Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Life Is A Bowl Of Cherries - Cherry Clafoutis, That Is.

After finding some lovely cherries at Tarheel Produce,
I donned my thinking toque
and decided to make a cherry clafoutis.

 "Rosie, what is a clafoutis," you ask?  Well, I'll tell you.  A clafoutis is a classic French, rustic dessert, hailing from the south/central Limousin region of France and dating back to the 1800s.
Cherries are the traditional fruit used, but you could substitute other fruits - plums, blackberries, pears, apricot, whatever, but then, technically, you'd have a flognarde, not a clafoutis.

I always like to know, if possible, the history of whatever I'm eating - its provenance, so to speak, and the Limousin has an interesting story in that one can prepare an entire meal from Limousin and its capital, Limoges.  Limousin has some of the best beef farming in the world - Limousin cattle - so you could have a nice steak from highly prized Limousin cows, served on exquisite Limoges porcelain.  Your dessert, of course, would be clafoutis aux cerises.  Your meal would not be complete without a nice cognac, aged in oak barrels fabricated from the highly distinctive oaks from the forests of Limousin.  The house of Remy Martin has exclusive rights to the prized Limousin oaks, the most expensive in the world, for its barrels in which to age cognac.  And your scintillating dinner conversation could revolve around the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) and one of the great military atrocities of the medieval period, specifically the Limoges massacre, orchestrated by Edward, the "Black Prince" of Wales, in which 3000 defenseless Limoges citizens, men, women, and children, were slain.

Now, back to the clafoutis.

 Basically, a clafoutis is a dessert, hovering between a cake and a custard,  with a batter poured over cherries in a buttered baking dish.  Traditionally, the cherries are unpitted.  And there's a reason for this. The pits contain a substance called amygdalin, a naturally occurring chemical compound which imparts an almond taste, enhancing the dish's flavor. The flavoring is released into the custard of the clafoutis when baked.   In addition, I'm basically lazy, so the no-pitting thing works very well in the interest of the authenticity of the dish.  That said, here's my Clafoutis Aux Cerises.

 Clafoutis Aux Cerises or Cherry Clafoutis
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
6 TB unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
(plus more to butter the pan)
1 cup flour 
pinch kosher salt
7 oz. skim milk
1 oz. heavy cream
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 TB Kirsch, or cherry liqueur
2 cups cherries, stemmed but not pitted

Rosie Note:  
 You could use 1 cup whole milk in place of the skim and cream.
I never have whole milk on hand, 
so I always use a combination of skim and cream to approximate.

Heat oven to 400°.
Whisk eggs together with sugar until light in color. 
Gradually whisk in butter.
Add in flour and salt and continue mixing
until flour is incorporated.
Slowly pour in milk and cream mixture,
a little at a time,
then the extract and liqueur,
mixing well, until batter is smooth.

Place cherries in a buttered 9-inch cake pan.
Pour batter over the cherries 
and bake 25 or so minutes until lightly browned 
and almost set in the middle.
Let sit for 10-15 minutes before slicing into wedges.

 Cover bottom of buttered pan with unpitted, stemmed cherries.

 Mix batter until smooth and pour over top.

 Bake until golden.


 Watch out for pits.

Now, if you'd like a bit of cherry sauce
to spoon over your clafoutis
or even over a scoop of vanilla ice cream,
I've got you covered there too.
Sauce Aux Cerises or Cherry Sauce
 1 cup cherries, pitted and chopped
1 TB butter
1 TB sugar
2 tsp orange zest
2 tsp Kirsch (cherry liqueur)
 2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup water
Melt butter in small sauce pan over low heat.
 Add sugar and stir until dissolved.
Add cherries, zest, and liqueur.
Combine cornstarch and water to make a slurry
and pour in, stirring, until mixture thickens.
Spoon hot sauce over clafoutis and/or ice cream.


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