Welcome to Slow Cooker Week, in which The Takeout uses its favorite cold-weather kitchen appliance in the dead of summer.
I love my slow-cooker. A decade in small Chicago apartments with loads of vintage charm and almost no air circulation has impressed upon me the importance of finding any alternative to turning on one’s oven when it’s over 70 degrees—once an old, tiny kitchen gets hot, getting it cool again is no easy matter. And so one turns to one’s slow-cooker, blessed invention, and one makes all kinds of things without spending one’s evening drenched in one’s own sweat. Making soup in such times is fine. Making dessert is even better.
Regular readers of The Takeout might remember my love letter to the egg cooker, in which I admit that while I am a capable, intelligent, grown-ass woman, I also have the attention-span of a grape . And so, in the interest of transparency, I feel compelled to tell you that I have made—or, rather, attempted to make—my favorite peach cobbler twice this week. Yes, I make peach cobbler in a slow cooker. It is possible. It is delightful.
My first time, however, this happened:
So I left it in the slow cooker about several hours too long. Oopsie-daisy. Pro tip: you can absolutely still eat peach cobbler that’s become more like a singed hard biscuit sitting on top of a peach jam-like substance, but I’d ditch the top part and just spread that stuff on a toasted English muffin (or, if you don’t have one handy, scoop some up with a cracker or two). I’d also suggest setting a timer, even if you convince yourself that you’ll just remember. If you’re me, you won’t.
Round two, though, was a delight. I make the peach portion of the dish in a way that’s similar to the applesauce I make in the fall, with allspice, cinnamon, vanilla extract, a little sea salt, and loads of bourbon. If you can get your hands on smoked sea salt, it is worth it; I use this stuff. Because my first attempt was so botched, I figured that was an excuse to use some extra bourbon, so I added a hearty slug after mixing. It was a good choice.
For the crust, I used this recipe from A Spicy Perspective that I found last year. It’s the most consistent I’ve tried, although I was mostly drawn to it because it calls for bourbon as well, so hey, kindred spirits. Also, the photos were pretty.
That said, I’ve done this as a crumble as well. Still delicious, but less hearty. Whatever you choose, just don’t forget you’re making it.
For the peaches:
- 5-7 fresh peaches, about 3 lbs., sliced (feel free to substitute frozen if out of season)
- 2/3 cup bourbon (more, if you’re feeling feisty)
- 2/3 cup melted unsalted butter (1 stick, plus a little extra)
- 1 tsp. allspice
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/3 cup sugar (granulated, but light brown sugar works too)
- 1 tsp. coarse sea salt, plus a pinch for when the dish is done
- Dash or two of vanilla extract
For the crust (from A Spicy Perspective):
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter (1 stick)
Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Repurpose one of the butter stick wrappers to coat the inside of the cooker (you don’t need much, and cooking spray works, too). Put the peaches, bourbon, and melted butter in the slow cooker and stir until slices are coated. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well; make sure the peaches are spread evenly throughout the cooker.
Mix all dry ingredients for the crust in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the milk, then slowly whisk in the melted butter until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter over the peaches, making sure that it completely covers the peaches and touches the sides of the dish. Cover and cook for 4 hours on high or 7 hours on low (add an hour for frozen peaches). Check to see if the edges are golden; if so, check the center with a toothpick to make sure it’s done. If not, cook for another 15 minutes and check again; repeat until done.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or both. After adding the cream of your choice, sprinkle with a tiny pinch of coarse sea salt. Yum.
One last note: That terrific recipe from A Spicy Perspective suggests stretching a paper towel over the top of the dish before putting the lid on, to absorb condensation and help the crust get crispy. I’ve tried this cobbler recipe three times (three and a half, if you count my first fuck-up this week) and this trick worked twice. The other time, the paper towel got too heavy with moisture and sagged into the batter. I got it out easily and the cobbler was still delicious, but it was slightly less easy on the eyes. I’d still say it’s worth trying, but keep an eye on it. And again, set a timer.