Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Cherry Blueberry Clafoutis

I had it in mind to make a blueberry clafoutis, but much to my chagrin, I found that the berries at the bottom of my small basket were beyond saving, much like the fresh raspberries I have had such bad luck with this year. I ended up adding some frozen black cherries to dish and the combination of fruits was delicious.
The recipe is only a slight variation on my favorite Pear Clafoutis, and while I love that one, it is a simple fact that ripe pears are harder to obtain and have a shorter season than cherries and blueberries - especially since the berries can be frozen with little detriment to their texture. An additional benefit is that the berries do not take any of the prep work that pears do. The finished product might not look quite as elegant as the sliced pear dish, but it makes up for any visual shortcomings in color - and in taste, of course.
The clafoutis is incredibly easy to make, with everything coming together in mere seconds in the food processor. A one step, one bowl recipe is incredibly forgiving, so even a complete beginner should be able to make this work.
Once baked, the finished dish is slightly eggy, like custard, but has a completely unique texture, somewhere between a custard and a cake. It is more dense on the bottom than the top and develops a slight "crust" where it comes in contact with the baking dish, but the whole thing is quite tender. The berries really shine in with the plain background flavors, but you could experiment with different extracts or spices if you wish. Cherries with cinnamon and vanilla would be delicious, and blueberries with lemon extract for part of the vanilla would be lovely, as well.

Cherry Blueberry Clafoutis
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk ( I used skim)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
2 cups black cherries and blueberries, mixed, fresh or frozen*

Preheat oven to 425F.
Lightly grease a a 9-10 inch round baking dish (the pie dish I used was 9.5-in).
In a food processor, blend all remaining ingredients, except berries, until smooth, about 10-15 seconds (This can be whisked by hand, as well).
Place fruit on the bottom of the baking dish and pour egg mixture on top of it.
Bake for 15 minutes at 425F, then turn oven down to 350F and bake an additional 20-25 minutes, until clafoutis is light golden brown and a tester comes out clean. Holding the oven door open for a 30-40 seconds will help to reduce the oven temperature when you lower it.
Let it cool for at least 20-30 mintues before serving. The clafoutis will sink slightly as it cools.
Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
Serves 6.

*Note: If using frozen, quickly rinse and pat them dry before using, since sometimes frozen berries have a lot of extra juice frozen to the outsides of the fruit.