Thursday, August 9, 2012

Cherry Honey Clafouti

Robert returned from a trip to Montana with a passel of Flathead Lake cherries--more than we'll be able to eat out of hand (which is a shame, 'cause these cherries are delicious!).  So, I've been doing some sweet cherry and honey recipe testing.  One result is this cherry clafouti (pronounced cla-FOO-tee). You don't need Flathead Lake cherries from Montana to make this dish--any sweet cherry will do.  You could also substitute fresh apricots, or even some very ripe pears.

Clafouti is a rich, eggy dessert--a kind of sturdy custard pie filling without the pastry.  The original  recipe, which calls for sugar,  is from Mark Bittman's The Best Recipes in the World (2005).   Bittman claims that "this is one of the most successful spontaneous desserts you can add to your repertoire, yet fancy enough for a blowout dinner party."  That convinced me to give it a try, though I have to admit it's not among my favorite desserts (a bit too eggy for me).  I wasn't going to post it on the blog until I noticed that Rob's been making his way through it--even a few days after it was made!

Cherry Honey Clafouti
1 1/4 lbs sweet cherries, pitted (or 1 pound ripe apricots--halved and pitted; or 3-4 very ripe pears, stemmed, peeled, halved and cored)
1/3 cup honey (Bittman's recipe calls for 1/2 cup sugar)
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped)
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (omit if using sugar)
1 1/2 cups half-and-half (or 3/4 cup heavy cream--or yogurt! and 3/4 cup milk)
pinch of salt.

Butter a gratin dish that's large enough to hold the fruit in one layer.  Sprinkle the dish with sugar.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Lay the cherries in the pan in one layer, cut side down.

Using a mixer (or whisk) beat the eggs until foamy. Slowly add the honey and beat until foamy and thick.  Add the vanilla extract or scrape the vanilla seeds into the mixture.  In a separate bowl, stir together the flour,  baking soda and salt together.  Add to the egg mixture and beat until thick and smooth.  Add the half-and-half (or cream and milk), stirring to combine.  Slowly pour the mixture over the fruit in the prepared gratin pan and bake for about 20 minutes, until clafouti is browned on top and a knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Sift confectioners sugar over top.  Serve warm or room temperature.  Serves 8 (easily).

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