(Vicki James) I think of cherries as the jewels of summer. They are as deeply colorful as rubies, and like fine gems, they are rare, only with us a short time each year. Sadly, cherry season will soon be coming to an end. Make the most of this glorious fruit in the waning days of summer. Make clafoutis!
I love to eat cherries unembellished and plain. In fact, while I was pregnant with my daughter, I once ate two pounds at one sitting. I couldn’t control myself! They were just so good! It’s probably the reason my daughter is so brilliant and beautiful ( not that I’m prejudiced). Fortunately, cherries are not only very good, but are also very good for you, and loaded with helpful nutrients. They are high in folate, which is excellent for fetal development. So if you are preggers, chow down! While I find it almost impossible to get enough of plain old cherries, occasionally it’s nice to use them in a recipe. My husband has no interest in uncooked cherries, but he gobbled this yummy dessert right down.
Clafoutis is a recipe that originated near Limoges, France. It’s fast and easy and I’m sure you will love it.
1 pound cherries (pitted)
1/3 cup sugar plus another ¼ cup, divided
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup evaporated milk
A sprinkle of sliced almonds
Confectioners sugar for dusting
Tip: if you don’t have evaporated milk in the cupboard, you needn’t make a run to the store. Cream, half and half, and sour cream work just as well. In fact, the second time I made it, I was well into the recipe when I realized I was out of half and half as well as evaporated milk. I substituted low fat sour cream and it turned out even better.
Place rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Coat a 9 inch glass quiche dish or other small, shallow baking dish with cooking spray. Combine cherries, 1/3 cup sugar in the dish. Bake until cherries are tender and juicy, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, beat the eggs, flour, vanilla and ¼ cup sugar in mixing bowl until smooth. Whisk in evaporated milk, or whatever else you decide to use instead. As I said, I personally like it better made with low fat sour cream.
Remove the cherries from the oven and drain the juices into a small bowl. You can try holding back the fruit with a metal spatula, or you can use a largish sieve over a bowl, as I did.
Reserve the juices. Arrange the cooked cherries in a single layer in the dish. Pour the egg mixture over the cherries. Scatter sliced almonds over the top. In fact, scatter LOTS of sliced almonds over the top.
Bake until puffed and set, 12 to 15 minutes. Dust with confectioners sugar and serve immediately, with the reserved cherry juice spooned over the top.
Now let’s talk about pitting cherries. Regardless of your chosen pitting method, it’s a pain in the butt. I have owned two fancy little cherry pitting gadgets in my time, and both of them broke at crucial moments. I no longer trust them. I have, on occasion, simply cut the cherries in half and removed the pit with my knife. The method I prefer involves a wine bottle and a chopstick. Place each cherry on top of the wine bottle, and jab the large end of a wooden chopstick through the cherry. Check to make absolutely sure the pit is no longer in the cherry. If it is, it is easily removed as most of the work has been done. When you finish, it will look as though Sweeney Todd has been barbering in your kitchen. Oh, the humanity! But when it’s all said and done, no living things, except cherries, have been harmed in the making of this recipe. Your hands will be temporarily stained crimson and like Lady Macbeth, you will be saying ,”oh damned spot, out I say.” Don’t worry, by the time you sit down to your delicious dessert, your skin will look normal again. And aren’t we supposed to be washing our hands frequently these days anyway?