Michael Donahue's Best Bets: Mango-Orange Cobbler


Jenny Dempsey's home-made mango-orange cobbler and home-made vanilla ice cream at McEwen's. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Jenny Dempsey's home-made mango-orange cobbler and home-made vanilla ice cream at McEwen's.

Just the word “cobbler” — as in blackberry, peach, and apple — makes me hungry. That crust mixed with fruit is tantalizing.

I’ve eaten all types of cobblers. I once made a blackberry cobbler using Bisquick. You mix all the ingredients together and the crust rises to the top while it’s cooking. I love that one, too.

But I tried a brand-new cobbler the other night at McEwen’s. It was a mango-orange cobbler. As we used to say in the ‘60s, it blew my mind. It was fabulous.

McEwen’s pastry chef Jenny Dempsey created the cobbler two weeks ago.

First, a little history about Dempsey. A native of Hollywood Beach, Florida, Dempsey first went to work at McEwen’s in 2005, but left after a while and worked at other Memphis restaurants. She helped Jose Gutierrez open the old Encore restaurant in the Peabody. She also worked at Bari Ristorante, Beauty Shop, and Mollie Fontaine Lounge before returning to McEwen’s seven years ago.

“The first cobbler I ever made was with Jose Gutierrez,” Dempsey says. “Pear or pear apple.”

She loved making cobblers. ‘It’s an easy Southern dessert and there are so many variations.”

Over the years, Dempsey made numerous cobblers, including pear, blueberry, blackberry, blueberry-blackberry, peach, apple, and mango,

She loves mango, so she suggested making a mango cobbler with some chiles and cinnamon, but she was told that might not sell. So, she took mango and orange zest and came up with the mango-orange cobbler.

“I usually don’t eat my desserts. I’ve been doing them so long I know what works.

But, she tried some of her newest one. “That mango and orange go so well together.”
It’s actually a simple dessert to make. The crust, she says, is just a shortbread made with butter, sugar, and flour.

She also makes her own cream-based ice cream with eggs, which is a perfect accompaniment to the cobbler.

Dempsey rotates cobblers, but the mango-orange now is available. If you want a particular cobbler, you can call and she'll make it on her next batch.

A chocolate cobbler is on Dempsey's radar. A friend made a killer one, but she doesn’t have his recipe. So, she’s going to have to come up with one. I can’t wait.

But now I want Dempsey to make that mango cobbler with the chiles and cinnamon. That sounds so good to me.

McEwen’s is at 120 Monroe; (901)-527-7085

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