You may remember the phenomenon that was — is — the Patti LaBelle sweet potato pie.
The dessert available at Walmart under the Patti’s Good Life line received more than a little boost last year when James Wright Chanel posted a video review (seen more than 5 million times on YouTube) in which he punctuated his commentary and bites with musical interludes of LaBelle lyrics.
But, girrrrrrrl (Chanel favored a less family-friendly epithet), Patti’s new fruit cobblers kind of have us singin’ the blues.
Let’s get to the good news first. There is real fruit in these cobblers, which come in apple, peach and berry varieties. You can see the pieces, and there are a lot of them. (In fact, 6.4 million pounds of peaches will go into that cobbler this season, Walmart says.) The cobblers, priced at $6.98, are being produced by Twin Star Bakery out of Houston; they will start showing up at stores this week and debut nationwide Sept. 2.
In appearance, they walk that fine line between homespun and professional, neat but not cookie-cutter (cobbler-cutter?). Moreover, the nutritional label, in terms of big-word ingredients and calories (240 to 280 per serving), is much less scary than those of many other mass-produced desserts.
At Walmart, the pre-baked cobblers will be sold fresh in the bakery, but samples provided to us by the company came frozen, meaning we had to reheat ours for about 40 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees, vs. the 12 to 16 recommended on the package. When we pulled the cobblers out, the fillings were enticingly bubbling around the edges. So far, so good.
First we cut into the berry, which included raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and boysenberries. We liked the filling on this one the most, even if it was too gelatinous, because you could really taste the different berries, and there was a decent balance between tart and sweet. Sadly, the crust — the cobblers have pastry on both the bottom and top — was pale, crumbly and possessing an off flavor we couldn’t quite place.
Still, “If I didn’t have time to make something,” one taster said, shrugging, “I would serve this.”
The situation reversed on the remaining two cobblers. Both the peach and apple had better crusts, which were darker and flakier. But the fillings — oh, the fillings. They were really, really sweet, and the peach seemed a bit too heavy on the cinnamon. The apple particularly reminded us of an Entenmann’s apple puff or McDonald’s apple pie.
Could serving the cobblers with ice cream “for an extra special treat,” as suggested on the packaging, have masked some of these flaws? Probably.
The cobblers aren’t the only additions to the Patti’s Good Life line, which already includes a vanilla pound cake and caramel cake. Two other products debuting next week: an apple pecan cake ($9.98) and sweet potato loaf ($4.48), the latter of which will be available only in some Northeast stores.