Josie A.G. Shapiro's Blackberry Cardamom Cobbler
Josie A.G. Shapiro's Blackberry Cardamom Cobbler

Become a potluck hero with butter cake and berry cardamom cobbler

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My husband coined a new term this spring after our daughter’s second-grade class potluck: Shame Claim.

Perhaps you’ve experienced the potluck Shame Claim. It’s when you return to the community table at the end of the event, and your dish is virtually untouched. Those who have experienced this are most likely familiar with the humiliation of trying to cover the dish with torn tinfoil so no one sees you walk out with the evidence.

There are two branches of Shame Claim, the flavor branch and the visual branch. I hope my Shame Claim was the latter, and that the dish remained untouched just because it looked unappealing.

My husband promises me that was the case, and stoically volunteered to eat it in lunch portions the next week to prove it. But still, the experience shook me and made me revisit my make-it-in-advance culinary game plan. From now on, I’m abandoning congealed dressings and discolored herbs, and embracing dessert.

Whether bringing food to Shabbat dinner, a bris or offering condolences as a friend sits shiva, perhaps you, like me, will benefit from one of these easy-to-make, shareable summer sweets. I promise, all you’ll take home are crumbs.

The first recipe is courtesy of my mother, Margie Gelb, who convinced the chef at Café Rouge in Berkeley to write it down for her back in 1997.


Brown Butter Cake with Strawberries

Serves 8-10

½ cup unsalted butter
3 eggs, preferably at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup flour
Pinch of salt
Strawberries and cream to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 8-inch cake pan by cutting a round of parchment paper to fit the bottom of pan. Grease pan and parchment.

Cut the butter into pieces. Melt over medium heat. When the bubbles get small and the butter turns light brown, watch it like a hawk until it turns golden brown. Don’t let it burn. Remove from heat and pour into glass measuring cup to cool, including all the brown bits.

While butter cools, whisk the eggs in a stand mixer for a few seconds. Add sugar and whisk at high speed for 3 minutes until the eggs have tripled in volume and are light yellow. Add vanilla and mix. Remove bowl from mixer, sprinkle flour and salt on top of batter and using a rubber spatula, gently fold flour into eggs. Slowly pour cooled butter into batter and fold in carefully but completely.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Place in the middle of preheated oven and bake 25-30 minutes. The top should be firm to the touch. Remove cake from oven, use a small knife to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Let it cool for 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto flat surface. Wrap tightly until ready to serve. Serve with strawberries and cream.


Blackberry Cardamom Cobbler

Serves 8-10

5 cups blackberries
⅔ cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs. lime juice
2 Tbs. cornstarch
1⅓ cups flour
⅓ cup rolled oats
3 Tbs. white sugar
3 Tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. ground cardamom
1 stick salted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine blackberries with ⅔ cup granulated sugar. In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in lime juice. Add slurry to blackberries and stir blackberries thoroughly and gently. Transfer to deep-dish glass pie pan. In a clean, dry bowl, mix together flour, rolled oats, white sugar, brown sugar, baking powder and cardamom. Using a fork, stir in melted butter. Sprinkle topping on blackberries. Place pie pan on a tinfoil-covered baking sheet (this will catch messy drippings) and bake 40-50 minutes until topping is brown and filling bubbles. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Josie A.G. Shapiro

Josie A.G. Shapiro won the 2013 Man-O-Manischewitz Cookoff and is the co-author of “The Lazy Gourmet.”