The cherries have arrived!
I wait eagerly every year for the cherries to come in season, sweet or sour, they are jewels of early summer, and part of my seasonal routine. The first thing I do is eat them right out of the bag on the way home from the farms stand. If my grandkids are in the car with me, probably none will make it home. I’ve planted a cherry tree in my garden, but have yet to beat the birds to the fruit!
The second thing I do is make a cherry clafoutis. My mom used Julia Child’s recipe, and I loved that version. I have to say I’ve fiddled with the recipe over the years, and added lots more fruit because my family complained there simply weren’t enough cherries in it, and I’ve added some spices as well, just a hint.
One of my favorite cherry rituals is to prepare brandied cherries for use all year long, and to give for gifts. They are simple to make, but one of the most luscious little adornments to come out of your kitchen. You can’t even think of using them for at least six months, and a year is even better, so making these is a lesson in patience as well.
This lovely classic is simple to make, and very much like a puffy, fruity, eggy, custardy, flan or pancake. As you can see, it has a bit of an identify crisis going on, but it is always delicious, whatever you want to call it. When cherries come in season, this is a weeknight treat for the family because it is quick to assemble. But make no mistake, it holds its own at a dinner party as well.
This recipe is a little Julia Child, a little America’s Test Kitchen, a little my mother, and a lot me! Some recipes call for roasting the cherries for 15 minutes before proceeding, and I tried this. However, I didn’t think the extra step enhanced the recipe enough to turn it from simple assembly into something more complicated (and more messy!). Simple is often best. But if you want to experiment, drain the cherries after they’ve rested for a bit and put them in a hot oven for about 15 minutes to roast them lightly and concentrate the flavor.
I like this with just over three cups of cherries, but my family loves it with way more, so that is how I make it for them. Just enough batter to hold the cherries together. I add a smidge of both ground anise and cinnamon, not enough so that they become flavors in the recipe, but just enough to make everything else a little better.
Of course, I cook this in my grandmother’s cast iron frying pan, the one my mother always used. They are always in my kitchen.
3 to 4 cups cherries, pitted
¼ cup cherry liquor, Kirsch
¼ tsp. ground anise
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cup half-and-half
3 large organic eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. almond extract
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup cake flour
Pinch of salt
Whipped cream or crème fraiche to garnish
Preheat your oven to 325°F, and place your 12” cast iron skillet, or heavy pie pan inside to heat up.
Pit your cherries, sprinkle with the Kirsch, anise, and cinnamon, and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, eggs, sugar, vanilla, almond extract, and butter until the sugar is dissolved. Add the flour and pinch of salt and beat gently. Pour half the batter into the heated pan, and bake for 10 minutes, just until starting to set.
Drain the cherries, tumble them out on top evenly, sprinkle lightly with a little more sugar, and cover with the rest of the batter.
Return to the oven and bake for another 40 to 50 minutes, check at 40. It should be puffy and brown and the house will smell great! Eat as is, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar, or top with whipped cream or my favorite crème fraiche.
Variations:You can use any seasonal fruit in this recipe New England Concord grapes, pears, peaches of course, berries, or a mixture of what you love. I love this with peaches and blueberries when they are in season here. Adjust the liquor to match or enhance the dish; lemon is never a mistake.