Archive for June 2011

A Clafoutis To Remember

June 26, 2011

French women are famously fastidious eaters, as we all know. Unless faced with this clafoutis, that is, in which case all bets are off. Recently I watched two women (for some reason clafoutis is considered to be kind of a feminine dessert) delicately sigh their way through generous servings, and then, apologizing just a little, just for form’s sake really, dive right in to seconds.

I had always found clafoutis ( pronounced klah-foo-tee) to be a bit insipid; after all, it’s more or less fruit baked in pancake batter. But this time, combining two different recipes that I found on the French website I made the queen of clafoutis, a memorable clafoutis that will enchant all cherry lovers and encourage them to excessive consumption.  After all, cherries are only once a year, and it’s our duty to eat as many of them as possible during that sweet season.

The French believe that leaving the pits in the cherries makes the clafoutis more flavorful. It’s certainly easier on the cook, and provides lots of opportunity for playful pit-spitting and juicy red fingers when you serve the dessert.  The squeamish may pit their cherries, but if you want the real deal, leave your cherries intact.  As it were.

Cherry Clafoutis

For the cherries:
1 1/2 lbs perfectly ripe cherries, stems removed, unpitted
1 T butter
1 T sugar

For the batter:
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
a pinch of salt
5 T flour
5 T sugar
2 ounces butter
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
extra butter for topping

In a large non-stick pan melt the 1T butter and 1T sugar.  Add the cherries and let them slowly caramelize over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the juices begin to run and the cherries look glazed, about 10-15 minutes.  Butter a 9×13″ pan and place the cherries in it, distributing them evenly.

Preheat oven to 350° and while the cherries are cooling a bit, prepare the batter. Melt the butter in a small pan or bowl and set aside.  Beat the eggs well with the salt, using a whisk. Beat in the sugar, then sprinkle in the flour while continuing to whisk until batter is smooth.

Mix together the milk, melted butter, and vanilla and add it to the dry mixture, stirring until thoroughly combined. Pour the batter carefully over the cherries in the pan, being careful to keep the fruit evenly distributed.  Generously dot the top with little slivers of butter.  Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the top is puffed and deeply golden. Serve warm or at room temperature, warning your guests about the pits.

Strawberry Marzipan Tart

June 12, 2011

Here’s a summery treat that’s pretty irresistible, comes together in a flash, and will disappear before your very eyes. Actually, that’s true in two ways, first because your family and friends will dive right in, and second, because it’s a fragile little tart and doesn’t keep at all, so you want to encourage second helpings, or even thirds.

I’ve had this recipe for so long that I don’t know where it came from, but I’m guessing it was in the inimitable Sunset Magazine, somewhere in the 1970s. It’s not at all dated, though, and now’s the moment to whip one up, before the sweet strawberries of early summer give way to cherries, because then you’ll be wanting to make a clafoutis, and I’ll be wanting to give you the recipe for the best clafoutis ever. So gather a group of strawberry-lovers, and here we go.

Strawberry Marzipan Tart

For the crust:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
2 T powdered sugar

Whirl these together in the food processor to a fine powder. That’s right, there’s no liquid at all in this crust. Press the powder firmly into a tart pan and chill for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425° and bake the chilled crust for 8-10 minutes, until uniformly golden.  Let cool.

For the filling:
1/2 cup almond paste
1 egg white
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 T butter, softened
1/4 tsp almond extract

Without washing the food processor after making the crust, whirl filling ingredients together until smooth and creamy.  Spread on the cooled crust.

To assemble:
1 large basket ripe strawberries
jelly for glazing – I use guava
sliced, toasted almonds

Wash and dry strawberries, remove stem, and slice them in half. Arrange the strawberries decoratively on the marzipan filling. Heat the jelly slightly to liquefy it and brush it lightly over the strawberries to make them shine. Fill in the spaces between the berries with the lightly toasted almonds.

Don’t make this more than a couple of hours ahead of time, and try not to have leftovers, unless you want pudding. The crust has a tendency to dissolve into the filling, and although you will still have a delicious goo, goo it will be. It’s of the moment, a carpe diem sort of thing, just like sweet summer itself.