Recipe: cherry-almond clafoutis
[Thanks to 5280 Magazine for the shout out! I'm honored, even if you called my tone irreverent - which it is. When I first moved to Colorado, I thought 5280 was a truncated zipcode and it really puzzled the hell out of me. Congratulations to fellow blogger Rebecca Caro for making the list too.]
Strawberry who? I’m just joshin’ around. This house is still loving the strawberries, but now those shiny, luscious cherries are making their appearance in the markets. Consider me enamored. I associate summer with small fruits that stain your hands deep reds and purples. Messy and sweet. Summer equals berries. But wait – cherries are drupes.
a bowl of cherries sounds better than a bowl of drupes
We buy a lot of fruit on a regular basis – a rainbow of fruits. From our groceries, you’d think we are healthy eaters. That’s only a half-truth. Half of the fruit is for Jeremy because he’s fruitist. He discriminates against drupes… doesn’t like drupes. I married a guy who won’t eat plums, peaches, nectarines, mangoes (seriously?!), or cherries. I know I’m not the only food blogger who married a picky-picky. What is up with that? Okay, this was going somewhere… We don’t own a cherry pitter because I’m the only one who eats cherries. I recently made a Fine Cooking recipe that called for pitted cherries. In the back of the issue, they had some nice tips on how to pit them without a pitter, including one method which uses a straw.
i happen to have a nice metal straw
pierce the bottom with the straw, then push from the top
Ever seen The Witches of Eastwick? Cherry pits. The metal straw worked like a charm with only a couple of errant cherry pits flying into the dusty corners of the kitchen. When they’ve all been pitted, toss the cherries with some kirsch and let sit for a half hour while you prep the rest of the recipe.
spinkle the kirsch
toast the almonds while the cherries are getting sauced
I’ve learned over the years that toasting any sort of nut requires careful attention. These days, I don’t pop a baking sheet of almonds into the oven without setting a timer. I can’t tell you how many times I have burned a sheet of nuts. It hurts. It hurts in that $8.99 per pound kind of way. If I’m toasting something ridiculously expensive like macadamia nuts, I just stand there and stare at the oven until they are done.
mix the batter: eggs, milk, cream, sugar, salt, and almond extract
place cherries in baking dish(es) and pour batter
The recipe is quite straightforward: pit, soak, toast, mix, pour, sprinkle. It’s the first time I’ve ever made or tried a clafoutis. For reals. Over the past few years I’ve noticed clafoutis spring up on the food blogs the way columbines bloom in summer around here. Fruit and stuff – good stuff. I like fruit and stuff.
dot with some buttah
sprinkle powdered sugar before serving
There are times when you read a recipe and have a very good idea how it will come out. My brain was definitely someplace else (many places, actually) when I made this. I watched the clafoutis rise in the oven to heroic heights and worried that it would disembowel itself on my oven floor – not an uncommon thing at high altitudes. But it didn’t and when I let them cool on the rack, they de-puffed to something more familiar. What surprised me was the custardy egginess. It reminded me of a Yorkshire pudding dotted with cherries, but better. Fabulous.
serve warm or at room temperature
from Fine Cooking issue #105
1 lb. fresh sweet or sour cherries, pitted
1 1/2 tbsps kirsch (cherry brandy)
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1 1/2 tbsps unsalted butter (1/2 tbsp softened, cut into small pieces)
1 cup whole milk
3 oz. (2/3 cup) flour, sifted (I’m a lazy bum, I didn’t sift)
1/4 cup plus 1-2 tbsps sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
1/8 tsp pure almond extract
1/8 tsp salt
powdered sugar for serving
Preheat the oven to 350°F and set the rack in the center. Place the pitted cherries in a large bowl with the kirsch and toss them about every 5-10 minutes until they’ve been soaking for 30 minutes. Toast the almonds on a baking sheet until a light golden color. This takes about 3-4 minutes, but remember what I said about watching those almonds so they don’t burn! Remove the almonds from the oven and increase the temperature to 400°F. Butter the inside of your baking dish(es). The recipe calls for an 11-inch quiche dish. I used 4 small ramekin/quiche-like dishes. [If using sweet cherries, use 1/4 cup of sugar. If you have sour cherries, add another tablespoon of sugar to the 1/4 cup.] Mix the milk, flour, sugar, cream, eggs, almond extract, and salt together with a whisk attachment or a hand mixer on medium speed for 5 minutes (to incorporate a good amount of air into the batter). Drain off any liquid from the cherries into the batter (don’t drop the cherries in!). Set the cherries in the dish(es). Pour the batter over the cherries and bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle toasted almonds and remaining sugar (I remove the clafoutis from the oven to do this) over the tops and dot with pieces of butter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (35-40 minutes). The clafoutis will be puffed up and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for a half hour. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top and serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 6.