It seems that clafoutis is all the rage this year. Or maybe it seems that way to me since it has been on my mind (I even dreamt about it). I had the same experience when I was pregnant. It suddenly seemed that there was a baby-making contest in Seattle and every second woman on the street had entered....
Anyway, I was determined to make the best clafoutis there was out there. Thus began my studying of all the clafoutis recipes I could find.. in cookbooks, online, you name it. And for something that basically consists of eggs, dairy, and flour, there seemed to be a gazillion recipes for it. I concluded that there were really two types of clafoutis recipes - one that would result in a custardy pudding-cake like product; and one that would result in something more cake-like. I am no expert in the authentic French way, but I immediately knew that I would like the custardy one better. As goes authentic, I'm not even sure there is an 'authentic' recipe for a dessert that was probably whipped together in every french farm home, using the freshest fruit around.
I have been waiting for an excuse to make this for a couple of weeks now. I was really resisting the urge to make some just for our family, because I could just see myself eating way more than someone trying to fit into skinnier jeans should (or could or would). Luckily, I didn't need to agonize for too long - the perfect opportunity presented itself when we were invited to my friend Paula's house for dinner on Saturday and she asked me to bring dessert (YAY!).
I bought some uber-juicy and delicious local Bing cherries (grown in Yakima) from the Fruit Stand down the road from us and got to work on pitting them. I wanted to keep the cherries whole, so decided to pit them the non-gadget way using a plain old drinking straw. It is super easy and fun. Simply poke the straw in gently from the top. Then poke the straw firmly from the bottom and the pit pops out leaving a nice clean exit and entry hole in the cherry. No jagged edges here.
Ok, I know. I could always go out and get myself a $12 cherry pitter. I just haven't gotten around to it. Well, I do live reasonably close to Sur La Table (has to be one of my fave Kitchen Stores), but I know better. The $12 cherry pitter purchase will send me home with a $200 tab (I know very well from lots of experience). But I don't learn, 'coz I'm sure you will soon hear all about my cherry pitter shopping experience......
Oh! And guess what. I pitted a few dozen cherries and realized I was runnning pretty short on time. I have already read a lot about how the French don't pit the cherries for Clafoutis (the pits supposedly lend a nice almond flavor). So I figured! What the heck! I'll just be French and use whole unpitted cherries for the adults and use the pitted ones to make a couple individual clafoutis' for the kids (I sure did not trust R to not choke on a pit, or worse chip his baby teeth).
3 cups washed cherries, unpitted
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp amaretto liqeuer (my addition)
Preheat the oven to 375F. Beat the sugar and eggs with a whisk till they turn lighter in color. Gradually, add the butter and whisk to combine. Add all the flour in and whisk to mix briefly. Slowly add in the milk and mix. Add in the vanilla and amaretto. The batter should be smooth, homogenous, and shiny. Take care not to overmix.
Put the cherries in a buttered glass or ceramic pie dish or cake pan (reserve 5 -10 cherrries). I used a 9 inch ceramic pie dish. Pour the batter over the fruit. Place the reserved cherries on top of the batter (looks pretty this way). Bake 30-40 minutes, until golden brown and batter is almost completely set in the middle. (Note: Since I had to make a few individual ones for the kids, I borrowed some of the batter to pour into small ramekins)
Let sit 15-20 minutes before serving. The crust will deflate a bit, but don't worry (see below for the 'right out of the oven' look and the 'deflated/rested' look). You can serve the clafoutis warm or at room temperature. Leftovers are excellent the next day (tried and true).
Serve as is, with a dusting of powdered sugar. If you must, serve with ice-cream. In my opinion, the simplicity of this dessert is what makes it amazing. Ice-cream is just over-the-top and better saved for brownies or pie.
Sometimes very often less is more. Enjoy!
Oh! And please be nice and tell your guests that the cherries have pits in them. Orthodontics are expensive!