Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Clafouti :: a fancy name for a simple dessert

If you're like me, you still have cranberries floating around your fridge. By mid-November I'm so forlorn over the lack of a good strawberry, peach or plum. I'm already terribly sick of apples - we've eaten them straight for two months. So when November's fruits come along I'm ready. Cranberries, pomegrantes, clementines. I go crazy (crazy in relative terms - grocery store crazy). I start to hoard these little fruits like gems, buying two or three bags at a time.

But now, as January is flying by, I keep finding my stashes of cranberries around the kitchen. At this very moment, I have two Locovorious bags in the outside storage freezer, three home-frozen bags in the inside freezer, and one lonely bag, sorry looking, but still fresh in the refrigerator.

I'm looking for ways to use these puppies before they fossilize in my fridge. Sure, I could make cranberry orange bread - but one can only eat so much of that. Cranberry compote for Thanksgiving, of course. Cranberry curd. But, again? ... I guess I just bought too many cranberries.

This afternoon, I stumbled upon the clafouti, a dessert that sounds fancy, but is simple enough to throw together during dinner prep. It's one of those things I've tended to avoid. I was thrown off by the french name. Essentially a clafouti is a french pudding with two simple parts, seasonal fruit and batter. When baked, it puffs up initially because of the eggs, then settles down to the texture of a baked flan, smooth yet firm, every bite full of the tartness of the cranberries.

Tonight's recipe follows that method. First I boiled down cranberries with port and sugar. While that was happening, I made the batter in the blender, the way you would a crepe batter. This recipe from Gourmet calls for dried cranberries, but because I didn't have those I used the remainder of my fresh cranberries. Also in this version, the top is sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, mimicking the top of a brulee.

Typically you don't even have to cook the fruit. For example to make a peach clafouti in August, you'd just toss fresh ripe peaches with sugar and put them in the baking dish. If you're interested in different styles of the clafouti, check out Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child. She's got many different variations in that cooks' bible.

Cranberry Cinnamon Clafoutis

Gourmet, December 2007
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (I substituted 2 cups fresh cranberries plus 1/2 cup brown sugar)
  • 1 cup tawny Port
  • 1/3 cup rye whiskey or brandy
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar mixed with
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in upper third. Butter a 9-inch shallow baking dish.

Briskly simmer cranberries, Port, whiskey, and cinnamon in a small heavy saucepan, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until almost syrupy, 12 to 15 minutes. Pour into baking dish.

Blend together eggs, milk, butter, sugar, flour, vanilla, and salt in a blender and pour over cranberries, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake until slightly puffed and set in center, about 35 minutes. Cool clafoutis briefly on a rack.

Can be served plain, or even better with ice cream or crème anglaise.

4 comments:

MamaTina said...

We make Cranberry Frappe for Thanksgiving. Easy, keeps in the freezer and Hannah calls it "Pink ice cream" It's wonderful palette cleanser

zegliano said...

tina, what's the recipe?

Lilies of the Field said...

port, whiskey .. . seems to me someone is just finding a good excuse to have the liquor out and about on the counter.

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