When the days get warm I’m sure you’ve noticed that the produce changes with the season. The first warm days of May usually announce the arrival of cherries. Cherries remind me of one thing most strongly. Cherry Clafouti. A delicious French dessert that’s wrapped up in all the romance of the season.
But maybe your romance and my romance don’t quite see eye to eye. Maybe you’re not familiar with clafouti. Well, pardonnez moi. Let me explain myself and my romance with Cherry Clafouti.
To start off it’s a dessert that is properly called clafoutis, even in the singular. But in English speaking countries the S is usually dropped. That’s because when those wacky French people put an S at the end of a word, they don’t even bother to pronounce it. So CLAFOUTIS or CLAFOUTI are both pronounced kla-FOO-tee.
I have to admit this lesson in French pronunciation has sparked something in my ancestral memory. Something from very long ago. Back when I was a snooty Francophile. Watch what you are thinking I said WAS…
There was a time when I sought out only the Frenchiest of taste sensations. Anything that would transport me back to my imaginary childhood in the south of France. Those lazy golden (and entirely made up) days when I sat under the chestnut tree… une boîte in hand with mes amis. Those imaginary afternoons were always centered on food. These were the glittering days of spring when ma mère would be dancing about her wood burning stove concocting some amuse bouche for me to enjoy. Something light and seasonal.
Inevitably during these pretend days of May we would have an overabundance of cherries freshly picked by Gaston (another character who only existed inside my head).
I’m sort of teasing here, but in reality, I did go through a snooty Francophile phase. Only I lived in Santa Barbara and I was in college. I think I still have my beret. Anyway, it was during that time that I first had Cherry Clafouti and I had it as a recommendation from Julia Child herself. She lived in Santa Barbara then too. And by recommendation, I mean I overheard her talking to someone else about it as I skulked near her table in a restaurant. I just had the feeling she wanted to meet me. But fate stepped in and she walked out the door without introducing herself…
Which is why cherries will always remind me of sunny days in May. So, here we are having another sunny day in May, and I want to share Cherry Clafouti with you. It’s not hard to make, there’s really only one thing to get right and that’s the texture. Cherry clafouti should be neither cakey nor too much like pudding. It shouldn’t even be as firm as custard. Somewhere in between is just right. It should fall in on itself when it’s scooped from the plate.
Another thing. Snooty Francophiles such as myself believe that you should never pit your cherries. The cherry pits cooked into the dessert adds a subtle, almost imperceptible almond flavor. But I’ve served enough clafoutis to my friends to know that pits are not really embraced by most North Americans. So in this version, I’ve added an ounce of roughly chopped almonds and two ounces of dried sour cherries. Which solves that problem very nicely. GREG