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A&E >  Food

Cherry clafoutis is the casual dessert of the summer

By Aaron Hutcherson Washington Post

Cherry clafoutis is a simple peasant dessert from the Limousin region in France. It features the stone fruit baked in a dish with a flour-thickened custard batter.

The plump, juicy cherries are suspended throughout the batter, and a sprinkling of sugar on top produces a delicate, crackly crust.

It’s my new go-to dessert for highlighting the fruit at its peak.

In my quest to come up with a recipe to share, pastry chef Lisa Donovan gave me two options: “Julia Child’s is a good one. David Lebovitz’s is a great one.”

The two are pretty similar, with slight differences in the amount of sugar, extracts used and the process. In the end, it’s difficult to argue with greatness, and the recipe shared here is closer to Lebovitz’s version.

“It’s meant to be a rustic, casual dessert, so feel free to personalize it,” he writes on his blog, and so I did.

I reduced the amount of sugar ever so slightly to suit my tastes for not-very-sweet desserts, as well as to compensate for the sprinkle of confectioners’ sugar added before serving.

I also added salt, which I noticed was missing from his version, to enhance the other flavors in the dish.

Speaking of flavor, I increased the amount of extracts for a bolder profile.

The most difficult part of preparing this recipe is pitting the cherries (though you could use thawed, previously frozen pitted cherries and skip that step).

Some traditional recipes for clafoutis instruct you not to pit the cherries – which sounds like a dental emergency waiting to happen – as the pit is said to impart an almond flavor to desserts.

Instead, almond extract produces a similar effect without risking a chipped tooth. The rest of the recipe is simple. The batter comes together with a blitz in the blender (you can also make it by hand by whisking together the eggs and sugar until smooth, then add in the flour and salt and end with the milk and extracts).

Pour the batter over the pitted cherries in a buttered cast-iron skillet or baking dish, sprinkle with a little extra sugar to form a delicate crust, and then bake until set.

Give it a quick dusting of confectioners’ sugar once out of the oven, and dessert is ready to be served.

Cherry clafoutis is typically eaten warm, but it’s still delicious at room temperature or directly from the refrigerator in the morning for breakfast.

While it’s great on its own, a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream would be a nice touch.

Cherry Clafoutis

Adapted from David Lebovitz’s blog

Unsalted butter, at room temperature, for greasing

3 cups stemmed and pitted sweet cherries

3 large eggs

1 ¼ cups whole milk

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

½ cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

½ teaspoon almond extract

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees.

Grease a 10-inch cast-iron skillet (or other similarly sized baking dish) liberally with butter. Lay the cherries in a single layer in the skillet.

In a blender, combine the eggs, milk, ½ cup sugar, the flour, vanilla and almond extracts and salt and blend on high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds.

Pour the batter over the cherries and sprinkle the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Bake the clafoutis for about 45 minutes, until the custard is just set and a knife or cake tester inserted in the center comes out relatively clean.

Let cool for at least 5 minutes (the clafoutis will deflate as it cools), sprinkle with the confectioners’ sugar, divide into 6 to 8 even slices and serve warm.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

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