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Crisps, slumps, pandowdies, grunts, cobblers, fools. In the fruit dessert category you'll find all sorts of names depending on the specific cooking method. Some of these names are pretty obscure, and clearly not appealing. When I realized that my recipe goal of creating a stovetop version of the familiar baked cherry cobbler would actually classify it as a grunt, I sighed.
Who would even know what a grunt is? Anyhow, I went ahead with the plan to turn my baked fruit and biscuit dessert into an easy one-pot-stovetop dessert. Now that I've made one, I don't know why it took me so long. A fruit grunt is juicy and delicious, with the moistest biscuit dumplings you'll ever find. Not only is a grunt time saving (simmered fruit is faster than baked), but it frees up the oven, a most valuable piece of real estate come holiday time.
The process is easy and can be used to turn virtually any cobbler into a grunt. Just soften and cook the fruit in a pot on the stove and cook the biscuits by steaming them on top of the fruit. That's it. The cooking method technically renames the biscuits into dumplings, but the fluffy texture remains the same.
I start by making a basic biscuit dough. A bit of butter cut into some flour, some milk to combine, a bit of baking powder, salt, sugar, and vanilla, and that's it. Just don't overmix it.
For the cherries, I start with frozen fruit. Unless you have access to fantastic in-season sour cherries, frozen fruit is better and luckily, it's in season year-round. A typical grunt does not have thickener. This makes sense because the fruit is not stirred as the topping cooks, and a thicker mixture would burn on the bottom of the pot. Still, I like the texture you get with just a touch of cornstarch, which adds a little body to the cherry liquid without the risk of it burning.
Once the cherry mixture is done, I drop pieces of the biscuit dough right on top (just like you would for chicken and dumplings). Slap on a lid quick, because you want an all around hot and steamy environment in order for the dumplings to rise properly and cook through evenly. Resist the temptation to peek too often or you'll let the heat out. A clear glass lid comes in handy here. Cook just until the dumplings are set, about 25 minutes.
And that's it, we're ready to serve. Scoop the dumplings into bowls and spoon the cherries over the top. The slight amount of thickener results in bright, clear cherry flavor and the juicy liquid is sopped up by the buttery soft-crumbed dumplings.
As for what to tell your guests when you serve it? Do yourself a favor and just call it a stovetop cobbler. A grunt by any other name would taste as sweet.