room for dessert

Last night, inspired by a three-pound sack of sweet English peas from the farmers market, we gave the grill a rest.

We shelled and we shelled. For every two pods that we emptied into the bowl, we scraped one directly into our mouths with our teeth. It's possible that I have these numbers reversed. We had to keep our strength up, after all.

One of the nice things about a simple, pasta-and-salad meal is that it leaves room in your belly for dessert. Room for dessert is always a venerable goal. But it takes on special meaning when you're visiting Washington State in late June, and therefore swimming in a sea of just-picked cherries. At a stand by the side of the road, cherries were going for little more than a dollar a pound. A steal, people. We couldn't resist and, apparently, neither could our friends who drove up to visit us the following day. And that, dear reader, is how we ended up with not one, but two bursting bags of cherries on our hands. It was truly an embarrassment of riches.

The only sensible thing to do was to bake a clafoutis.

As far as I'm concerned, clafoutis is French for "throw some fruit in a dish and dump a bowlful of batter over top," because that's really all there is to it. The eggy batter puffs up while the clafoutis bakes, and then sinks back down and around the cherries as it cools. The result is something that more closely resembles a custard than a cake. If a dessert can be defined, in part, by its serving utensil, clafoutis is somewhat of an enigma: Its firm-yet-creamy consistency is equally suited to slicing and scooping. And the cherries? They burrow into the sweet, cushiony custard, release their juices and - all tuckered out, I suppose - slump lazily in their own private craters.

There was much bowl scraping, last night, and spoon licking today, after bites stolen directly from the fridge.

Cherry Clafoutis
Adapted from Garrett McCord via Simply Recipes

Traditional clafoutis is made with unpitted cherries because of the almondy flavor that the pits impart to the dish. I decided to pit the cherries, nevertheless. The original recipe calls for a 9x9 or 10x7 inch baking dish. I didn't have either on hand, so I used a 12-inch deep-dish pie plate. If you are not as fortunate as I am to have hit the cherry jackpot, you can make this clafoutis with raspberries, blueberries, plums, apricots, or peaches instead.

2-3 c. of fresh sweet cherries, pitted
3 eggs
1 c. sugar
1 T. brown sugar
1/2 c. all-purpose flour, sifted
1/8 t. salt
1 c. whole milk
2 t. Amaretto, or 1 t. almond extract
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
Powdered sugar for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and lightly flour the baking dish, and toss in the cherries.
2. Whisk the eggs, sugars, salt, and flour together until smooth.
3. Add the milk, almond extract or liqueur, and the vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth. Pour into the baking dish.
4. Bake for 40-50 minutes until lightly browned. It is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The finished clafoutis should still jiggle slightly in the dish.
5. Place the dish on a cooling rack. The clafoutis will deflate as it cools. I like to serve clafoutis slightly warm, with a dusting of powdered sugar on top.

Serves 6.


EEJ said...

This looks DELICOIUS. Will try to make it very soon.

slowlikehoney said...

I have a confession: I've never made clafouti before. Ever. I know! What is wrong with me?! I'm seriously getting on top of that situation ASAP.

EEJ said...

I have *also* never made it before. Wait. I *had* never made it before. Just tried this recipe - results look delicious (haven't tasted yet), but I think I overdid it on the berries (a mixture of black-, blue-, and raspberries), which resulted in soupiness that resulted in a LONG baking time. Also, I'm pretty sure it's time to invest in an oven thermometer, as I'm sure it's not hot enough. But! Yay for inspiration!

Rogue Unicorn said...

I just bought about a kilo and a half of cherries. Now I know what to do with them (besides eat them by the handful, that is.) Thanks. I'm so glad I found this site.

Laura said...

I have a wonderful recipe for Clafoutis.
We make it in bulk for Christmas with all the stone fruits that are finally in season here in New Zealand.
Clafoutis never ceases to amaze me, so easy and sooo delicious. My recipe uses Cointreau which adds a lovely orange flavour and helps cut the sweetness.
Cannot wait for Christmas so I can make the dessert!!!

Rose-Anne said...

Clafoutis is a seriously addictive dessert. My friend Ammie brought one to a potluck-style picnic, and almost everyone had a second helping, whether or not they really had room for it. But I say there's always room for clafoutis!

By the way, the clafoutis picture in this post made me smile! The proof is in the empty bowl!

