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Cherry Clafouti

Servings: 6-8
What is a Clafouti?

Definition: [kla-foo-TEE]
Originally from the Limousin region of France, this country-French dessert is made by topping a layer of fresh fruit with batter. After baking it's served warm, sometimes with cream. Some clafoutis have a cake-like topping while others are more like a pudding. Though cherries are traditional, any fruit such as plums, peaches or pears can be used.
The Limousin region is best known for its sweet black cherries, which, left whole and unpitted, are traditionally baked in a sweet custard filling. Purists insist the pits help to perfume the dish with an appetizing scent, but you can use pitted cherries.

Clafouti is a delicious fruit and custard dessert that is very simple to prepare. Any seasonal fruit, such as peaches or blackberries, can be used but cherries work especially well. Traditionally, cherry clafoutis is prepared with brandy or kirsch but you could leave the alcohol out and only use vanilla. Serve this dessert warm from the oven, as this will bring out the flavor of the cherries. Serve with vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream. Garnish clafouti with a sprinkling of confectioners' sugar and a little orange zest.

1 pound fresh cherries* (See Note Below), pitted and cut in half
1/4 cup brandy or kirsch (vanilla extract may be substituted for the brandy or kirsch, if desired)
1 cup whole milk
4 eggs
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Garnish: (optional)
Confectioners' sugar
Orange zest

Serve with: (optional)
Vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream

Pit cherries and cut in half. Place in bowl and pour brandy over top. Set aside 20 to 30 minutes to allow flavors to combine.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F/160 degrees C.

To Prepare Custard:
Combine milk, eggs, salt, vanilla, sugar and flour in a mixing bowl. Whisk by hand until all ingredients are well combined and batter is very smooth.

Place cherries in a buttered square, round or oval shaped oven-safe dish, an 8-inch square or round cake pan or an 8-inch springform pan lined with aluminum foil to prevent leaking. Pour batter over cherries. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes. The batter will be set and slightly golden in color. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. If desired, sprinkle confectioners' sugar and a little orange zest over clafouti. Serve dessert warm with vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream. Clafouti is best served and eaten the same day it is made.

Canned (and drained) pitted cherries may be substituted for the fresh cherries in this recipe or you may use other fresh fruit that is available to you instead of cherries, such as blueberries, pears, plums, peaches, apricots or blackberries.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Date: August 1, 2004