food, photography



Chocolate-Cherry Clafoutis

I’ve only recently arrived to the world of fruit baking, which the French do quite well. Despite my obsession with Julia Child a few years ago, the first few recipes I have tried were not hers. They were from the Moosewood Desserts cookbook, introduced to me by the presence of its Whiskey Cake at a Tim Foreman party. My growing appreciation for fruit when it’s in season (even if not local) helped.

I’m also a relative newbie to enjoying custard-type desserts. As a kid and teenager, anything that was chocolate and/or ice cream got my attention first. Creamy white, varyingly congealed goo, when gloriously dark, viscous chocolatey good is an option? I thought not. Even when I lived in France. Twice.

Then in 2001, I saw Amélie, with that exquisitely cute Frenchie, showing us exactly how to enjoy a certain dessert. I started sharing Crème Brulées with Dad. My texture fetish had matured. Or, at least expanded, to include custard with a crispy top.

Then, a few years later, my husband and I enjoyed a rosemary panna cotta, with a watermelon puree moat, somewhere local. Then, we went on a vacation in Italy and enjoyed semifreddo and bunet. Lovely, gelled, sweet, creamy goo, all of it. Then I discovered how easy it is to make bread pudding, and it was all over.

I digress. Back to the fruit. Not that it’s a stretch: the moisture in fruit usually contributes to a gooey dessert, anyway.

I love cherries, but had long felt that the only way to enjoy them was fresh. They taste lovely, and pitting them is best done with the tongue. But when I read a recipe for a clafoutis that needed three cups of pitted cherries, I figured someone had found a way, and I set off to the nearest kitchen store on a mission. And I found a most excellent gadget.

Not a whole lot more needs to be said: I pitted the cherries, threw them and some chocolate bits into a dish, whirred together a few ingredients in a blender, poured, then baked. So easy, so beauteous, so delicious. The magic of baking continues to amaze and thrill me.