As soon as I heard that Janice of Farmersgirl Kitchen had picked cherries as the special ingredient for this month’s We Should Cocoa, I had clafoutis in mind. For Christmas I received a beautiful red clafoutis dish from my mother and although much admired, I hadn’t actually used it yet. This was the spur I needed.
Clafoutis is a simple dish which hails originally from the Limousin region of France where black cherries grow in abundance. The cherries should be cooked in the batter unpitted as the stones are meant to impart an almond flavour to the batter if left in. This is certainly how I remember it being served when I was living in Switzerland. In fact the very mention of clafoutis takes me straight back to my au pair days there many years ago. It was my first taste of the dish and also my first and only experience of an abundance of cherries – they seemed to grow everywhere. It should be served warm, rather than hot which allows the batter to firm up a bit and the flavours to be more prominent. If any fruit other than black cherries are used, it is no longer a clafoutis, apparently, but a flaugnarde.
When I checked through my books, using the wonderful Eat Your Books (head to my sidebar), I only had one recipe for a classic clafoutis (Clafoutis Limousin) and that was in The Cranks Bible by Nadine Abensur. It just needed a little extra something of course – chocolate. Cherries and dark chocolate are a classic combination, you only have to think Black Forest Gateau. So I thought I’d try swirling some chocolate through the mix to add a nice contrast and hopefully look good too. I made half of the quantity given, substituted reducrrant liqueur for cognac and left out the additional egg yolks. I also stuck to tradition and didn’t pit the cherries as Nadine directed. Apart from anything else, they are a pain to remove and easy enough to spit out, or did I mean delicately extract, when eating.
This is what I did:
- Buttered my clafoutis dish.
- Sprinkled a dessertspoon of rose (caster) sugar over the base.
- Scattered 250g of large washed sweet black cherries around the dish.
- Whisked 30g of rose sugar with 2 large hens eggs until well incorporated.
- Whisked in 1/4 pt double cream and 1/4 pt milk.
- Sifted in 1 tbsp wholemeal flour, 1 tbsp white flour and a pinch of Pink Himalayan salt and folded into the egg mixture until just about smooth.
- Poured batter over the cherries.
- Melted 50g milk chocolate (G&B 35%) with 20g of unsalted butter in a pan over low heat.
- Poured this over the batter in an attempted swirly pattern.
- Spooned 2 tbsp redcurrant liqueur over the top.
- Baked at 190C for 30 minutes.
The chocolate effect was more of a drizzle than a swirl, but I was nonetheless pleased with the result and I’m raring to do it again. Because it looked so good, I didn’t dust icing sugar over the top as tradition demands.
Simple thought it may be, the clafoutis tasted absolutely delicious. The batter had transformed into a creamy custard which reminded me of creme caramel. CT thought the chocolate gave it a caramel quality which supported my finding. The cherries were delicious and the stones really did give an extra hit of almond. We both liked chocolate being swirled through the batter rather than thoroughly mixed in as it gave a nice contrast of flavours. In one of CTs mad moments, he reckoned that the chocolate taste punctuated his consciousness intermittently as it swirled around his mouth. It was not overly sweet, but very very tasty. We both agreed that this was comfort food at its most satisfying but without the stodge factor which is what you want in the summer, even though summer has failed to materialise this year.