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Vanilla-Fig Skillet Cobbler with Spiced Shortbread Topping

Scott Phillips

Servings: 6 to 8

Toasted hazelnuts and warm spices give the cookie-like topping on this cobbler a deep, rich flavor that’s reminiscent of linzer cookies.


For the topping

  • 5-5/8 oz. (1-1/4 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 oz. (1/2 cup) finely ground toasted hazelnuts
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Pinch of ground white pepper (optional)
  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the filling

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 vanilla bean (about 5 inches long), halved lengthwise, seeds scraped out 
  • 2 lb. firm-ripe fresh figs, trimmed and halved (or quartered if large)

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 480
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 210
  • Fat (g): 24
  • Saturated Fat (g): 12
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1.5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 9
  • Cholesterol (mg): 115
  • Sodium (mg): 180
  • Carbohydrates (g): 66
  • Fiber (g): 5
  • Protein (g): 5


Make the topping

  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour, hazelnuts, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg (freshly ground is best), cloves, and white pepper (if using). Whisk until well blended.

  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Add the flour mixture and mix on medium-low speed until well blended, about 1 minute.

  • Lay a large piece of plastic wrap on the counter. Scrape the dough onto the plastic. Using the plastic as an aid, shape the dough into a 7-1/2-inch-long log. Wrap in the plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 4 hours.

  • Cut the chilled dough into ten 3/4-inch-thick slices, wrap, and refrigerate until ready to bake the cobbler.

Make the filling

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.
  • Put the sugar, flour, and salt in a 10-inch nonreactive, ovenproof skillet (8- to 10-cup capacity) and whisk until well blended. Add 1 cup water and the butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla bean halves and seeds. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and boil, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 1 minute. Cover and set aside off the heat to steep for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.

  • Return the syrup to a boil over medium-low heat. Add the figs and cook, tossing gently, until very hot and beginning to release their juice, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Assemble and bake

  • Spread the fruit into a relatively even layer. Arrange the topping slices randomly over the hot filling, leaving space between them.

  • Bake until the filling is bubbling and the topping is golden-brown (a toothpick inserted into a few pieces should come out clean), 25 to 35 minutes. Let sit about for 30 minutes to allow the filling to settle and thicken before serving.

Make Ahead Tips

The topping dough can be refrigerated, wrapped in plastic, for up to 2 days. Cut the dough into slices just before baking.


Cast iron skillets are great, but not for this cobbler; their reactive surface can lend a metallic taste to the finished cobbler. Stick with a nonreactive skillet, such as stainless steel or enamel-lined cast iron.


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