Tuesday, February 24, 2009

White House Pastry Chef Bill Yosses: The Recipe For White House Cobbler

After the posts about First Lady Michelle Obama and President Obama's dinner in honor of the National Governors Association, Ob Fo got a ton of emails that were all about one thing: White House Pastry Chef Bill Yosses's featured dessert, Huckleberry Cobbler with Caramel Ice Cream. All of the e mails had three questions: 1) What the heck is a Huckleberry? 2) Do you have the Huckleberry Cobbler recipe?! 3) Do you have the Caramel Ice Cream recipe?

The first question is easy. Huckleberries are a wild, non-cultivated berry, native to North America. They come in a variety of shades, from red to blue, and the blue ones are often called, simply, "Blueberries." Huckleberries, like Blueberries, range in taste from tart to sweet. The name "Huckleberry" is widely used in North America for several plants in two closely related genera in the family Ericaceae: Gaylussacia and Vaccinium. Huckleberries are the state fruit of Idaho, and at the Kitchen Chat for the White House dinner, Chef Yosses said that the Huckleberries he was using came from Idaho. The two biggest differences between Huckleberries and Blueberries is that Huckleberries have resisted being domestically cultivated, and they also have far more seeds than Blueberries, which makes them difficult to eat--and a little difficult to cook with. Blueberries can be substituted in any recipe that calls for Huckleberries, with no change to the recipe. Swell, huh?

Interestingly, in an April, 2007 interview with the Toledo Blade, Chef Yosses told food editor Kathie Smith that Huckleberry Cobbler was one of President George W. Bush's fave White House desserts. Chef Yosses arrived at the White House in 2007, and had two years of sweetening the place before The Bushes helicoptered out on Jan. 20, 2009. While at the White House, he got much attention for creating beautiful desserts, in particular a white-chocolate covered Gingerbread House for Christmas 2007. Before that, he was a well-known Pastry Chef working in private practice, at new York/Connecticut restaurants. Also interesting? No one in the food world was demanding that Chef Yosses be replaced once the Obamas moved in, as was happening with Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford. Uh huh.

So does Ob Fo have the Huckleberry Cobbler recipe? Yes. So go climb Mount Hood, pick some Huckleberries, and get cookin'. Or you can use Blueberries... It's a very easy recipe.... (In pic: Chef Yosses points out desserts to First Lady Michelle Obama and Exec. Chef Cris Comerford, for the governors' dinner menu preview)

The Caramel Ice Cream recipe. The ice cream recipe from Chef Yosses is actually for Vanilla Ice Cream. Still, when presenting this recipe last year to CBS's The Saturday Early Show, Chef Yosses suggested all kinds of flavorings could be added in, from mint to lychee to almonds, for variation. You can swirl in 3 Tblsp Caramel to the recipe below, and have a perfectly lovely Caramel Ice Cream, right? It's a tiny change, but hey, change is what Barack is all about! You will, however, need an ice cream maker for the recipe, and if that's not in your own personal economic stimulus package, buy some nice Caramel Ice Cream at the market, to top your cobbler.

The White House Cobbler Recipe


3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup milk
2 cups Huckleberries or Blueberries (about 11 ounces)


Preheat oven to 375°F.

1. In an 8-inch square or other 2-quart baking dish, melt butter.

2. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg and stir in sugar until combined well.

3. Add milk and whisk batter until it is just combined.

4. Pour batter into melted butter; do not stir. Pour berries into center of batter; do not stir.

5. Bake cobbler in middle of oven 40 minutes, or until cake portion is golden and berries exude juices.

White House Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe, Caramel Edition


3 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
8 egg yolk
1 cup sugar
1 fresh vanilla bean
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tblsp Caramel


1. Boil milk and cream in a 2 quart pot with half the sugar, stirring to dissolve. Mix the other half of the sugar with the egg yolks. By hand, using a whisk, stir the yolks and ½ the sugar together for 2 minutes until the yolks whiten.

2. Be careful: When the milk and cream mixture comes to a boil pour it slowly over the egg yolk/sugar mixture, continue to whisk with the other hand while pouring the milk over the yolks so as not to curdle the eggs.

3. Once mixed, pour this back into the 2 qt pot and return to the heat again stirring continuously over medium heat for approximately 2 minutes. Drizzle in the 3 Tblsp of Caramel at this point, stirring continuously. Do not allow the mixture to boil. If you have a thermometer heat the mixture to 180degrees centigrade or until it thickly coats the back of a wooden spoon.

4. When thickened, pour the mixture through a fine sieve into a clean bowl and set over another bowl of ice to cool. Make sure it is cooled completely before putting it in to your ice cream maker.

5. Run the ice cream machine until the mixture is firm, then turn off the cold setting. Using a spatula, remove the ice cream from the hopper. Scrape down the sides.

6. Cover with plastic wrap and, obviously, put in to freezer until ready to use.

Serve a scoop of Caramel Ice Cream beside the Cobbler, preferably on your Lincoln china or your Shepard Fairey Obama china, and ponder hope and change....

*Pic at top of post is the menu for the National Governors Association dinner, with some demolished Huckleberry Cobbler. Photo of Mrs. Obama and WH Chefs via the White House.