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Cherries are in Season—Time to Make Cherry Clafoutis

Did you see the movie, Julie and Julia? It chronicles one woman’s quest to provide American cooks with the recipes and techniques necessary to create delicious French dishes at home; and it recounts another’s journey to master those skills.

Julie and Julia is the true story of two women. Current day, Julie Powell, a cubicle worker frustrated in a mind-numbing job, is just turning thirty. She decides if she is going to master cooking, she must cook her way through Julia Child’s cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She takes on quite a challenge—524 recipes in 365 days—and, she blogs about her adventure. Julie loved coming home to cook, leaving behind the drudgery of her day job.

In this movie we also get acquainted with the very charming and passionate Julia Child, who found herself living in Paris during the 1950s. Julia loved to eat but didn’t even know how to boil an egg until she turned 40. Looking for something to occupy her time, she decided to take cooking lessons from Le Cordon Bleu, where she became quite an accomplished cook. She eventually co-authored the infamous cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle; and the rest, of course, is history.

One of my favorite Julia Child recipes is Cherry Clafoutis, pronounced kla-foo-TEE. In France, this rustic country dessert is traditionally made with the first sweet cherries of the season. And, since cherries are in season, it’s the perfect time to add this Julia Child recipe to our repertoire.

Cherry clafoutis is much like a pudding with a consistency somewhere between cake and custard. It is prepared by arranging sweet cherries in a buttered dish and then covering them with a thin, pancake-like batter. The same preparation made with a different fruit like berries is called flognarde. Only clafoutis is made with cherries.

Historians believe clafoutis originated in the Limousin region, where the traditional preparation uses unpitted cherries. The French maintain that while this dish bakes the pits release a delicious almond flavor into the batter. Purists maintain pitted cherries give clafoutis a mild, bland flavor.

Clafoutis batter is very easy to mix. It uses simple ingredients so if you’ve got some cherries on hand, you can whip it up in a moment’s notice. Because the batter contains eggs, this dessert will rise like a soufflé. When you remove it from the oven, however, it will fall as it cools. If you make this recipe, don’t get uptight if your clafoutis falls. That’s just what it does.

After being removed from the oven, clafoutis is dusted with powdered sugar and served lukewarm. I like to garnish it with a dollop of yogurt or crème fraiche. Clafoutis can also be served chilled—it is delicious either way. You can make it a day in advance, but it’s appearance and taste are best immediately after coming out of the oven. Although normally served as a dessert, it can be served for brunch or a wickedly, decadent breakfast.

Following is my version of Julia Child’s clafoutis recipe. I use unpitted cherries, because I agree with the purists—the pits release a delicate almond flavor. Also, I like leaving the stems on; they pop out of the batter as it rises, making an interesting presentation. Julia pitted her cherries and didn’t add raspberries. If you want to pit your cherries like Julia, use 4 cups instead of 3. Also, I prefer preparing clafoutis in individual ramekins rather than in a large baking dish. Julia used an 8-cup baking dish.

I am personally grateful to Julia Child for bringing us wonderful French dishes like clafoutis to enjoy. As Julia would say: Bon Appétit.

Cherry Clafoutis with Raspberries Serves 6 to 8

1 ¼ cups milk 2/3 cup granulated sugar, divided 3 large eggs 1 tablespoon vanilla extract Pinch sea salt ½ cup all-purpose flour, sifted Butter for buttering dishes 3 cups cherries, unpitted 1 cup raspberries Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a blender or food processor, combine milk, 1/3 cup sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, salt and flour and blend until well combined. Lightly butter 6 to 8 ovenproof ramekins. Pour a 1/4-inch layer of batter into the buttered ramekins. Place the ramekins in the oven and bake until a film of batter sets in the pan. Remove from the heat and spread the cherries and raspberries over the batter. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup sugar. Pour on the remaining batter. Bake about 45 to 60 minutes, or until clafoutis is puffed and golden brown or when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, garnish with a dollop of plain yogurt or crème fraiche, and serve warm.

Cooking tip: Pitting cherries is a tedious job. This task is much easier if you have a cherry pitter. If you don’t own one, you can do it by hand. To pit cherries, use a small, sharp paring knife to make a small slit in the cherry at the stem end. Then, using the tip of the knife or your thumbnail, remove the pit. This process is best done over a bowl so any dripping juice will fall into the bowl and not stain your countertop. Because cut cherries start to immediately release their juices, it is important to use them right away.

Shopping for cherries: Select cherries that are firm, glossy, plump, and bright. Cherries have passed their prime if they are soft, dull, shriveled, wet, or sticky. Avoid buying fruit that has brown, bruised spots. Color is an indication of sweetness. Darker red cherries will be sweeter.

Storing cherries: Cherries are perishable and should be refrigerated immediately upon arriving home from the market. This fruit is best when eaten within 1 to 2 days of purchase. Always wash cherries just before eating.

Carol Ann

Carol Ann Kates is the award-winning author of cookbook, Secret Recipes from the Corner Market and Insider Grocery Shopping Secrets. She’s an expert in how to shop, select, and store produce for maximizing home cooking outcomes and minimizing time and money spent. As a former supermarket and deli operator, Carol Ann shares grocery-insider wisdom—the same expertise you used to receive when patronizing a mom-and-pop establishment. Contact her at CarolAnn@CarolAnnKates.com and explore her website, www.CarolAnnKates.com.

Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Carol Ann Kates

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