July 25, 2010


Admit it.  Lately you hear about clafoutis everywhere.  Friends, coworkers, even the free newspaper you read on the way to work… everyone is talking about this French custardy dessert.  Honestly, I really didn’t have a desire to try it.  I’m a staunch opponent of fruit in dessert.  Fruit pies, fruit tarts, fruit crumbles?  No, thank you.  To me, dessert is the one excuse to eschew anything even remotely resembling something healthy.  Sorry, apples, berries and the like, you’re not welcome on my after dinner plate.

Or so I had always affirmed, until I found myself with an overflowing bowl of cherries that were rapidly reaching the end of their lifespan.  So yesterday the bowl of cherries and I had a meeting of the minds.  We declared a truce.  The cherries agreed to be surprisingly wonderful in a dessert and I agreed to eat it.

I also agreed to embrace the ubiquitous clafoutis movement and give it a go.  Since I had not attempted clafoutis before, I relied upon Epicurious to guide me.  The verdict?  Delectable!  Fruit and dessert can exist harmoniously!  A new world is waiting for me to explore.  That’s right, I’m talking to you, pies, cobblers and parfaits.

How would I describe clafoutis?  The texture is similar to a flan, but a bit firmer.  The custardy presence of eggs is unmistakable, while the ground almonds give an unexpected crunch.  Together with the soft texture of the cherries, it becomes a refreshing delight, especially when served chilled.  It would be equally as delicious, I’m sure, with any fruit of your choice.  And now that I’ve been converted, I’d love to hear your suggestions for my next fruit adventure.

Modified from Bon Appétit
3 cups cherries, pitted
½ cup sugar plus 1 tbs sugar, separated
1 tsp cornstarch
1/3 cup all purpose flour
¼ cup almonds
1 cup half and half
¼ cup butter, melted
½ tsp grated orange peel
½ tsp grated lemon peel
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Combine the cherries, 1 tbs sugar and cornstarch in a bowl.  Toss well to evenly distribute the sugar and cornstarch.  Set aside for a few minutes.  Blend the almonds and flour in a food processor just until the nuts are finely chopped.  Set aside. 

Evenly place the cherries in the bottom of a buttered 1½ quart baking dish or 9-inch pie plate.  Alternatively, you could just dump the cherries into the baking dish, taking care NOT to also pour the juices that accumulated at the bottom of the bowl.

In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt and ½ cup sugar until well mixed.  Add the flour mixture, whisking just until barely combined.  Add the half and half, butter, citrus peels and extracts.  Whisk until incorporated.  Pour the custard over the cherries.  Bake for one hour, or until golden brown and the center is set.  Serve warm or chilled.  Yum!

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