A Gift of Hearts

A year before my mother died 25 years ago she gave me a small jam jar filled with cinnamon candy hearts.

Candy hearts are a key ingredient in her Cinnamon Cherry Cobbler, the dessert we had every year on February 23rd for Dad's birthday. They give both an intense flavor and color to the cobbler.

A couple of years ago, when I created Mom's cookbook, I finished up the last of that small jar... they were practically vintage. I was amazed that they were still good; I had to wonder what the heck is in them?

I needed to replenish the supply, but couldn’t find them in Tucson. I put out an all points bulletin: where can I buy cinnamon candy hearts?

I got two responses in the mail: a package from my niece, Casi, with several bags of hearts; and one from my friend (more like sister), Laura, with five pounds of them!

I am set for life.

Last week, we went to Laura and Arch's for dinner - daughter Hope was to be there - and it was high time they all benefited from her gift of hearts. I made them the cinnamon cherry cobbler.

This is not a traditional cobbler. It isn't just a biscuit dough on top of fruit. It is a combination of sour/tart cherries mixed with the cinnamon candy hearts, sugar and some cornstarch, topped with  pecan-cinnamon rounds, and drizzled with a lemony glaze.

It is perfection. And ice cream on top isn't necessary. We tried it that way and it really takes away from the cobbler.

So, with my brothers and my family, we raise a fork to Mom - the best cook in the world, and to Dad - for always wanting cherry cobbler for his birthday. (I hope you didn't miss the fact that his birthday is the day after George Washington's... You know, cherry tree, axe, etc.?)

And to Casi and Laura, thanks for my lifetime supply! I love you both, and love that we all enjoy cooking, whether together or from afar.

- David

Cinnamon Cherry Cobbler

1 can red tart pitted cherries, in water
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cinnamon candy hearts
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
4 tablespoons butter, chilled
1 slightly beaten egg
2-4 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Place a wire mesh sieve over a small saucepan and drain the cherries, reserving the cherry juice from the can in the saucepan. Add the sugar, cinnamon candies, cornstarch, and water to the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the cinnamon candies are melted and the sauce thickens. It should be somewhat opaque and will coat the back of a wooden spoon. Stir in the drained cherries, and pour into 8-inch square or 9-inch round baking pan. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Whisk together the flour with the baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add 3 tablespoons brown sugar and the chopped pecans. Cut in chilled butter until particles are fine. Combine the egg and 2 tablespoons milk; add to flour mixture, mixing until all dry particles are moistened, adding a few more drops of milk if necessary to make a good dough (up to 2 tablespoons more). Roll out on a well-floured board to a 14-inch by 12-inch rectangle. Brush with melted butter. Combine the remaining 3 tablespoons brown sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle evenly over dough. Roll the dough up, starting with 12-inch side. Cut into 16 even slices, and arrange slices on top of the cherry filling. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

While it is baking, whisk together the confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice. Remove cobbler from oven and drizzle with the glaze while still warm.

Serves 8.


  1. A beautiful story David, I love that you wrote gift of hearts, because it really was that, not only your mom´s but those who sent you the packages. And this recipe is another gift from the heart, so gorgeous, I wish I could see it unmolded! I have a jar of same funny colored cherries in my fridge, but also fresh cherries. I love this season! By the way my ex-hubby´s b-day is the same as your dad...

  2. Now that's a cobbler with a difference. It's almost like yeast-free chelsea buns on a cobbler. Nice touch with the candy hearts!

  3. Paula - you know, my mother never un-molded the cobbler - but that is a great idea. I am making it again for dinner with friends on Saturday so I will try it and let you know how it looks!

    John - I have never head of the Cheslea buns, but I am sure that I would love them!

  4. Somebody is lucky next Saturday...

  5. How amazing is this cobbler! and i love the story of your mom and the cinnamon hearts - so sweet. i am crazy about spicy cinnamon flavors... i'd probably throw in a few hot tamales too! :)

    Cheers to your mom. Best,

  6. Jill - I wonder who?

    Ahu - I love hot tamales - and anything cinnamon, too!

  7. OOh I wish we could get sour cherries in Australia! How wonderful that you now have a lifetime supply of the cinnamon hearts to make this cobbler :)

  8. Anna - I didn't know it was hard to get sour cherries elsewhere. Finally my local grocery started to carry them!

  9. Popping over to say hello, because Young mentioned that you are a fellow blogger. What beautiful food photography! I am off for a trawl through your archives, look forward to reading more... Ruth x

  10. Thanks, Ruth! I am glad you like the blog and hope you will be a regular visitor! I very much look forward to meeting you in person some day. And now I am off to check out your blog. Happy New Year! xox


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