Clafouti aux Cerises (Cherry French Flan)
I think clafouti is one of the most commonly found desserts in France after crème brulée.
Clafouti is traditionally made with cherries; the fruit is baked in a custard, flan-like batter. Contrary to crème caramel (which is somewhat like a flan), clafouti is made with flour. Just sprinkle on little powdered sugar before serving and you'll get oohs and ahhs from your guests.
Yields: 18 servings1 cup all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup sugar
6 cups fresh Bing cherries, washed, stemmed, pitted
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon imitation brandy extract
1 vanilla bean, slit lengthwise
2-1/2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for greasing the ramekins
Place the cherries in a bowl. Coat them in 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and brandy. Let macerate for about 10-15 minutes until the juices begin to flow.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Using a handheld mixer, whisk the eggs with the sugar until you get a pale, yellow foam.
Using a paring knife, scrape and gather all the grains of the vanilla bean. Add the grains of vanilla to the eggs.
Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Sift the dry ingredients. Form a well in the center of the bowl. Pour in the egg mixture. Add the milk. Mix until the batter is smooth. Do NOT overmix.
Pour the custard mixture through a sieve, then pour about 1-1/2 tablespoons into each ramekin (previously lightly greased with butter).
Bake for 2 minutes at 400°F. Open the oven, add 3 cherries per ramekin, sprinkle them with the remaining brown sugar and cover the fruit with the remaining batter, up to the top of the ramekin. Close the oven; bake for 10 minutes at 375°F, then lower the temperature to 350°F for another 35 minutes.
Let it cool for a few minutes. Serve warm, sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Clafouti gets its origin from the region of Limousin, in France. If cherries are not in season, you can substitute any other soft fruits such as plums, cranberries, blackberries or mulberries. If you make clafouti with prunes, it's called un far breton (a specialty in Brittany).
My tip to get freshly pitted cherries is to call your kids . Just make a small criss-cross incision using a pairing knife and use your finger to get the pit. It's messy, (they can eat the ones they mess up) and fun for them.
After scraping the grains of vanilla, do NOT discard the remaining vanilla bean. Just place the vanilla bean in a jar and cover it with regular granulated sugar. Let it sit for a few weeks and you'll get a nice, fragrant vanilla sugar.
If you don't have any vanilla bean, you can substitute 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract.
This recipe yields 18 (3-ounce) mini-ramekins. You can certainly bake the clafouti in a large baking pan (9-inch square).
Published By: on August 7, 2009.