I can’t lie; I love cherries, even the disgusting Maraschino variety, that I must see placed atop my Hot Fudge Sundae to make it “official.” Of course I love cherry pie, but really on of my favorite ways to create an easy cherry treat is a Cherry Clafouti, the classic country French dessert, cherries topped with a humble one-bowl pancake-like batter and baked. Voilà another Bijouxs.
Clafouti (pronounced “Kla-foo-tee”) was a recipe I began making when I was just cutting my teeth as a cook, it’s French, the center of the universe for any young cook. Over the years I have learned some things, quite by accident, about making this dish.
I began baking clafouti in a deep-sided ovenproof baking dish, standard method. When however, I was gifted by my neighbor a Lodge 12-quart cast iron Dutch oven (that was our attempt at emergency preparedness – a giant Dutch oven, complete with tripod stand and video of how to cook anything over a campfire/hearth) I discovered baking clafouti in a Dutch oven, brilliant. The high sides of the Dutch oven ensure one thing – you can never have a batter spill, and the cast iron creates a consistently crisp brown crust. The Dutch oven acquisition then led to the purchase of yet another cookbook The Magic of Fire by Willam Rubel, which details the history, methods and recipes for fireplace/campfire cooking, but only if you are a never TMI person like me.
The best cherries to use for this recipe are referred to as Morello cherries or tart, sour, or pie cherries. I have been using the jarred Morello cherries from Trader Joe’s, and whenever I can find them I buy multiples to have on hand. Depending where you live, tart, sour or pie cherries may be available in cans or frozen, the important thing to consider is if they are not sweetened, taste them first, you may need to prepare as if they were going into a pie. King Orchards has information about using tart cherries. You can also use any canned or frozen sweet variety of cherries, just steer very clear of any canned cherry pie filling or heavily sweetened product.
Being the great lover of cherries that I am, I just had to find a way to use the beautiful cherry liquid reserved from draining the cherries, so on a whim the Cherry-Balsamic glaze was born. Reduction is a simple but important cooking method, one of the little Bijouxs of cooking school. I placed the reserved liquid from the cherries in a small copper pan over a medium high heat, added some balsamic vinegar and reduced to a thin, but very intense sour-sweet cherry glaze. Perfect to drizzle over the warm clafouti and of course it would never hurt to add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream as well.
Clafouti is not just for cherries. Berries, apples, pears, even bananas that have first been sautéed in a little butter and brown sugar before adding to the batter, are all great clafouti material. Cherry Clafouti, a classic Bijouxs.
P.S. The impetus for baking in a giant Dutch oven when it is still 90 degrees outside was a recent “mini” reunion of the dear family of friends that once made up “the compound”; a cluster of residences where laughter and great cooking took place on a daily basis. All, as always, had great fun.
*Morello Cherries are currently available at Trader Joe’s retail locations.
P.S.S. The Food Network link includes the Alton Brown method to bake the clafouti over charcoal coals, just case some of you are intrigued by the campfire cooking method.
Update on Saturday, October 2, 2010 at 7:31PM
Please note the original recipe omitted the number of eggs. Please see corrected post and recipe card. Thank you to a reader for alerting me to this error.
Stay tuned for a new and improved Bijouxs website at the end of October.
As always, I thank you to all of you for your patience as I move forward to bring you the Bijouxs.
As always, enjoy. B