This cold cherry clafoutis is a variation on a rustic French dessert. Traditionally the French serve clafoutis warm. That way it has an almost pudding-like consistency. However, because I prefer mine firmer, more like chess pie, I chilled the clafoutis. I also added a cherry syrup/sauce made from the cherry pits with some of the reserved Amaretto liqueur.
My inspiration came from a Cherry Clafoutis featured in SeriousEats. However, I took so many liberties with the structure and ingredients of that recipe that I’m OK if the SeriousEats folks want to completely disown this version. And in a last minute moment of serendipity, Stella Parks (a/k/a BraveTart) inspired the syrup/sauce. (If you’re into surprises, you have got to try this syrup/sauce – it’s both amazing and delicious. Watching the pits give up the syrup and mixing it with the Amaretto definitely brought out the mad scientist in me.)
Unlike traditional fresh-out-of-the-oven clafoutis, this one does not require turning the oven on when your guests are at the door. It is delicious cool or cold, hours or even the day after it is baked.
Because the clafoutis contains eggs and has the consistency of custard, it should be refrigerated once it cools. Remember my experience figuring out which Thanksgiving pies need to be refrigerated? While a French food traditionalist might cringe, I actually like this clafoutis cold even better than cool, and the next day it was incredible for breakfast, with a strong cup of coffee.
And when I thought about how to describe this dessert, my first thoughts went to countries other than France. As we ate it, I kept think of it as a flan or Dutch baby with embedded fruit. So, yes it’s sort of French, but then again ….
Of course, if you prefer, you may serve this cherry clafoutis straight out of the oven, I’m not going to complain or give you grief. All I can say, is that you’ll want to leave at least a little to try when it’s cold. Trust me.
More than one source I consulted described traditional cherry clafoutis as an eggy, pancake-like batter poured over unpitted cherries. I don’t mind risking a raised eyebrow from a guest who happens upon a single, errant pit. Still, I cannot imagine serving a clafoutis full of pits, hoping that my guests don’t mind spitting them out.
Besides, I don’t mind removing the pits; it’s a form of meditation. With my treasured cherry pitter, this preparation step didn’t take long.
I’ve succumbed to the charms of this gadget. But it’s not single-use; the pitter works as well for medium-size olives as it does for cherries. If you don’t have one, a wooden chopstick or a sharp knife will do the job too.
If you are not into cherry pitting, find a friend to do the job and reward her/him with a piece of the clafoutis, or use frozen or canned and pitted unsugared cherries.
Making the clafoutis is simple. The ingredients (shown without the powdered sugar for sprinkling on top) are not complicated.
The process is simple too.
Macerate the pitted cherries in liqueur and sugar.
Whisk the flour and salt. Add some of the milk.
Then add the eggs, vanilla, and the rest of the milk to create a thin batter.
Make a “skin” in the pan, which is basically a crepe cooked only on one side.
Add the drained cherries.
Add the rest of the batter, dot with butter and sprinkle with almonds.
Then bake. Mine got a bit overdone (at 25 minutes in a 425 degree F oven), but that’s OK. It still tasted incredible.
You can serve the clafoutis lukewarm or refrigerate it until well chilled. Leftovers – or the entire clafoutis if you will not serve the clafoutis for more than 2 hours after it comes out of the oven – must be refrigerated.
If you refrigerate the clafoutis for an extended period, let it warm on the counter for half an hour before serving and dusting it with confectioners’ sugar. If the top appears slightly damp, gently dab it with a paper towel before adding the confectioners’ sugar or the sugar will just disappear into the clafoutis – not a disaster, but then there is no pretty white sugar on top.
Cold Cherry Clafoutis
It's a cross between pudding and cake - a new take on a traditional French dessert that is a perfect summer dessert.
- 1/4 cup Amaretto (almond-flavored) or other liqueur
- 1 cup granulated sugar, divided Note - if not making the optional syrup/sauce, you only need 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 pound fresh cherries, pitted (reserve pits if making the optional syrup/sauce About 3 cups
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
- 1 & 1/2 cups milk, preferably whole, at room temperature
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 & 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1/2 cup sliced or slivered blanched almonds
- 1-2 & 1/2 tablespoons powdered sugar
Cherry Syrup/Sauce (optional)
- pits from the 1 pound of cherries
- rind from about 1/4 of a lime
- 1 pinch salt
Macerating the cherries
Mix the Amaretto or other liqueur and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Then add the pitted fresh cherries. Let the cherries macerate in the liqueur and sugar mixture for at least 30 minutes, preferably one hour. Toss the cherries occasionally, so that the liquid gets inside all of them. (Macerating is the fruit equivalent of marinating, a term generally reserved for vegetables or meat.)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Stir the flour and slat together in a large bowl. Whisk in about half of the milk, until the mixture is thin and smooth.
Add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each one. Then add the sugar and vanilla. Finally, add in the remaining milk and whisk until the batter is smooth. At the beginning, the batter is quite thick, but by the end it is more liquidy than pancake batter.
Melt one tablespoon of the butter in the cast iron pan. Move the butter all around so it greases the entire bottom and on the sides of the pan. Pour about 1/2 cup of the batter into the pan on a medium-high heat and tilt the pan or spread the batter with an implement. The batter should completely cover the bottom of the pan, like a crepe. Don't worry if a few bubbles appear. This step simply creates a skin onto which you put the rest of the clafoutis, and makes it easier to lift pieces out of the pan once it is done. (That technique is from Julia Child's cherry clafoutis in Mastering the Art of French Cooking.) Take the pan off the heat.
Drain the juice from the marinating cherries (reserve it for the optional cherry syrup), and place the cherries in the pan so that they do not overlap. There is no need to be obsessive - this dessert is rustic looking - but try to leave space between them. Gently pour in the rest of the batter (the cherries begin to float, so being gentle in how you pour keeps them from moving too much), then dot the top with the rest of the butter (1 & 1/2 tablespoons) and sprinkle on the sliced almonds.
To avoid drips in the oven, place a cookie sheet on the middle rack and put the pan on that sheet. Bake the clafoutis for 20-25 minutes until it is lightly browned. The USDA recommends making sure the internal temperature of the clafoutis (on an instant read thermometer) is between 160-165 degrees.
When it is fully baked, let the clafoutis cool in the pan on a wire rack until you can comfortably touch the pan handle without hot pads. Refrigerate the clafoutis and dust it generously with powdered sugar immediately before serving.
Put the pits and 1/4 cup of sugar in a small sealed jar or other glass container with the lime. Shake those ingredients to mix them. Let them macerate for 3-4 hours, shaking every once in a while, as you make and cool the clafoutis. Just before serving the clafoutis, strain the pits out and add as much of the reserved Amaretto/sugar mixture as you would like. Serve on the side.
If you don't have a 10-inch cast iron pan, another oven-proof pan, i.e. no wood or plastic works too. Another alternative is a deep dish metal pie pan. You cannot use a glass pie pan and do the "crepe skin" technique at the beginning of putting the clafoutis in the pan. However, in a pinch, you could make that as a 9-inch crepe in a pan on the stove (cooking only one side) and transfer it to a deep dish glass pie pan, proceeding from there.
This post is an updated version of one first published in 2015. The syrup/sauce and most of the photos are new.