While there’s debate about whether the traditional cherry French custard-y, pancake-y dessert is correctly spelled Clafouti or Clafoutis, there should be no debate about whether the cherries should be pitted before going into the dessert. The correct answer is that they shouldn’t.
What? An unpitted fruit dessert served to guests?? Why, that’s un-American. Exactly.
Clafouti (pronounced “Cla-FOO-tee”) is a dessert to be savored. Not chomped down like a Hostess Cherry Pie. The french know that there should be plenty of time during a meal to take small bites and fish out the pits. But the pits aren’t merely there as speedbumps. They also add flavor.
The cherry is part of the genus Prunus, the same family as the almond. And the pit of the cherry, when cooked, imparts a faint bitter almond flavor. And we all know how well cherry and almond flavors go together. Now you know why. They’re cousins. It’s like a family reunion in your mouth – minus the drunk uncle.
Back to the clafouti. It’s one of the easiests – yet still impressive – desserts to make when the fruits of summer are bursting. The clafouti can me made with all manner of berries, but the cherry is still the traditional favorite. All you need to adjust is the amount of sugar depending on the sweetness of the berries. Search around for recipe varieties – there are many. But here’s our favorite:
1/4 t salt
1/3 C sugar (a little less if using sweet cherries.)
3/4 c milk
1/4 t almond extract (if using pitted cherries or if you desire a stronger almond flavor.)
2 T butter
powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place butter in heavy skillet, or 9 inch cake pan, and place in oven until it melts. Combine all other ingredients in food processor, or blender, or bowl. When butter is melted, add to other ingredients, leaving a thin coating of butter in pan.
Arrange cherries in pleasing pattern on bottom of pan with butter coating. Place pan in refrigerator. The cooling butter will hold the cherries in place. Why? Just a sec…
Blend ingredients in processor until they make a smooth batter. Remove pan with cherries from refrigerator, and pour batter over cherries. See? The congealed butter keeps the cherries from rolling all over the place when you pour in the batter.
Place pan in oven and cook for 20 minutes or until edges are brown, and middle is still a bit jiggly and custardy.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar, And serve warm. Clafouti should be eaten in one sitting, since it will not keep well. Not that that should be a problem.
Just watch out for those pits.