Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Everybody's doing it ... clafouti, that is

Well, clafouti recipes are popping up all over this time of the year, because of all the fresh fruit. Clafouti's a very french dessert, but I'm not picky. This one's turned out to be a particular hit; I got the main ideas for it from some TV show, I think. One of the main differences with many recipes around for this is that I use cream, where most call for some blend of half-and-half and milk, with sometimes a little cream. I'm not sure it makes a huge difference, but it stands to reason that it would make some. The other is the fruit I use.

Sometimes I remember to butter and sugar my Pyrex dish, sometimes I don't. Doesn't seem to make a huge amount of difference with the fruit I currently use. Now, the fruit ...

The recipe is traditionally made with cherries. I like to eat fresh cherries, but I've never been overly fond of them cooked. not sure why .... I started making this clafouti dish the current summer, when I was looking for an alternative to crumble. So far I've mostly gone with strawberries, rhubarb and blueberries. I like the mix of sweet and sour here, a lot. For the quantities below, I do about one to one and a half punnets of strawberries, just washed and halved, the bigger ones., a small container of blueberries (approx half a pound), and two thirds of a pound of rhubarb - also approximately. The strawberries and blueberries I just throw in. The rhubarb I wash and chop without shaking off too much moisture, toss in a bowl with sugar to taste (any sugar you like, won't make a difference) and nuke in the microwave for three to five minutes, depending on quantity. It needs to start falling apart, or at least be soft. You really can't cook it too much, but if you're not careful it will explode in the microwave ......

I take a normal-sized pyrex dish and maybe remember to butter it, and sprinkle some sugar in it, or maybe not ...... you can go with the extra large one by upping the strawberries to two containers, and the rhubarb to one pound or a little more, and upping the dose of the paste ingredients below by one third-ish. I then throw the fresh fruit in it, and take my nuked rhubarb and spread it on top.

I then turn the over on at 375. Now, the batter ... clafouti is basically a form of sweet crepe batter. Here's what I use, more or less

1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs (or 3 extra large), at room temperature - I mostly find large eggs at the market
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cream (I do a little less if I have four large eggs as opposed to 3XL)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
some grated lemon zest (half, to 2 lemons, depending on your taste)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons of your liqueur of choice (tried Grand Marnier, and Vin Santo, both worked really well)

I beat the eggs and sugar until fluffy - easy to do this with a stand mixer at med-high speed and the paddle attachment. With a whisk it might be a bit of a strain, but I'd say go at it for three or four minutes. Add everything else, and mix thoroughly, at low speed in the stand mixer. That is it. pour it in, and dump it in the preheated over for about 35 minutes, maybe a little more. You want it to brown a bit on top.

I've eaten this cold, with a spoon scraping through the pan. It's that good. But, if you want to top it with something, my favorite is creme fraiche (and a bit of confectioner's sugar). This works fine warm - in fact you probably want it to settle for a half hour or so before you pull it out. Or even room temperature. If you serve it on the warmer side, there's always your favorite ice cream.
Fruit wise, I think you can make this with pretty much everything. Now that the Chico folks selling blueberries at the Ferry building are done for the year, and rhubarb is almost through as well, I'll probably try peaches or nectarines. Pears will be great in winter, and cooked apples would also be a hit, I'd bet. You could match the liqueur to the fruit - peach schnapps, anyone? You could melt some chocolate in a double boiler with a touch of milk, reduce your batter a bit, and pour the chocolate in after the batter, and swirl it around, as suggested in our local paper just this last week.

Bottom line, this is really easy to do, and I can imagine lots of things that would work with it. Have fun ....


Joanne said...

I've also made clafoutis with seasonal fruit of a mix of white and yellow peaches (mid-summer) and caramelized gravenstein apples (early fall) with great results :)

- Joanne - www.ForkandBottle.com

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