What Do Cherries, Summer Flings and Julia Child Have in Common?
Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but I’ve been having a fling with Bing this summer…Bing cherries, that is. I might flirt with apples in the Fall, snuggle up with citrus in the winter, and run through spring fields with the strawberries. But come the height of summer, I rekindle my romance with seductively sweet-tart and juicy summer cherries!
To be honest, I take cherries for granted most of the year, as my passions turn toward whatever is the fruit darling of the season. But when I start to see those plump crimson beauties glistening in the summer markets, I just can’t resist their siren call. I might try to play shy at first, circling the bins, tasting this one or that one. But in no time at all, I just can’t resist the temptation! I grab a few pounds, and say “come on over to my place…”
…And that’s where Julia Child comes in
Coincidentally, Julia Child’s birthday is around the same time as the height of cherry season. And when I think of cherries and Julia, I immediately pull out Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and turn to her classic Cherry Clafoutis recipe.
If you’re not familiar with Clafoutis, it is a rustic French dessert that is traditionally made by baking stone fruit in an egg custard batter. It is very similar to a popover or Dutch baby, and puffs up into a custard cloud when baked. When it cools, it can be more like a dense buttery cake.
Because of its texture, I have found that most people have a love or hate relationship with clafoutis. But either way, just say the word, pronounced “kla-foo-ti”, and you immediately sound sexy and oh so French! I think Julia was onto something here, and may have had the same love affair with cherries that I do. Her clafoutis recipe is really the beloved classic, one that is not to be messed with. But since I’m spilling it all today, I will confess that I tweak it just a little bit. Instead of vanilla, I add in a splash of Luxardo maraschino liqueur to deepen the cherry flavor. I also prefer more cherries and a tad more sugar in the batter too, because my sweet tooth just can’t be sated. There is some debate about whether you should pit the cherries or not. Pitting them can lead to the cherry juices leaking into the custard which looks a little messy (that’s the food stylist in me talking), but be sure to warn your guests if you leave them in!
You could also make clafoutis with other summer fruit. But is it really still clafoutis at that point? Brian Hart Hoffman (of Hoffman Media and Bake from Scratch magazine) and I once had this very discussion! In the end, we both agreed that it has to have cherries to be a real clafoutis. And given my current fling for Bing, it would be scandalous to use anything else!
Based on Julia Child’s Cherry Clafoutis recipe
Serves 6 for dessert
About 1-2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2/3 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon Luxardo liqueur
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour
4 cups cherries, pitted if desired
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Rub butter all over the inside of a 2-quart shallow baking dish. Set aside.
- Place milk, 2/3 cup sugar, eggs, liqueur, salt and flour in a blender. Blend to combine well.
- Pour about 1/3 of the batter into the baking dish. Place in preheated oven, and bake just until set (about 10 minutes).
- Remove dish from the oven, and scatter cherries all over the batter in the dish. Sprinkle the cherries with 2 tablespoons more sugar, and then pour the remaining batter over the cherries.
- Place dish back in the oven, and bake until puffed and lightly browned (about 45-50 minutes). A knife inserted in the middle of the clafouti should come out clean.
- Remove dish from the oven, and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.
What’s your favorite cherry recipe? Share with us in the comments!