Bitters are an alcoholic extract that are typically used as a cocktail flavoring. Originally developed as medicines and purported to have many curative effects, they made their way from the pharmacy to the bar when the term “cocktail” came into common use in the beginning of the 19th century, where cocktail was defined as a beverage which used a combination of spirits, sugar, water and bitters. Like vanilla extract, bitters use alcohol to extract the flavors from the botanicals that go into them. They’re typically made with a wide variety of spices, herbs, roots and other ingredients, which come together to form a very intensely flavored extract that is intended to be used only a few dashes at a time. As the name suggests, many bitters have a distinctly bitter note to them, but they can use dozens of ingredients and actually have very complex and layered flavor profiles.
These days, not all cocktails include bitters and, similarly, not all bitters need to be confined to the bar. These individual Angostura Cherry Cobblers are just one of many examples of how bitters can shine in the kitchen because I added a generous dash of Angostura bitters to my cobbler filling!! Angostura is one of the most widely recognized brands of bitters. The secret recipe for the brand’s aromatic was developed around 1820 and has remained unchanged ever since. You’ll pick up notes of allspice or clove and cinnamon in the bitters, along with many other flavors. These warm spices add a lot of depth to cocktails and they also add a lot to the cherries in this cobbler. The cherries are lush, spicy and much more complex than you would expect the cherries in an ordinary cobbler to be. The bitter notes of the bitters don’t overshadow the cherries, so don’t worry about that if you’re not very familiar with bitters!
The cobbler topping is a buttermilk and vanilla biscuit topping that would be delicious with almost any cobbler filling. By keeping the topping simple, the flavors in the filling stand out even more. I baked these as individual cobblers, dividing the cherries and topping equally between four ramekins. I didn’t quite use all the topping because I wanted to see a bit of the cherry bubbling up underneath it, but there is enough to completely cover all four servings. These cobblers are best when served slightly warm from the oven. You can serve them as-is or top them with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Angostura Cherry Cobblers
16-oz cherries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup sugar
5 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
coarse sugar, for topping
Preheat oven to 375F. Place four 8-oz ramekins on a baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, stir together all filling ingredients.
In a large bowl, prepare the topping. Stir together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Add in melted butter, buttermilk and vanilla extract and stir until dough comes together.
Divide cherry mixture evenly into prepared ramekins. Dollop topping (or use your fingers, if you don’t mind getting messy) mixture over the cherries. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until cherry filling is bubbling and topping is golden brown.
Allow cobblers to cool slightly before serving.