Cherries, Baby

Cherry Clafoutis Dessert
Photograph by Benjamin Williamson

A classic French dessert combines fresh cherries with a yummy, dense custard.

Migrant birds know precisely the moment the cherries on the tree outside our cooking school are sweet enough to eat, and they can clean its branches in an afternoon if we don’t put up nets. The crimson fruit makes an elegant addition to a clafoutis, a French egg-based dessert with a smidgen of cherry brandy and just enough flour to hold the batter together. This simple finish to a meal (or afternoon snack) must be made in a cast-iron skillet and served hot. Like a soufflé, it will deflate in just minutes, but in its first glorious moments out of the oven, it’s a thing to behold.

A tip for harvest: Let the cherries ripen on the tree for a few extra days. This will allow you to slip the fruit off the pit (which will stay attached to the tree), so there’s no need for a pitter.

Cherry Clafoutis

Serves 4–6

1¼ cups milk

6 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons kirsch or other clear fruit brandy (optional)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

6 eggs

kosher salt, to taste

¾ cup flour

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

2 cups pitted cherries, sweet or sour

confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Combine milk, sugar, brandy, vanilla, eggs, and salt in a blender and run over low speed for about 20 seconds. Then add the flour and let run for another minute or until the ingredients are well combined. Butter a 9-inch cast-iron skillet.

Pour batter into the skillet and sprinkle the cherries over the top. Bake 30–35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the clafoutis has set. Quickly dust with confectioners’ sugar, cut into 4–6 portions, and serve while still piping hot.

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