One day in high school, soon after receiving my driver’s license, my mom sent me to the grocery store to get a few items for dinner. Always eager for a drive by myself, I happily obliged. When I arrived at the grocery store, I saw these beautiful fresh red cherries staring back at me. As if to further assert my independence, I strayed from the list and got, well, a lot, to make sure that my entire family would have enough. I knew that my mom would be proud of me for getting something so nutritious for once!
I got back home, dropped the groceries on the counter and went to my room. My mom immediately called me downstairs. She had taken the receipt out of the bag to notice that the cherries cost $12.99/lb, and I happened to purchase a whopping three pounds of them (I had no concept that credit card = money at that time). My best friend of a mother, who is possibly the least intimidating person in the world ever, coldly stared at me with steely eyes. I silently gulped as she told me that I should have every intention of eating every single one of those cherries because each of them is like gold.*
What resulted from this is that I rarely baked with cherries. Cherries were meant to be seen and not bought. I exaggerate. I bought them to eat, of course (with my mom’s permission, even after high school), but I never thought that I could appreciate “every single one of them” if they were baked into a cobbler.
This is all until last week when I saw that cherries were on sale! I had never seen such a sight! I picked two 2lb. bags of cherries, having every intention to bake with them. I’ve never had such freedom to use cherries in my life! And it was so so sweet.
As was this clafouti, which is like a big, thick pancake like cake. Very eggy, sweet and satisfying. But most of all, to my surprise, I think that I valued every single cherry that was thrown into the pan, in this cherry-filled treat. And savored every last one of them. Thanks to my mom, of course.
*In defense of my lovely mother who will not be so appreciative of this post, I stretched the truth a bit here. She was not so scary at the time (c’mon, “steely eyes”??), though I did learn my lesson. Did you like the truth in the story? I didn’t either! Exaggerated story wins.
Cherry Clafouti (recipe found here)
This is a Julia Childs’ recipe! Not one to be messed with. But I did, anyway. Ever-so-slightly. Which was a mistake. I noticed that all fresh cherry recipes have just a smidge of almond extract in it. So I added 1/2 tsp. What was I thinking?! I don’t even like almond extract! It gave this a bit of a artificial taste, which was, well, not pleasing. But I will suggest this: this recipe was very very sweet. Almost too sweet to the point where you were not able to taste the freshness of the cherries. I am tempted to say that you may want to cut the sugar by half. That’s a lot, I know. But this clafouti is screaming for a sprinkling of powdered sugar after it’s baked. And you can adjust the sweetness level there.
1 1/4 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar, divided in half (original recipe called for 2/3 cups – see headnote)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 cups fresh cherries, pitted
powdered sugar, for dusting after baked
Preheat oven to 350. Butter an 8 cup casserole dish. In a blender, mix together milk, half of the sugar, eggs, vanilla, all purpose flour and salt, until completely smooth. Pour a 1/4 inch layer of the mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes until almost set. Sprinkle cherries evenly over baked mixture. Sprinkle the remaining sugar evenly on top of cherries. Pour the rest of the batter on to the cherries. Bake for about 50-60 minutes until browned, set and tester comes out clean. Let cool for about 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, slice and serve.