Cold weather food for those long nights of winter, Classic Beef Stew & Dumplings is…
A little twist on a French classic, Cherry Clafoutis with White Chocolate made with the last of the summer cherries, the swan song of summer. It won’t be long before we’re awash with pumpkins and apples as the kids head back to school and sweaters emerge from storage. But let’s not talk about that, let’s stay with summer a little bit longer and chat about cherries.
Traditional clafoutis recipes call for unpitted cherries, which lends a light almond flavour to the dish and makes it a royal pain in the ass to eat. There’s nothing so elegant as spitting out cherry pits, wouldn’t you say? Which means pitting cherries, a long, messy chore, made just a little bit quicker by the instrument of torture you see below, the Cherry Pitter.
This particular pitter comes from my mother’s kitchen, it’s probably as old as I am. There are many newfangled cherry pitters on the market, but this ancient contraption is mine. It hurts the thumb to operate and I’ve never had much luck with it, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t. Thing is, it always worked for my mother. Yesterday I decided there must be a some kind of trick not passed down to this generation, so I took a little time to really dissect the process (while sipping kirsch for inspiration) and discovered that it was all about how you loaded the cherries in that made the difference.
Have you ever noticed that cherries are not perfectly round? They have a round side and a flatt side (see photo below – left). Loading them in flat side against the shaft put the pits in the perfect position, then it was just push, splat, pit. I still split them in two, because I love the little hollow of the pit in the half cherry, but now I have conquered the cherry pitter. I had these babies preped and cut in 20 minutes flat – I am mighty. VOILA!
These cherries have been living the the Frigidaire for far too long, but it’s been too hot to bake. A little break in the temperature made for much more comfortable kitchen fun. Because we took the pits out I wanted to add a little almond flavour back in. One option is almond extract, as I was adding extra liquid with a bit of kirsch (everything’s better with booze), and some fat with the white chocolate, I wanted something that would give the batter more stability so I opted for almond flour. I also turned down the sugar considerably to compensate for the sweetness of chocolate and bring it into harmony rather than hitting one’s sweet tooth with a hammer. The results were outstanding.
This was my first clafoutis, so I read several recipes before testing one of my own. Naturally I turned to Julia Child, and borrowed a wonderful little tip from her as well. One of the issues with a custard, crust-less flan like this one is the fruit sticking to the bottom on the pan. Most recipes call for you to load the fruit, then top with custard and bake. Julia’s technique suggests pouring a layer of batter in the bottom of the dish to set first.
A quarter inch of custard, baked in the bottom for 5 minutes gave me a firm base to load the fruit and white chocolate on. A custard crust, I’m calling it a “crustard”. Brilliant idea, it gave the finished product a firm bottom layer (that didn’t burn), and suspended the fruit perfectly.
Cherry Clafouti with White Chocolate, an elegant, simple, fresh fruit dessert, that leaves the cherries firm and ripe instead of turning them into a syrupy-goo. A wonderful way to pay homage to the last days summer.
Cherry Clafoutis with White Chocolate – Recipe
Prep time: 30 minutes (or an hour, how fast do you pit cherries?)
Baking time 45 – 50 minutes
Makes 6-8 servings
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons almond flour (ground almonds)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons kirsch (cherry liqueur )
1 cup milk
3 cups cherries, pitted
2/3 cup white chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon butter (to prep pan)
powdered sugar, to finish
Preheat oven to 375*F (180*C). Prepare 9 inch tart pan by coating with butter.
In large bowl combine dry ingredients; flour, sugars, ground almonds and salt and stir until well blended, whisk in eggs and reserve. In a small bowl whisk together milk, vanilla and kirsch, then add liquid to flour/egg mixture and whisk until smooth.
Pour a 1/4 inch layer of the batter in a lightly buttered tart pan (or 8 – 9 cup baking pan of your choice). Place in the oven until that light film of batter is set in the pan (about 5 minutes). Remove from the heat and spread the cherries over the set batter. Sprinkle on the white chocolate. Gently pour on the rest of the batter, distributing evenly, to cover cherries & chocolate. Bake at 375 degrees for about for about 45 minutes – 50 minutes.
The clafoutis is done when it’s risen and golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. When removed from the oven it will still jiggle a bit, this is normal, so long as the tester is clean and the tart is firm to the touch, it’s done. Place on a wire rack to cool, it will shrink and deflate a bit as it does, no worries. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, serve warm… or cool… or the next day for breakfast. Completely irresistible.
Gypsy Tip: You can get cherry juice out of fabric by rinsing immediately with cold water and rubbing with a bit of lemon. Or use boiling water poured from a height of 4 – 5 feet. If using boiling water, be sure to remove clothing first. Just sayin’.