This cobbler took Chef Vivian Howard years to perfect—but it was time well spent. Ripe, macerated strawberries are topped with a sugar cookie crust that's enriched with cornmeal for extra crunch. (The strawberries can be easily swapped for peaches, blueberries, or apples!)
Strawberry Filling: To macerate the strawberries (a technique to release a fruit’s juices by mixing with sugar and resting), take half the strawberries and roughly slice them. Combine with remaining whole strawberries in a large mixing bowl. Add salt, sugar, and the zest and juice of two lemons. Stir to combine and set aside, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
Fit a strainer over a saucepan. Pour the strawberry liquid through the strainer and into the saucepan, reserving the strawberries. Over medium heat, bring liquid to a simmer. Continue simmering, stirring often, until liquid is reduced to a thin syrup that coats the back of a spoon, 5–10 minutes. Let rest while making crust. (Note: Syrup will continue to thicken as it cools.)
Sugar-Cookie Crust: In a mixing bowl, stir together flour, cornmeal, salt, and baking powder. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed, 30 seconds. Turn off mixer, lift paddle, and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase speed to high and continue creaming the butter-sugar mixture until it’s pale and fluffy, 2 more minutes. Turn mixer to low and slowly add dry ingredients, turning the mixer off to scrape the sides of the bowl halfway through. Crack the egg into a small bowl, to make sure no shell gets into the mixture; then add vanilla and egg to the mixer. Mix on medium speed until just combined. Chill 30 minutes. (Note: Crust can be made several days in advance, wrapped in plastic and chilled; bring to room temperature before using.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a baking dish. Spread strawberries in the dish in an even layer, then pour in syrup. Spread the crust over the strawberries in an even layer. Bake for 1 hour, or until crust is golden and fruit is bubbling. (Note: Depending on the size and shape of the baking dish, there might be leftover dough. For every 1½ inch of filling, there should be a ½-inch of topping. Use extra dough for a mini-cobbler or bake into sugar cookies.)
Remove cobbler from oven. The crust will look like a cookie, with the filling bubbling up through the craggy cracks. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.