Recently weather has been playing make-believe with us. I was searching for a word to best describe this time of the year, but all I came up with was uncertainty. End of February is a non-season, don’t you think? Had our fair share of cold, days are getting longer, but spring is not quite here yet either. We’ll just have to endure some more.
It’s also the toughest time of year in the kitchen when you cook produce oriented (which I try to do, within reason). I wanted to whip up dessert, but not something overly decadent. I was dreaming of light, fruity stuff. But what kind of fruit, really? Apples and pears are all from storage and I’m so tired of citrus and bananas by now.
I finally got inspired when we went out to dinner to Pavillon de Paris in celebration of Husband’s name day (also known in some circles as Valentine’s Day 🙂 ). Started off with Escargots de Bourgogne followed by duck and quail, and finishing with a perfect Crème brûlée for him, and Clafoutis with forest fruits for her.
Their clafoutis was a little unorthodox, served not in slices but in a ramekin and I absolutely loved it! Instead of the classic custardy pancake batter, the texture was a lot fluffier, soufflé-like. I think I felt a hint of almond in there too, which was also a wonderful touch.
Decision made, clafoutis it is. Sure, any fresh, local fruit is months away but I have access to the next best thing: frozen fruits. It’s about time we started cleaning out mom’s freezer anyway to make space for this year’s harvest (let’s just hope this isn’t wishful thinking).
You should know my parents maintain a mini model farm of a garden in their backyard with an amazing array of fruits and vegetables and what we don’t eat fresh gets conserved. They have a big capacity chest freezer literally overflowing with home-grown produce.
So we’re set. Or are we? I’ve read through dozens of recipes in search for this airy light take on the traditional French dessert, one that will hopefully puff up nicely and stay that way instead of collapsing in the middle as it cools, but came up empty-handed. I’m sure it’s out there somewhere, I just didn’t happen to stumble upon it.
Eventually, I made an educated guess: the truth must lie in the intersection of pancakes and sponge cakes. I used some milk as per pancakes, and separated the eggs, as per sponges. Further on, I’ve decided to stick to the roots with sour cherries, although clafoutis works well with just about any fruit.
The authentic way would have been using whole cherries. This is said to add more flavour but to be honest, I find having to deal with pits in your mouth a severe blow to the level of enjoyment. But, do as you like. Also note that frozen fruit should be thawed and drained beforehand.
Sour Cherry Clafoutis
The rustic, French country dessert with a twist in texture.
400 g sour cherries pitted or whole, fresh or frozen
3 eggs, separated
50 g + 3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp kirsch or meggy pálinka (strong, clear fruit brandy, optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
50 g almond flour
50 g all-purpose flour
60 ml (1/4 cup) whole milk
powdered sugar, for dusting
butter, for greasing the pan
- If using frozen fruit, thaw and drain.
- Grease a 32 cm / 13” pie plate generously with butter, preheat oven to 180°C / 356°F.
- In a clean bowl, whisk egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Adding a tbsp of sugar at a time, continue whisking until stiff and shiny. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks and remaining 50 g sugar until pale.
- Add vanilla, alcohol (if using) and milk. Mix well.
- Add almond flour and all-purpose flour, mixing just until incorporated.
- Carefully fold in egg whites and pour batter into pan. Arrange cherries on top.
- Bake for 30-35 min until set and golden. Transfer to a rack to cool, serve warm with a dusting of powdered sugar.
How do you deal with winter blues?
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