As I've probably written here many times before, stone fruits—peaches, nectarines, plums and cherries—are my absolute favorite fruits. Cherries with their crunch, deep red color, and juicy flesh always bring me so much pleasure. It's easy for me to eat bowlfuls in one sitting. My favorite part of summer has always been waiting for the stone fruits to ripen, picking up cherries and sour cherries at the Greenmarket, and visiting local farms to pick peaches and plums right from the trees. Summer just wouldn't be summer without enjoying all its fruitful bounties.
A classic French clafoutis (kla-foo-tee) is one of the best desserts that uses cherries. It is traditionally made with dark sweet cherries or black cherries, but when made with other fruit it is more commonly called a flognarde. Last season I made a plum flognarde using the dark, oblong Italian prune plums. Served just slightly warm, a clafoutis or a flognarde is an ideal dessert in summer. Garnish with a dusting of confectioners' sugar and—if you're so decadently inclined—a dollop of whipped cream or crème fraîche. It looks like an impressive dessert but it's very easy to make.
If you know how to use a blender, then you are all set to make a clafoutis. The custard-like batter is beaten together just like you would do for crêpes. Then pour it over the cherries in a buttered baking dish. In France it is customary to leave the pits in the cherries, but I think it's a lot nicer for my guests if I pit them. My technique is to use a drinking straw to poke the pit out from the fruit. It's easy, just a tiny bit messy, but it works extremely well. Use any cherries in this recipe, even sour cherries, but you will have to add a lot more sugar. Enjoy all the cherries of the season.
1 pound sweet cherries, pitted
2 plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon brandy
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons melted butter, plus more for pan
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 10-inch glass pie dish.
Combine the pitted cherries with brandy and 2 tablespoons sugar. Let macerate for 10 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, remove cherries to the baking dish, reserving the liquid.
In a blender, combine flour, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, salt, milk, eggs, butter, vanilla, and liquid from cherries. Pulse until incorporated, scraping down the sides if needed. Pour batter over cherries. Bake for 40 minutes until batter is set and golden brown. Let cool before serving. Dust over with confectioners' sugar. Yield: 6 servings.