Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Stone fruit cobbler in mason jars

In the attempt to reduce my sizable peach loot last week, I prepared a cobbler for a dinner party at my friends' house, based on this recipe from the sweet food blog "Eat the Love". The peaches were joined by a couple of apricots and a nectarine, which were left over from our camping trip and consequently impressed more with their inner beauty than their looks.

Instead of preparing the Cobbler in a large baking dish, I made individual portions in half pint mason jars. This way they're easy to transport and great for parties or picnics, since you can eat directly out of the jar, all you need is a spoon (well, and maybe a dollop of whipped cream). In addition, it keeps things exciting in the kitchen, since the manufacturer and lots of folks online strongly recommend against using mason jars as baking vessels, unless perhaps used in a water bath and below 325 degrees. Otherwise, you risk the jars exploding from oven heat, which could be dangerous and at the very least quite unpleasant (imagine trying to remove glass shards covered in sticky fruit juices from your oven).

However, with a bit of research I found quite a few success stories about using mason jars for baking in the oven (on both sides of the Atlantic, for example here, here, here and here) and got to work. I made 1/3 of the amount of the original recipe, and divided it into 7 half pint mason jars. I placed the jars on a baking sheet with a fairly tall rim, which should have contained any messes, and lined the sheet with a silicon mat to keep the jars from sliding around on their way in and out of the oven. I baked them at 375 degrees, which is a bit lower than what the recipe stated, but higher than what was recommended for the jars.

The cobblers came out beautifully, and positively free of any explosions, shards or cracks. The 375 degrees heat were enough to give the top a nice golden crust, with the sweet and bubbly fruit cooked perfectly right underneath. Since they were still a bit warm when we left for the party, I used parchment paper to cover the jars instead of the screw-on lids, to avoid condensation on the inside. Before eating, we put a bit of whipped cream on top of each: divine!

If you can't wait to try this yourself, please be advised: given the safety concerns about jars cracking from the oven heat, I can't generally recommend baking in mason jars. It should be done at your own risk and with caution. (Personally, though, I will definitely try it again.)

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