Inspired by a whiskey sour cocktail, which uses a maraschino cherry as its garnish, whiskey, lemon juice and cherry bitters combine to amplify the flavor of cherries in a simple, intoxicating cobbler. Typically made with biscuit dough on top, this cobbler is covered with strips of frozen pie pastry, giving the final dish plenty of crusty, craggy and crunchy pieces to contrast with the soft, bubbling, sweet fruit beneath. Prepare the pastry strips up to 1 week ahead of time, so all you have to do on the day of is break them over the fruit filling and get the whole thing in the oven. Turbinado is easy to find in grocery stores — look for it right next to the granulated sugars — but if you don’t already have it or want to buy it, simply substitute it with the same weight or volume of granulated sugar. And if you don’t want to pit the cherries, there is an alternative. I approve of using canned or jarred cherries, which are already pitted.
Working on a floured surface, roll the dough disk into a large rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. Using a pizza cutter or a long sharp knife, cut the dough in any direction into 2-inch-wide strips. Transfer the strips to a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and freeze until solid, at least 1 hour or for up to 2 days.
In a large bowl, whisk together the cherry jam, turbinado sugar, whiskey, cornstarch, vanilla and salt. Using a Microplane set over the bowl, remove the zest from the lemon so that it falls into the bowl. Juice the lemon, and pour 1 tablespoon juice into the bowl. Stir in the cherry bitters, then add the sour cherries and stir until well coated.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Stir the cherries once more to ensure the filling is well mixed, then scrape it into a 9-by-13-inch or similar-sized oval baking dish, spreading the filling evenly over the bottom.
Remove the frozen pastry strips from the freezer and use your hands to break them into rough 2-inch pieces, scattering them randomly over the cherry filling as you go but ensuring that most of the filling gets covered by the time all the pieces are added; reserve the parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the pastry pieces liberally with more turbinado sugar, then sprinkle with a large pinch of flaky sea salt.
Transfer the baking dish onto the reserved lined baking sheet, then place in the oven and bake until the pastry is golden brown all over and the filling is bubbling in the center, 1 hour and 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the cobbler from the oven and let it stand for about 10 minutes. Serve while piping hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Basic Pie Pastry Dough
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and use your fingers to pinch and rub it into the flour repeatedly until pea-size crumbles form. Pour in the water and use a fork to toss (not stir) the butter-flour mixture until it’s evenly moistened.
Scrape the crumbly mass onto a clean work surface and pat and smush gently until it starts to form a solid piece of dough. Cut the dough in half, then flatten each piece into a disk, patting the edges to smooth them. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
After 2 days, freeze the pastry to store long-term, letting it thaw for 1 day in the refrigerator before using.
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