Sunday, June 14, 2009

Life Is Just a Chair of Bowlies

Does anyone remember that Mary Engelbreit book? This dessert reminds me of that book - light, simple, and cheerful. For the last couple of weeks I've seen and heard so much about these French clafoutis that I decided to give it a try. Cherries are in season (and imported from the US if that isn't irony kicking me in the pants) and available at most of the markets and in little fruit stands around the city. The rest of the recipe calls for pantry basics so I was able to put it together with great ease.

What is a clafoutis? To be honest, before I made the dessert I had no idea. I knew it had cherries usually but that's it. It turns out that a clafoutis is a mix between a custard and a souffle. The texture is dense and slightly mushy so it may not be popular with everyone. The top gets a little caramelized and is my favorite part as the cherries float to the top. Usually, the clafoutis is topped with some créme fraîche or whipped cream. I made a lightly whipped cream to go on ours. The recipe was great but I made a few adjustments. I reduced the sugar by 1/4 and it was still plenty sweet. I also reduced the amount of almond extract as I didn't want it to be overpowering. Traditionally, the cherry pits are left in the clafoutis. From what I hear, the pits when cooked with the cherries let out an intense almond flavor that really enhances the depth of the dish. However, Boyfriend tends to eat very fast and the last thing we need is yet another trip to the dentist to replace a broken tooth. So, I pitted mine but I am very curious to try it with the pits in.

Before I get on with the recipe, I have to say that pitting cherries without a pitter is a major pain in my behind. Also, it's not very productive. I have no control when it comes to cherries so for every couple of cherries I pitted, I treated myself to one. The process was slow and I ran the risk of eating all the cherries fresh. But if you have a pitter, you have some element of self control, and you like desserts of a different texture the cherry clafoutis is for you.

Cherry Clafoutis
Recipe adapted from Garrett McCord

2 cups of fresh sweet cherries, pitted
2 tablespoons of slivered almonds
3 eggs
3/4 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour, sifted
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of whole milk
2 teaspoons of Amaretto -or- 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, 175 degrees C. Lightly butter and flour a 9X9 or 10X7 baking dish. Toss in the cherries and slivered almonds and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, flour, sugars, and salt until smooth. Add the milk, almond and vanilla extracts and whisk again until smooth. Pour the batter over the cherries and the almonds and bake in the oven for about 40 - 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Mine took a little longer to reach that point - around 55 minutes. The clafoutis will be slightly jiggly and that's normal. The clafoutis will deflate as it cools.

Let the clafoutis cool until lukewarm and serve with some créme fraîche or whipped cream. I whipped 1/4 cup of whipping cream with 1 tbs of powdered sugar and 1/4 tsp of almond extract until very soft peaks formed.

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