Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Like I said last week, it’s cherry season! For the past two weeks, the farmer’s market has been a veritable carpet of deep red and black sweet cherries. The farmers have been very vocal in their encouragement that we buy up their stock, particularly one woman who has pretty much be braying how much she detests strawberries but loves cherries on a continuous loop. Kind of weird, but she did compliment my blue nail polish, so all was forgiven.

Anyway, I spent an excellent week mainlining cherries, then decided it was time to do something with them, specifically, make a clafoutis. Clafoutis is a traditional French dessert made with lots of cherries in a little batter. The batter is egg-heavy, with just a little sugar and flour, but it contains more cherry than cake--a great way to feature cherries in season.

First, macerate about a pound and a half of cherries in a few ounces of kirsch. Hoookay, first problem--who keeps kirsch around the house, honestly? It's a clear cherry brandy from Germany, and used in fondue and cakes when not drunk straight. But, it being Sunday, I had no way of getting any kirsch at short notice. So I substituted maraschino instead.

What's maraschino? Why it's an Italian cherry liqueur (as opposed to a German brandy). The main differences, as I understand it by tasting them both in days gone by, is that maraschino has a richer and sweeter flavor, whereas kirsch is stronger and dryer. I figured that in a cake, the difference wouldn't matter so much (in a cocktail the difference would make or break it), and since my cocktail geek husband had a nice bottle of maraschino in the liquor cabinet, it would serve.

So! The cherries macerate in the liqueur for an hour, releasing their juices and taking on that tasty liqueur flavor.

When the cherries are done, beat six eggs...

Then add some sugar, flour, and vanilla.

The batter will be liquidy... almost like pancake batter. Fold the cherries in, and pour into a buttered and sugared pan, then shove it in the oven at 450 degrees for 40 minutes.

Or... so I thought.

After about 20 minutes in the oven, the clafoutis had completely puffed out of its pan, and was starting to burn. OH MY GOD!!! I freaked, thinking it would lead to horrible burned-on-the-outside, raw-on-the-inside bad times. I even TURNED DOWN THE HEAT IN MY OVEN (wow such a bad baking idea) to try to fix the issue. When the thing came out after 40 minutes, it was looking a little grim...

But a knife stuck in the middle came out dry, so I decided to slice things up. I served with a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

And guys, it was really good! Even the burned bits were nice--turned out, the batter puffed so much that only a thin layer was burned, but most of the batter was a creamy, eggy deliciousness. The cherries, soaked in their maraschino, were completely delicious. In fact, it was even better the next day over a cup of milky coffee.

I absolutely loved this dessert and will make it again as soon as possible... maybe with some oven tweaks.

Lessons learned: Maraschino is an ok sub for kirsch in baking (not cocktails); maybe it is time to recalibrate my oven (how do you even do that with an ancient gas oven?)

Next week: Not sure... I might do a non-Les Halles post.

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