I love cherries, and what can I say? I just love pairing them with chocolate. So today, I thought I’d bring you a more traditional cherry dessert that even the most timid bake-o-phobe could handle: a Chocolate Cherry Clafouti.
The clafouti (a.k.a. clafoutis) is a French dessert, that essentially, is like a pancake with a little more emphasis on the “cake” part of “pancake.” Its simple, light, fluffy, and meant to be whipped up quickly and eaten up just as fast. Traditionally, this treat is loaded with fruit, most often cherries, so in keeping with tradition, I’ve done just that. But since I couldn’t help myself, I chose to push this dessert a little bit in the chocolate direction, giving the cake batter itself some darker, chocolatey flavors.
One point of contention out there is how to present the cherries in the clafouti. Many prefer that the cherries be unpitted because it makes for easier eating. Others argue that cooking the cherries with the pits in enhances the flavor and imparts a subtle, almondy note that pairs nicely. I honestly couldn’t tell you if that’s true or not, but I can tell you which is easier as the one making the dessert: leave the pits in! As long as everyone eating knows the pits are there, they’ll bite with care and not break a tooth. Plus, am I the only one who enjoys spitting out cherry pits? You be lazy–make those eating your dessert do some work. 😉
Whatever side you choose on this debate, this is a delicious dessert that is sure to please any cherry-loving guest, and the best part is you don’t have to wait hours and hours for it–this is best almost immediately after it comes out of the oven so you can succumb to your temptation to just dive in face first while its still warm and poofed up from the oven, the cake ready to deflate and the cherries softened and ready to burst in your mouth. This was derived from Julia Child’s version in Mastering The Art of French Cooking, Volume One, and as such, I’m submitting it to the 3rd Annual Julia Child Birthday Celebration, an event focused on food from Julia’s collection of great recipes.
- 3+ cups cherries, stems removed, pits remain
- 1.25 cups whole milk
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 3/8 cup flour
- 1/8 cup cocoa powder
- Optional: chocolate chips/chunks
Even if you’re not going to pit the cherries, unfortunately you do still have to stem them. This is certainly a much cleaner affair though than having to pop each one in half. Or if you’re so inclined, pit them now.
And now remember when I said this dessert is easy? Here’s how easy it is: add the milk, half of the sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, flour, and cocoa powder in the blender/food processor and blend it for a minute or two. I know, such great care and fine technique!
Now, grease a cake pan and preheat your oven to 350°F. Pour a very thin (like 1/4 inch tall) amount of the cake batter into the pan and set this over your stove top on medium heat for a minute or to. You should notice that this will cook and set that thin layer of batter, giving your clafouti an established bottom (preventing the cherries from just sinking right to the bottom of your cake pan later, for instance). Remove from heat.
Now, add in the cherries, spreading them out evenly and topping off with the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar. If you’re using chocolate chips/chunks, throw them in now as well (I used a mix of white and dark chocolate, thinking it would look good, but in the end, you couldn’t visibly distinguish it, so don’t bother trying to be stylish here). Finally, pour in the batter.
Now, simply transfer this to the oven and bake for about 1 hour. The clafouti should be puffed and browned when its done and you should be able to knife the center and have it come out clean.
Remove from the oven and promptly dust with some confectioner’s sugar and dig in while its hot. Enjoy!