Adrienne said...

Oh, my. "slump lazily in their own private craters" is exactly what cherries do in a clafoutis. What a lovely way with words you have :)

ann said...

I just yesterday realized I need to make a clafoutis. The cherries are beautiful and sweet and tiny this year. Must make clafoutis. And dammit I wish the deer hadn't gotten all our peas. Peas and pasta are so delicious together. Try tossing some shreds of soft butter lettuce in next time with just a hint of garlic and a whisper of lemon. Seriously delicious.

Kate @ Savour Fare said...

There's something particularly wonderful about clafoutis this time of year isn't there? I've made it with frozen cherries, but it's just not the same as fresh. Yours looks marvelous.

Jess said...

slowlikehoney - Well, consider this post your marching orders, then!

EEJ - You hopped right to it, didn't you! I can't take the suspense: Did you taste? Did you like? All of those berries sound good to me. After you washed them, did you dry them thoroughly before throwing them into the dish? Even with juicier berries, the result should still be custardy, not soupy. Did the clafoutis firm up in the end? You're right that investing in an oven thermometer is always a good idea.

Rogue Unicorn - Hello, and welcome! It's hard to beat cherries by the handful. My technique for enjoying the best of both worlds ("by the handful" and clafoutis) is to pop a few cherries in my mouth while I'm pitting them for the clafoutis. Maybe we can coin a new phrase: "Have your cherries and eat your clafoutis too?"

Laura - Thank you for that most excellent Cointreau suggestion. My husband, Eli, loves almonds, but doesn't like almond extract or liqueur. Cointreau sounds like a perfect substitution! I can't wait to try it.

Rose-Anne - There does seem to be something about clafoutis that keeps you coming back for more. About that empty bowl: The truth is, when faced with clafoutis, I can't bring myself to pick up the camera until I have eaten my fill.

Adriene - Thank you. That means a lot.

Ann - As my grandmother would say, you are a woman after my own heart. That pasta was indeed helped along by a clove of garlic and a squeeze of lemon. Kind of a take on this recipe, with criminis instead of morels. I'll have to try it next time with the butter lettuce, as you suggest.

Jess said...

Whoops, Kate, I'm sorry to have left you out. Thank you for your note. Clearly, I agree: 'tis the season for clafoutis!

Andrea [bella eats] said...

I need to try making clafoutis again. I had an awful outcome the first time I tried, with the recipe from The Joy of Cooking. Its scared me away, but I keep seeing them pop up so perhaps its time to give them a shot once more...

I LOVE cherries. The Virginia cherry season was miniscule this year after a late frost wiped out most of the crop. So sad...

Jess said...

Hi, Andrea. I'm very sorry to hear that your initial clafoutis attempt was a flop. But have courage! I hope that this recipe will redeem this worthy dish in your eyes. I made another one last night with nectarines, and it was lovely. No need to wait for a bumper crop of cherries. (Though a meager cherry season is sad in any case. If I could, I would gladly share my bounty with you!)

Muneeba said...

Thks for welcoming me to New England, Jess! I'm looking forward to going to my first farmers' market here ... load me up on some fresh fruit for clafoutis! Yum .. have yet to make one this season.

Jess said...

Muneeba - Congratulations on the big move. A trip to the market and a dish of clafoutis should hopefully soften the landing. Enjoy!

thomfech@aol.com said...

Made this recipe for company last weekend with Michigan cherries. Yum-yum. Amaretto flavor excellent companion for the fruit. I cooked my clafoutis a little toooo long, so the edges were somewhat rubbery. Cooks should obey the jiggle recommendation from Sweet Amandine.

Jess said...

Thanks for reporting back, Amy, and for the jiggle reminder. I'm so glad that you enjoyed this dessert. (I knew you would.)

Steph said...

Jess, Do you think this would work with goat milk or another cow milk substitute? (I'm cooking for someone with a cow-milk allergy).
This looks great.

Jess said...

Hmmm, Steph, I think it would work, though I can't promise. You want something with high-ish fat content, like whole cow's milk. Does goat milk fit the bill? I'm trying to think if it would work with soy milk... If you have to go with a less fatty milk substitute, you might want to add either a little bit of extra flour (a couple of tablespoons?), or even a tablespoon (or less) of cornstarch to help thicken it... Not much help, am I? Whatever you do, please do let me know how it goes. Very curious.