The Fourth of July is fast approaching, so what better way to celebrate France’s vital contribution to our independence from England than by consuming copious quantities of Cherry Clafoutis. While I am not certain George Washington ever enjoyed this dessert concoction, my sous chef and I do so regularly, particularly during summer.
This dessert is lusciously light, can be prepared ahead of time, and is sure to be a crowd pleaser. The cherries have wonderful notes of tangy sweet--sourness and hints of tobacco and tannic tea that match well with the sweet, buttery flavor and whiffs of cocoa found in the hazelnut. Cherry pits and bitter almonds form a compound that is second only to vanilla as the most popular flavor molecule in the United States’ flavor and fragrance industry. So feel free to substitute almonds as an alternative. In France, Cherry Clafoutis is served with the pits in the cherries so the cherries do not stain the batter. This could make for some dangerous eating, so I recommend removing the pits from the cherries unless you are an expert at the Heimlich maneuver or a dentist in need of patients. And if you insist on going French, don’t forget a bowl for the pits! Your guests will appreciate your thoughtfulness when they are trying to figure out where to discreetly dispose of the pits.
This dessert has become one of our house favorites, and is sous chef-approved to serve to guests.
¾ cup of sugar
Pinch of salt
Scant ½ cup ground hazelnuts (can substitute almonds or pistachios)
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
3 ½ Tbs sour cream*
7 Tbs Buttermilk (or regular milk)
12 oz. pitted fresh cherries
*can use crème fraiche as a substitute
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Butter and flour 6-8 ramekins or one 7 ½ by 4 inch baking dish or pan.
Place cherries evenly across bottom of the prepared ramekins or dish.
Whisk the eggs with sugar and salt until pale yellow and thick. Sift and fold in the ground nuts and flour, then stir in the mascarpone cheese and sour cream (or crème fraiche). Make sure the ingredients are well mixed.
Pour or ladle the batter over the cherries, place the ramekins or dish on a baking tray, and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.
Served warm or cold, this dessert goes well with a dollop of cream, crème fraiche, or ice cream and a garnish of chopped fresh cherries.