Sunday, May 15, 2011

Alice Waters' Cherry Clafoutis

We never seem to get sour cherries in my neck of the states, but sweet cherries are being sold like crazy in streetside stands and markets everywhere this time of year. I bought a big bag yesterday that were cheap and looked nice, but it turned out they weren't too sweet, so I decided to bake with them.

For help, I turned to Alice Waters, the queen of regional fruit desserts. Decidedly French in spirit if not nationality, Waters' desserts are consistently subtle, light, and almost always feature the very best in fresh fruit.

Well, my fruit wasn't the very best, but when used in a cherry clafoutis, you could hardly tell. This traditional French dessert is sometimes very custardy and rich, but this version is more of a light cake topping over baked sweet cherries. The reserved cherry juice is thickened into a sweet-tart syrup that only heightens the flavor.

WARNING: If you are averse to the idea of perfuming your entire kitchen and the surrounding areas with the heavenly scent of cherry, almond, and lemon, this might not be the dish for you. However, if you are a fan of aroma therapy, by all means make this cherry clafoutis. The smell is to die for, not to mention the taste.

Cherry Clafoutis
From Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook by Alice Waters

1 lb. sweet cherries, washed and pitted (I halved mine)
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. grated lemon zest
A pinch ground cinnamon
1/3 c. sugar (or more, depending on the sweetness of the cherries)
2 eggs, separated
3 T. sugar
2 T. flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/3 c. cream
A pinch salt
Powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly butter a baking pan large enough to hold the cherries loosely in a single layer. Prepare the cherries and arrange them in the pan. Sprinkle with the lemon juice, zest, cinnamon, and sugar. Bake until the fruit is tender, about 15 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Raise the oven temperature to 375F. butter another dish large enough to hold the cherries in a single layer (I used a medium rectangular Pyrex). Drain the cooked cherries, reserving their juice in a small saucepan. Arrange the cherries in the bottom of your baking dish. Beat together the egg yolks and sugar until well blended. Beat in the flour, vanilla, almond extract, and cream.

Beat the egg white with a pinch of salt until they form soft peaks. Stir a little of the whites into the batter, and then carefully fold in the rest. Pour the batter over the fruit in the baking dish, letting a little fruit show through the top.

Bake in the upper third of the oven for about 20 minutes, until the batter has puffed and browned. While the clafoutis is baking, reduce the fruit juices to a thin syrup. When the clafoutis is done, dust it with powdered sugar and serve warm with a drizzle of the syrup.

1 comment:

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!