Spending all day making a complex dessert and getting worshipped by everyone that tastes it feels good. What you may love more, is spending under an hour making a dessert and getting the same praise. You’re about to have your mind blown. This sweet dish is a simple recipe that looks and tastes like its been lovingly prepared in a Parisian café.
Have you ever had the pleasure of making a cherry clafoutis? It is the perfect dish to make if you’re overrun with cherries (which probably isn’t often!). The fruit is macerated in soul-warming kirsch to give it a subtle almond flavor, then baked into a firm type of pudding. The result is a creamy, custard-like dessert that is a wonderful combination of cake and flan.
The region of Limousin, in France, gets credit for inventing the clafoutis. They traditionally bake it with locally grown griotttes or morello cherries. The French people have embraced this dessert, and it can be found on restaurant menus throughout France in the cherry season. The combination of slightly sour fruit submerged in a sweet batter is hard to resist.
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- 1 pound fresh cherries
- 4 tbsp kirsch
- ½ cup superfine sugar
- 2 tbsp Demerara sugar
- ½ cup flour
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 eggs beaten
- 1 ¼ cups whole milk
- 1 ½ tbsp butter melted
- 2-3 drops almond essence or vanilla
- ½ lemon zested
- icing sugar to garnish
- Remove the cherry stalks and cut off any unwanted bits with a paring knife. Wash the fruit gently in cold water to ensure they are clean.
- Add cherries to a large bowl and squash each fruit a little to break the skins. Sprinkle in 2 Tbsp of superfine sugar, and the kirsch then toss to coat the cherries thoroughly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature macerating for two hours.
- Preheat the oven to 355°F (180°C) and set the oven rack to the middle position.
- Grease six individual ramekins, or cups, and coat the inside of the dishes with half the demerara sugar, then set aside.
- Sift flour and salt into a large bowl then add leftover superfine sugar and eggs. Whisk until smooth, then add the milk, melted butter, and almond essence. Continue whisking until a silky-smooth batter forms.
- Stir in the lemon zest then add the cherries, including the juices. Pour mixture into the prepared ramekins.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until the batter is cooked. It needs a slight wobble in the center. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes.
- Lightly dust each pot with icing sugar. Serve on its own or with a dollop of cream on the side. Remember to include a small plate for leftover pits.
About the batter
The batter is a crucial part of this dessert. It needs to be quite thick in consistency, similar to a flan mixture. It should end up light and wobbly – just thick enough to suspend the cherries. Eggs provide a delicious custardy flavor that is luxurious but also light at the same time.
Raising agents, like baking powder, aren’t used in this recipe as the whisked eggs provide enough airy suspension on their own. Some chefs include baking powder, but most cooks find it unnecessary.
This recipe uses butter, which can be browned first to make a beurre noisette. This brown butter adds depth of nutty flavor that is subtle, but worth the effort if you have the time.
You could also substitute in some olive oil for the butter. It brings a richness to the dish. Don’t overdo the oil, though – an over-powering olive flavor won’t help the dessert in any way.
Choosing the best fruit
Using cherries isn’t compulsory. They’re mighty expensive most of the year, which makes for a costly dessert. Rather than break the bank, you can use alternative fruits that are more likely to be in your kitchen.
- apple pieces
When this dish is prepared with a different type of fruit than cherries, it is known as flaugnarde.
If cherries are in season, then find the freshest, plumpest looking fruits that are blemish-free. You’ll want to check the stems – vibrant green stalks are what you want. Also, give them a light squeeze to ensure they are firm. What you don’t want is to feel bruising or soft spots.
Removing the pits isn’t essential. Traditionally they were left in and, today, that still seems to be the case. The pits serve a purpose. As they warm in the oven, their aroma infuses into the batter. If you decide to leave them in, then be sure to warn everyone at the table so that there are no cracked teeth or choking incidents!
Macerating is the simple process of soaking fruit in liquid to soften and add taste. It is essential to the success of your clafoutis as the cherries gain a boozy, almond undertone. It means two hours of waiting time, but you won’t regret it. Remember to lightly crush the fruit so that the skin breaks and allows the kirsch to penetrate.
Frequently asked questions
What if I don’t drink alcohol?
If you don’t drink alcohol or don’t enjoy the taste, then you can leave out the kirsch and add a little extra almond essence instead.
What if I don’t have any kirsch?
Kirsch is a liquor that brings cherry and almond flavors to the dessert. It is the secret ingredient in this recipe, which can be quite expensive. If you can’t get your hands on any, then use one of our recommended kirsch substitutes.
How do I reheat cherry clafoutis?
To reheat clafoutis, bake on 355°F until it is warm throughout, or microwave for one-minute intervals until the pie reaches your required heat.
Can you eat clafoutis cold?
Clafoutis is suitable for eating warm or cold.
How do I store clafoutis?
This dessert is excellent eaten the next day. To store leftover clafoutis, place in an airtight container and place in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Alternatively, label a freezer-safe container and store in the freezer for 3-6 months. To thaw, place in the fridge overnight.
Is it okay to use cherries from a jar?
While fresh cherries taste better and look appealing on desserts, the jarred version is still acceptable for use in desserts.
Can I use a blender for the batter?
Using a blender is a good option when making clafoutis batter as it ensures all the ingredients are incorporated.
Cherry clafoutis is a tasty French dessert that is easy to make, even for a first-time cook. Since the 1800s, this food has been prepared lovingly in homes all around France. Now, this dish has extended its popularity and is made in restaurants across the globe. The combination of flavor, visual appearance, and simplicity make this a recipe well worth adding to your favorites list.
Are you a lover of French food? Why not make a themed dinner by cooking cheese souffles, oyster chowder, croque madame or croque monsieur.
Have you tried this recipe yet? Share your experience in the comments below.
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