I have a small obsession with Mississippi made McCarty Pottery. I am sort of a latecomer to it. When I was of an age that all my friends were getting married, McCarty was on the top of everyone’s gift registry. But I just didn’t see it. Not my style, I thought, too rustic. But for my birthday, a generous friend gave me a beautiful jade platter and I was hooked. I went on a spree, searching out interesting pieces to add to my growing collection.
This all culminated in my first visit to the McCarty Pottery in Merigold, Miss. Merigold is a little hamlet of just a few streets, right off legendary Highway 61. Part of the pottery pilgrimage is a stop at the Gallery Restaurant. Hidden behind a wall of bamboo, the jewel box of a restaurant serves a set menu of simple dishes. Start with some hearty vegetable soup, chicken crepes, tomato pudding and spinach, all served on McCarty Pottery of course.
The kicker is dessert. A choice of caramel or chocolate cobbler. I chose the caramel, as I am wont to do, and ate every last bit of it drenched in vanilla ice cream. All the way home, driving through the flat Mississippi Delta with my new pottery pieces carefully tucked in the back of the car, I thought about that cobbler and how I could recreate it at home. I’ve been forced to go back just to try and get it right, and if I buy a few pieces while I’m there, who can blame me.
So here’s my attempt, and it’s a pretty good one too. I won’t say I got it exactly right, but this is a rich and homey dessert you won’t soon forget. I like to serve it in McCarty bowls, but that’s up to you.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1-/12 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons bourbon [editor's note: can omit]
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1-/12 cups boiling water
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the butter in a 9- by-13 inch baking dish and place in the oven until the butter melts, about 6 minutes.
2. While the butter is melting, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Mix the milk, bourbon [if using], and vanilla in a 2-cup measuring jug, then add to the dry ingredients and stir until smooth and combined. Carefully remove the baking dish from the oven and pour the batter over the melted butter. Do your best to distribute the batter evenly, but don’t worry about it covering the bottom of the dish.
3. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the top of the batter, then slowly pour over the boiling water. Do not stir, just carefully place the dish back in the oven.
4. Bake for 30 minutes until the batter is firm with craters of lovely caramel bubbling up through the top. Serve immediately with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Related post on The Runaway Spoon: Sweet potato cobbler