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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Cherishing the Cherry Clafoutis ...

Red Cherry Clafoutis with a hint of spice to lift it to new heights and let’s not forget the old secret tradition; using cherries with pits

                                                                  Clafoutis! Clafoutis!
                                                           The cherries roll on my finger,
                                                          U loose urself, let it be, let it be
                                                         Inside my mind now u just linger.

Well that’s a new start for my blog post, with a tiny poem! A month ago when I had a box of cherries in my hand, I rubbed my chin for what all I’ll be making with them, as it turned out I made only clafoutis, the rest I ate simply. Now I always tend to believe that fruits are always best eaten alone not just for their nutritional values also because I feel their flavor is reduced at the end of it. So before making the clafoutis I had my doubts which got cleared away to some extent after I made it. You can guess why? Because the clafoutis was delicious.

                       Clafoutis come from France, the region of Limousin, almost the central region of the country. Traditionally clafoutis is always made with black cherries, but other seasonal fruits are often used in making clafoutis such as pears, prunes, apples, cranberries, blackberries. In fact there is another name often used when any fruit other than cherries are used, known as ‘Flaugnarde’. The French pronunciation of clafoutis is ‘Klafuti’ or ‘Cla-foo-tee’. Now when we do say it like that note how it makes us smile at the end of it.

                                                      It is a baked desert of fruit, traditionally of cherries, arranged in a buttered n sugared dish and a batter is poured over the cherries without completely drowning them and then baked in the oven until it is set and starts to brown on the surface. The batter is made with eggs, milk, cream, sugar, flour, butter n basically that’s it. Now the alternations happen on this basic recipe as everyone alters it with their own taste.

In my version most importantly I've kept the whole cherries with their pits as it was done traditionally unlike the versions we most see on internet where the pits have been removed for the ease of eating! But then you remove one thing and you have to deal with the loss of flavor. And talking about the ease on eating! Come on, once you know you have made a clafoutis with whole cherries your brain automatically knows not to bite into that like a blind brain!

                                                                                 I have made two versions of clafoutis-one with the pitted cherries one without. And the result is the one made with cherries with pits, was much more flavorful n more delicious. So pits make a difference. In fact reading about it in Wikipedia taught me that the pits contain an active chemical called ‘Amygdalin’, during baking some amount of this chemical is released into the clafoutis, thus creating a delicious difference. Think about saving time also, you don’t have to pit the cherries, now isn't that nice? Now if you are serving it for your guests and if you don’t want them spitting cherry pits, then you remove it before baking knowing that it will be less delicious automatically.

                                             I have used black pepper and cloves in my versions, and guess what! Cloves go so well with the cherries, esp. the one I had, it is indeed a good combination, clove is a strong spice and we have to be careful because a little goes a long way. I used red rum to macerate the cherries along with the sugar n powdered clove n black pepper. I did not have ‘kirsch’ with me which is a cherry brandy which would've been nice but I love the flavor of red rum and so does cherries.

                                                                          While making the batter which gets poured over the cherries instead of plain butter I used ‘Beurre Noisette’ which is butter that is browned in a pan until the milk solids get separated and browned and it attains a nutty flavor. I love the flavor of that in many recipes.

So now I will take you to the recipe of clafoutis right away

For The Recipe:  you will need
For macerating the cherries
250 gm whole cherries
2-3 tsp of powdered sugar
1-1 ½ tbsp of red rum               
1 clove, slightly warmed in pan n powdered
Freshly crushed black pepper
For the batter
2 eggs
2-3 tbsp of flour
2 tbsp of powdered sugar
2 tbsp of milk
60 ml single cream
Pinch of salt
1/2 clove, warmed in a pan n powdered
Freshly crushed black pepper
1/4 -1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
20 gm of brown butter-beurre noisette
For buttering the ramekins
1 tbsp of lemon/lime zest
3 tbsp of powdered sugar
Pinch of clove powder
Some soft butter

Texture of the batter has to be a pouring liquid consistency, preferably thin n not very thick; keeping the texture in mind we can adjust the amount of milk and cream n flour or eggs.
Pre-heat the oven at 180 Celsius.

1.  First with a paring knife cut the cherries along its length around the pit but don’t separate the cherry in half, with your fingers open the two half a bit just to expose the flesh. Now when all the cherries are done sprinkle  about 2 tsp of powdered sugar mixed with the clove powder, sprinkle some crushed black pepper on them and then add 2-3 tsp of red rum over them, toss them in that and let them macerate for half to an hour.

2. Grate the lemon/lime zest and mix that with the powdered sugar n pinch of clove powder kept for buttering the ramekins. Now butter the ramekins well, pour the sugar mixture into them and move around the sugar over the butter coat so the sugar creates a coating over the butter layer. Set aside.

3.  Take 20 gm of butter in a pan and on a medium flame let it melt, you will notice hiss sound as it keeps getting warmed, when the sound ceases down it is beginning to go to become beurre noisette, lower the heat now and within a minute you will see the separated milk particles below the butter had started to go brown and the whole butter has become brown in color. This is it, take it off the heat.

4. Time to make the batter, so in a bowl whisk the two eggs lightly, then add a pinch of salt, the milk and whisk lightly again. Then add the flour and whisk so there isn't any lump n nicely combined. Now add the brown butter, vanilla extract, powdered sugar, half clove powdered, freshly crushed black pepper, the cream and whisk to combine. Bring out the cherries now, you will notice some amount of liquid has gathered at the bottom of the cherries, add this liquid to the batter and combine.

5. In the baking dish/ramekins first lay the cherries, the base should be covered with cherries and some over them press the cherries lightly to pack them tightly. Then slowly pour the batter over them so that the batter drowns the cherries almost ¾ but not completely. Some of the cherry surface should be exposed. Now place them in the oven at 180 Celsius for around 30 minutes until the batter starts to go lightly brown on the surface. The batter will rise during baking. The batter should be crusty outside and soft n gooey inside. Let it cool so you can handle them. Serve them on their own or with crème fresh.

Cherry Clafoutis is ready for you now. Dig in with a spoon when it is warm or I like it more when cold. Bon appétit.

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