Pro-Am Winning Black Pepper Pineapple Cranberry Cobbler

To celebrate the Grand Opening of their new brick and mortar facility in Marietta, High Road Ice Cream hosted their First Annual High Road Pro-Am Cobbler Gobbler. Six teams comprised of a chef and an amateur cook making an original cobbler in the on-site kitchen and serving it with either our Fleur de Sel or our bourbon burnt sugar, with guests voting to determine who gets to claim bragging rights and a year’s supply of High Road ice cream!

I was thrilled to be partnered with Pastry Chef Kathleen Miliotis from Davio’s Atlanta. Having tasted Chef Kathleen’s desserts at her restaurant, I knew I had a fabulous teammate. We chatted on the phone a few days before the competition to determine our game plan.

We wanted to prepare something completely original. We discussed several different flavor combinations such as pumpkin-persimmon and quince-apple, yet some of these ingredients were not in season or hard to acquire fresh. Chef mentioned that she was currently using a black peppered pineapple to top her life-affirming panna cotta and an idea was born. We decided to go with a filling of black pepper pineapple and cranberries. We wanted a kicked up topping, so Chef suggested a crust suffused with ginger and cardamom. We agreed that we needed a team name as well. The pineapple evoked a tropical theme and remembering a stash of pirate paraphernalia, we became the “Pineapple Pirates” a.k.a. “The Whisking Wenches.”

The morning of the competition we met early in the High Road kitchen to make our cobbler. Two other teams converged upon the galley at the same time each vying for use of counter space and equipment. I set to work trimming and chopping pineapple while Chef and her assistant (and daughter) Kora set about making the crust. The cut pineapple went into a huge pot (I mean really huge!) on an equally size gas flame to caramelize a bit before the other ingredients were added. We added a splash of rum to the filling too – we were pirates after all! Working under time constraints, we assembled two commercial-size baking dishes using our hands to pat out the crust, as there was no rolling pin in sight. The generously sized confections went into the oven and we turned our focus on setting up our table.

We decorated our table in full pirate regalia replete with flags and treasure while we waited for the cobbler to cook. Once the bubbling cobbler came out of the oven, it had only a few short minutes to cool before guests lined up to taste our odd sounding concoction we were serving with High Road Fleur de Sel ice cream. The competition was fierce with Deb Wise of Cooking Light, Tony Patton of Nashville’s Whiskey Kitchen, Kamal Grant, of Sublime Doughnuts, Anna Gatti of Canvas Foods and Kyle Anderson of Hyatt Regency as competing chefs and with fellow food bloggers Linda Carmical of Do.Food.Better, Gisela Carapaica of Sprinkles & Tiaras and Michelle Valigursky of Savor the Salt competing as amateurs on the teams. There were several different variations on peach cobbler like peach-blueberry, peach-blackberry and peach-rhubarb as well as a mixed berry cobbler competing with our cobbler creation. The voting was done digitally so the suspense kept building while we all continued to serve our cobbler and dance to the Eighties soundtrack in the background.

Finally, the time came for the winner to be announced. We gathered around our nearly empty pans to hear the announcement of the winning team… “And the winner of the First Annual High Road cobbler completion is Black Pepper Pineapple & Cranberry!” All the hard work paid off! The Pineapple Pirates had prevailed! After cleaning up and saying our goodbyes, we all packed up and headed home exhausted, a little sunburned, and stuffed full of cobbler and ice cream!

It is with great pleasure that Chef Kathleen and I share our winning cobbler recipe with you. So without further adieu:

Cardamom & Ginger Pie Dough
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons chopped candied ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon ground cardamom
12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/4 cup chilled water
2 tablespoons cold whole milk, plus extra for brushing
Granulated sugar for sprinkling

In mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients (flour, salt, sugar, cardamom and ginger). Mix to thoroughly combine. Slowly cut in butter until small pea-size balls are formed. Drizzle in water and milk. Mix until dough starts to come together. Do not over mix.

Divide the dough into 2 balls. Put the dough in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes to an hour while you prepare the filling.

Black Pepper Pineapple & Cranberry Filling
1 stick of salted butter
1 fresh pineapple, cut into 1” cubes
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 cup pineapple juice
11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla paste
11/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1 cup whole cranberries
¼ cup dark rum (optional, but Arrrgh!)

In a large pan over medium heat, melt the butter and add pineapple, cooking until juices start to form. Add the sugar and brown sugar, vanilla, 1½ cup of the pineapple juice and black pepper, and then cook for about 20 minutes until pineapple is tender. Now it is time to add the cranberries, if added earlier they would turn the entire filling a brilliant pink.

Once the mixture returns to a boil, add the cornstarch that has been mixed with the remaining ½ cup pineapple juice to form a slurry. Cook until the starch is fully incorporated, and then pour in the rum. Cook for an additional 5 minutes. Filling should look clear and thickened. Pour the filling into a large greased baking dish.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Roll the dough out to cover your filling. Brush with milk and dust with sugar. Remember to place your baking dish on a baking sheet to catch any filling that may spill over the edges. Bake until golden brown and bubbles form and come out the sides; about 30-40 minutes.

Let the cobbler rest for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with ice cream or whipping cream.