Cherry Clafoutis

PHOTO BY MICHAEL PIAZZA / STYLING BY CATRINE KELTY

This is a true classic and for good reason—it’s absolutely delicious! The texture of a clafoutis can vary, from pancake-like to more custardy, depending on the recipe. This particular recipe is certainly on the custardy side. Sweet or sour cherries (or a combination of both) can be used here depending on your preference, but you might want some added sugar if you use sour cherries. A nice topping for this dessert is classic vanilla ice cream or cinnamon whipped cream.

In many French recipes for Cherry Clafoutis, the cherries are left whole and un-pitted. This serves two purposes: it keeps the cherries nice and round during the baking process but, more importantly, the pits actually add a lovely almond flavor. It's a personal preference but, for me, the bit of almond flavor isn't worth chipping a tooth or choking! Americans, in general, simply aren't used to eating any fruit dessert with pits. See below for instructions on easy cherry pitting if you don’t have a pitter.

Serves 8

1 tablespoon butter, softened
1½ pounds cherries, pitted
4 large whole eggs
2 large egg yolks
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons kirsch (cherry brandy)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup confectioner’s sugar (for dusting)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter a 9-inch baking dish or castiron skillet. Add pitted cherries and set aside. Combine eggs, yolks, sugar, salt, milk, heavy cream, vanilla, and kirsch in a blender. Blend for a few seconds, then add the flour and blend again until smooth. Pass the custard mixture through a strainer and then pour over the cherries.

Bake for 30–40 minutes or until the custard is puffy and golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the custard comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes and dust with confectioner’s sugar. Serve warm.

PITTING CHERRIES WITHOUT A PITTER

Do you have a cherry pitter in your cluttered gadget drawer? If the answer is yes, read no further. But if you, like us, have avoided buying yet another single-use tool, here are a few different ways to pit a cherry (or an olive) without a pitter.

Regardless of the method, however, your fingers, board, counter, and apron are destined to be covered with crimson cherry juice, so be prepared with plenty of wet towels to quickly clean up any accidental stains.

PARING KNIFE METHOD

If you don’t mind your cherries halved, then this is the method for you. Using a sharp paring knife, slice all around the equator of a stemmed cherry, then twist and split the two sides apart. Using your fingertips, or the tip of your knife, pluck the pit out.

CHOPSTICK METHOD

Stem the cherry, then insert the fat end of a chopstick (one you don’t mind staining) into the hollow where the stem was. Push through— with some force—to the other side, and the pit will fall right out. This leaves a whole, pitted cherry behind.

CHEF’S KNIFE/LOBSTER PICK METHOD

This is by far the messiest way, but also the easiest (and it works really well on olives, too). Stem your cherries and line them up on a cutting board. Using the side of a wide chefs knife, press down on each cherry to squash it a little, then use a lobster pick to fish around for the loose pit inside until it falls out. Whole cherries, no pits.

Lisa Sewall graduated from Johnson and Wales in Providence. She then came to Boston and worked at Biba, before going to Nantucket to work at the White Elephant, Summer House, and Wauwinet. She returned to Boston and was the Pastry Chef at L’Espalier (where she met, Jeremy, her husband.) For five years, she lived in Northern California as the opening Pastry Chef at Ondine in Sausalito. In 2006, she and Jeremy opened Lineage in Brookline. Lisa and Jeremy have three kids which keeps her out of professional kitchens for the moment!