You know what? I’m having a fantastic summer. Life is incredibly sweet, juicy opportunities for personal and professional development are cropping up left and right, we’re going to Napa in one month and — I’m thrilled.
Its terrible how little I like to talk about this, how fearful even the most level-headed of us can be of jinxing out all the good in the world by bringing it up. I mean, really. There is a difference between flaunting or bragging about a good life and celebrating it, or at least there ought to be. Did I tell you Alex and I had a little paper airplane flying contest before we went to bed two nights ago? Yeah, things are that kind of fun.
And then there are the cherries. My god, we’re just swimming in them, a big bowl of cliché-come-true. They arrived at our apartment two days ago via UPS in a refrigerated foil package from Batch’s Best Family Farms in Chelan, Washington via ChefShop.com. They’re enormous; “so sweet and so cold” and I feel incredibly indulgent with my fuchsia-stained fingernails and belly full of ruined meals because I can’t quit snacking on them. I keep thinking back to when I first moved to New York, seven years ago now, and I was so broke all the time that cherries, with their inevitable eight-buck price tag for little more than two handfuls were just not something I could eat as often as I wanted, which you know was daily.
And now there’s this. Piles and piles of garnet marbles, such perfection in their original format that I felt guilty baking a significant lot of them into Ceres & Bacchus’s Clafoutis two nights ago–until I tried it. What a glorious dessert, more like a thick crepe than any cake I’ve ever had, and even better cold the next morning with a scoop of plain yogurt.
If you’ve never made cherry clafoutis before, this will be a treat for you. A real one-bowl show-off, and get this, if you’re going for tradition–and oh, you will once you learn how much easier it will make your life–you leave the pits in. Larousse Gastronomique and other traditionalists insist that the pits impart a almond flavor when baked within the custard, something no authentic clafoutis should be deprived of. Clafoutis is often made with plums or prunes (always soaked first in Armagnac), apples or blackberries, but some remind you that this is not, indeed, a clafoutis but a flognarde.
You know what I say? I say there are about twenty cherries left in the fridge, and its time for lunch. I hope you have a swell weekend.
I make clafoutis by a recipe from the late food blog, Ceres & Bacchus. My tweaks are to swap the vanilla extract for almond and adding a bit more than 2 cups of cherries. What’s untraditional about this clafoutis is the inclusion of butter (originally 8 tablespoons but I find 6 to be a better level) but if you ask me, it makes all the difference. Clafoutis detractors will usually complain that they can be “rubbery,” “bland” “eggy” or “omelet-like.” I am convinced this is lives up to its custardy promise because of the butter.
A traditional Limousin clafoutis contains unpitted cherries. The pits contain amygdalin, the chemical that makes almond extract taste what we believe it almonds, and it is said that in the oven, the unpitted cherries will release a little of this complementary flavor into the clafoutis. Thus, it’s entirely up to you if you wish to pit them. Pitted, they’re a safer bet for kids that might forget to spit them out. Unpitted, you can be spectacularly lazy in the name of authenticity. I bet you cannot guess which way I make it.
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
- 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus more to butter dish
- 1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
- A couple pinches of salt
- 1 cup (235 ml) milk
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 teaspoons brandy or rum (optional)
- 2 generous (245 grams) cups sweet cherries, pitted if you wish
Place the cherries in a buttered glass or earthenware baking dish, cake pan (9 or 10 inches in diameter) or skillet that can go in the oven. (I use a 9-inch cake pan.) Pour the batter over the fruit. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until slightly browned and almost completely set in the middle. Let sit at least 15 minutes before serving in wedges. I like it dusted with powdered sugar.