Monday, March 31, 2014

Cherry Clafouti

So, what exactly is a clafouti? Well, it's a French dish, traditionally with cherries baked in a flan-like batter. It's sort of like if a pancake and a custard had a baby. It can be served as a dessert, with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream, or for breakfast or brunch with a little powdered sugar. It's really kind of elegant in its simplicity. It's not as sweet as you think it might be, but it's just sweet enough. Cool, huh?
 I must confess I was not familiar with it until I saw Chef Anne making it on Secrets of a Restaurant Chef. It looked so easy and quick, I thought "Why not?' And it turns out that it was exactly as easy and quick as it seemed. And SO tasty!! I love that she adds ground almonds to the batter (which is her own little thumbprint, as she says). It gives it the nicest little bit of texture. I think I'd even carry the almond thing a little further by adding a little almond extract. Cherries and almonds are such good friends, so why not? I think I'd like it better as a brunch item instead of a dessert item. It sort of has that same vibe as French Toast when it comes to having something sweet for breakfast. I love discovering new dishes, don't you?? Try it!!

1/2 stick butter, melted, plus more for baking dish
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for baking dish
1 pound fresh cherries, pitted and cut in 1/2 or 1 box frozen cherries
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch salt
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 lemon, zested
Powdered sugar
Ice cream or whipped cream, for garnish

Preheat oven to 325ºF.
 Generously butter and flour a 7 by 5-inch baking dish or 6 individual, wide, flat gratin dishes. Add the cherries, in an even layer, to the prepared baking dish. In the bowl of a food processor, add the almonds, sugar, flour and salt and pulse until they are coarsely chopped. In a large bowl, using a whisk, combine the eggs, milk, vanilla and lemon zest until they are homogeneous. Add in the melted butter and the flour mixture and whisk until smooth. Pour over the cherries. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the center is set and the top is golden brown. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with ice cream or whipped cream or both!

I used an 8x8 baking dish and it turned out perfectly. Just sayin.
I used frozen cherries, but definitely try this with fresh cherries when they're in season. And if you do, be sure to buy a cherry pitter! It's an absolute MUST! I wouldn't make it without it!
Be sure to add the lemon zest. It gives such an amazing flavor and brightens up the whole dish!

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