Friday, 13 July 2012

Almost clafouti

A pudding for Bastille Day



Some of the best recipes stem from a revolution of culinary proportions or an accident involving ingredients.The following story is a combination of both.Clafoutis is a French batter pudding generously dotted with black cherries, or in non-classic versions of the dish, other seasonal fruits. In most versions, while the clafouti bakes, the batter puffs up around the fruit and browns, becoming slightly crusty on the top of the soft, custardy centre.Last night I needed to find an original dessert recipe to impress some discerning guests that I was going to feed it to, and who have dined at Casa Rosada on previous occasions.The recipe I found was "Ricotta tart with cherries".I had lovely Portuguese cherries, I had Italian ricotta and Marsala wine, eggs, honey and sugar. So while cheerfully having done all my research I sing, “Can I bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy? Can I bake a cherry pie darling Billy? Yes, I can bake a cherry pie, ...So what was I waiting for? At this point I was still unaware that the finished product would be a variation on clafoutis, the variation being that it was baked in a sweet pastry shell.
Traditional clafoutis recipes call for using cherries with their pits still in, which are supposed to lend a subtle almond flavour to the dish.Unstoned cherries also hold together better, and make for good spitting contests. I'd place apricots and plums in joint second place, small peaches and nectarines joint third. Needless to say, anything larger than a cherry should be halved and stoned: the stones aren't nearly as good for spitting contests. If using larger halved fruit, place it in the tart shell  with cut surface down before pouring in the batter, rather than this recipe that calls for mixing the cherries into the batter first. In this recipe however the pits are removed (royal pain in the butt), making the clafouti easier to eat,and what the heck my tart turned out having a distinct flavour of almonds anyway.
There are dozens of different clafoutis, each unique to their owner and I have now made this particular one my own. I find it has just the right texture between custard and cake. A smidge of icing sugar finishes it off, and a small smattering of fresh cherries along with splash of Marsala wine give this clafoutis a certain je ne sais quoi. If you're a fan of desserts with little work and a lot of payoff, then clafoutis is the way to go.
As I put the plates with the pudding before my guests I had to think quickly of how to announce this pudding that had previously been advertised as "Ricotta tart with cherries" they said "so you haven´t gone to a lot of trouble for us?!!!!!" my answer....
"Oh this?! It's just a simple French clafoutis I knocked up. Nothing fancy.")

variation on the theme of clafouti
I had a quantity of batter left over after I filled the tart shell so I made a variation on the theme - an individual clafouti baked in a ramekin.

Ricotta tart with Cherries (variation on a theme of clafouti )

1 quantity of sweet pastry (Pate sucre)

FOR THE FILLING
350g fresh ricotta or requeijao
2 eggs plus 2 extra egg yolks ( save the whites)
60g honey
teaspoon ground cinnamon
20ml Marsala wine
35g caster sugar
250g fresh cherries,stoned and halved (or small red plums)

FOR THE MERINGUE ( this is where I started to question the recipe)
the 2 saved whites from above plus one extra
35g caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C/325F/gas mark 3
Roll out the pastry and use it to line a 25cm loose bottomed tart tin.
Line the pastry shell with baking parchment,fill with baking beans or rice and bake blind for 5 minutes.Remove the beans or rice and parchment and bake for afurther 5 minutes or until the pastry is lightly coloured around the rim.Turn down the heat to 150C/300F/gas mark2.
Put the ricotta,eggs and egg yolks,honey,cinnamon,Marsala and sugar into a bowl,whisk together,then add the cherry halves.Make the meringue by whisking the egg whites until you can achieve a trace in it with the whisk,then very slowly add the sugar,whisking continuously, until the mixture is firm and forming stiff peaks. Take a third of the meringue mix and fold carefully into the ricotta mixture, then fold in the rest very gently.
Spread the mixture over the pastry base and bake for 15-20 minutes,or until golden.Leave to cool to room temperature.To serve,dust a thin layer of icing sugar over the top of each slice through a fine sieve.Serve with a garnish of fresh cherries on the side.

1 comment:

  1. Perfect! Another case of culinary serendipity! God I love cherries, although I may be turning into a cherry at the moment as I am working my way through my own (not inconsiderable) body weight in fresh sweet cherries!

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