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Cobbler Night in Prairie Village full of juicy fruit, community camaraderie

07/08/2013 6:00 AM

07/08/2013 5:03 PM

There’s something deliciously comfortable about cradling a bowl of Erin Brown’s from-scratch cobbler.

On its own the humble dessert, with a jumble of fruit tucked underneath a golden crust bubbling with syrup, is fragrant and homey and inspiring.

Combining the timeless classic (no doubt your grandmother’s mother whipped up cobblers during summer’s fruit bonanza) with a neighborhood gathering invokes memories of generations past.

That’s the idea behind Brown’s Cobbler Night at her popular Dolce Baking Co. in Prairie Village. Bake it and they will come — young families with toddlers in tow, singles, mothers with babes in arms, date-night couples, professionals dropping by after a long day at the office — in search of simple, sweet sustenance.

The bonus is the old-fashioned ice cream social vibe Brown and her employees create during the summer early-evening events. Some people stay for a bit of cobbler camaraderie while others tote their cobblers home to loved ones.

And still others have one cobbler for now and one for tomorrow.

The last Thursday in June, I gather with eager cobbler aficionados at 5:45 p.m. outside Dolce, chatting with Cobbler Night regulars and first-timers.

A sandwich board written in colorful chalk declares the evening’s menu: blackberry, cherry and peach cobblers, served a la mode with Glacé Artisan Ice Cream.

At 6 p.m. the bakery doors open and people line up in front of the petite bakery’s glass cases — everyone is polite, no jostling for position, ready to partake in an experience.

Alejandro Silva, dressed in shirt and tie from his corporate job, is there for carryout cobbler.

“Every Cobbler Night I take some home for my wife and me,” he explained.

Silva leaves Dolce with a smile and one helping each of peach and cherry cobblers, along with a solemn assurance that he doesn’t dive into the dessert on the drive home.

“No,” he smiled. “The cobbler makes it to my doorstep in one piece.”

Natalie Mallory stands on line with her six-month-old daughter Rosemary, placing an order for herself and her mother, who is at home recovering from surgery.

“My mom introduced me to Cobbler Night,” Mallory said, as Rosemary bounces in one arm, cobblers balanced in the other. “There’s nothing like it.”

Tables inside Dolce and on the patio fill up with people slowly spooning fresh cobbler from bowls. Some desserts are adorned with generous scoops of ice cream and colorful sprinkles. The indescribable aroma of baking fruit and spices hangs in the air.

Brown pops in and out of the congenial happening, dividing her time between the kitchen and her guests. She poses for a picture with Silva and greets each customer as if they are old friends.

“I look forward to Cobbler Night,” said Brown, who easily looks like a fairy godmother of sweets. “It’s fun and people really enjoy it.”

I settle in with a group of strangers — including Todd Wicker of Paola who polishes off cherry cobbler adorned with Glace’s fleur de sel caramel — and waste no time diving into my bowl of peach cobbler, remembering church ice cream socials of my youth.

Conversation is spirited, the crowd ebbs and flows and cobbler reigns supreme that Thursday night at Dolce.

On the way out, I grab a half-dozen of Brown’s chocolate-dipped macaroons.

And unlike Silva’s to-go cobblers, at least two of the cookies won’t make it home.

Erin Brown of Dolce Baking Co. in Prairie Village loves the simplicity of cobbler and how the unassuming dessert resonates with her customers. Here she shares her recipe for cobbler — scrumptious any time of the year — but especially so with summer’s fruit. Dolce’s next Cobbler Night is set for 6 – 8 p.m. Thursday at the boutique bakery, 6974 Mission Road.

Get there early and commune with friends, neighbors and strangers you’ll be on a first-name basis with by the time you leave. Visit Dolce Baking Co.'s website for more information. Dolce Baking Company’s Fruit Cobbler

Use: 9” x 13”-ish pan

INGREDIENTS

4 oz. butter, melted

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup brown sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tbsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. sea salt

½ cup whole milk

¼ cup buttermilk

½ tsp. vanilla

¼ tsp. almond extract (optional)

About 3 cups total fresh fruit

Extra brown sugar for sprinkling on top.

METHOD

Preheat oven to 350 F. Pour 4 oz. melted butter into a 9-inch-by-13-inch pan.

Whisk together sugars, flour, baking powder, salt, milks and flavorings (will have the consistency of pancake batter). Pour batter over butter —

do not stir

— just marble a bit. Top with fruit (if using berries, put them down on the bottom first and then pour batter over). Sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake until cobbler is golden brown on top — about 30 – 45 minutes. Serve with ice cream, if desired.

Kimberly Winter Stern—also known as Kim Dishes—is an award-winning freelance writer and national blogger from Overland Park and co-host with Chef Jasper Mirabile on LIVE! From Jasper's Kitchen each Saturday on KCMO 710/103.7FM. She is inspired by the passion, creativity and innovation of chefs, restaurateurs and food artisans who make Kansas City a vibrant center of locavore cuisine.

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