This dish reminds me of three wonderful women: two I have known and loved, all I’ve admired. First, Julia Child. Who hasn’t been inspired by Julia Child? I have many of her books, including a copy of her classic “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” with her recipe for cherry clafoutis. Julia had so many words of wisdom but who can forget her classic statement during the butter-is-bad hysteria, “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream!”?
On a more personal level, there was Mrs. Mena, who lived next door to us when Emily was little. Mrs. Mena lived with her daughter and another friend- it was like living next door to the Golden Girls! We all loved to cook and food was constantly going back and forth between our homes. Originally from Mexico City, Mrs. Mena made the most incredible flan, with crushed almonds on the bottom.
And my favorite of these three women, my dear Grandmother. Grace Pearl was a delightful woman who loved to entertain and who herself was very entertaining! She loved cherries and as luck would have it, she had a cherry tree in her yard. We would climb the cherry tree as kids and she would make incredible pies with our haul.
Clafoutis is a comforting blend of these memories, as any good comfort food should be. It’s a classic dessert, and is quite easy to make. Pitting the cherries is easier with a good cherry pitter – OXO makes one that works really well.
The finished dish is loaded with cherries, baked in a creamy custard complete with toasted crushed almonds nestled in among the fruit.
1-1/2 cups half-and-half
¾ cup sugar
3 extra large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup flour
3 cups pitted cherries
¼ cup toasted slivered almonds, slightly crushed
Lightly coat a deep-dish pie pan or small baking dish with a cooking spray. Sprinkle the crushed almonds across the bottom of the baking dish.
Spread the cherries out in a single layer over the almonds.
In a blender, add the half-and-half, the sugar, the eggs, vanilla and almond extract, kosher salt and the flour.
Blend on medium low speed about 1 minute until smooth.
Pour over the cherries and almonds.
Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until golden around the edges and just set. Be careful not to over bake.
Serve warm or room temperature. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Warm Cherry Clafoutis with just a bit of vanilla ice cream!