "A" for effort! And as long as it was edible, not all was lost!

  5. Sometimes I tinker with recipes too much and want to pull my hair out! Then I think, maybe I should have just have made the one that I really like instead of trying something new!

  6. I'm chuckling over your scorched earth descriptor and the picture I have in my head of your cobbler as it "sloshed merrily" :) I glad the results were tasty and your photos and styling are certainly delicious!

  7. Everything tastes better with flowers!