French Countryside Cherry Clafoutis

Nothing warms the heart and soul like a cherry clafoutis fresh out of the oven. This French countryside dessert lets you make the most of seasonal produce. Peak summer season cherries contrast beautifully – deep red and glossy – against the caramelized browns of the baked clafoutis batter. Best served still warm in early July with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a glass of cognac, neat.

The Origin of the Cherry Clafoutis

Clafoutis is a dessert from the Limousin region of France, which is just east of the Charente region, where I currently live in the town of Cognac. The major city in Limousin is Limoges with a modest population of 130,000 or so people. Beyond the clafoutis, this area is also widely known for it’s high quality decorated porcelain.


Typically made with cherries, clafoutis can be made with virtually any fruit you wish. I love this quality about the clafoutis because of the opportunity to use whatever is in season. To keep it classic with cherries, the best window to get the best cherries from your local market is late May through July.

Should You Pit the Cherries?

No!

Isn’t that a bit of a relief? You might find this approach odd (“won’t it be annoying to remove the pits while eating?” you may ask), but there are a few reasons I don’t recommend pitting the cherries before baking the cherry clafoutis. Firstly – and lazily – it’s just a pain to be pitting cherries. Prep time goes from 5 minutes to 30 minutes real fast if you want to be pitting each cherry.

Secondly, cherry pits actually contain an enzyme benzaldehyde that adds an almond flavor to the clafoutis when they’re baked into it. Traditionally, cherry clafoutis from Limousin always use unpitted cherries for this reason. A third reason is that the cherry juices bleed less and aesthetically, the whole cherry looks nicer for presentation.

If you really don’t want to pick around the pits while eating (I promise it’s not that annoying to do, plus it gives the dessert an authentic feel), you can certainly pit your cherries and still have a delicious clafoutis.

You may also be wondering if you can use frozen cherries and the answer is yes! Allow the frozen cherries to thaw and drain the juices and proceed as you would with the fresh cherries.

Pair Cherry Clafoutis With Cognac

I live and die by the what grows together, goes together rule. As such, one doesn’t need to look too far from the Limousin region to find the perfect dessert wine pairing. I am, unsurprisingly, talking about Cognac. Yes, living in the countryside town of Cognac has made me partial to this robust spirit. Nonetheless, the combination of the cherry clafoutis and a glass of cognac is a West/Southwest of France match made in heaven.

Cognac has fruity, nutty, and caramel flavors that complement beautiful the rich cherries and caramelized, flan-like dessert.

When choosing a cognac to sip on alongside your cherry clafoutis, opt for VSOP quality or higher (the standard levels of quality, in increasing order, are: VS, VSOP, XO, XXO).

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Classic French Cherry Clafoutis

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  • Author: Sydney Isaacs
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 60 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: French
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This traditional French dessert is a great way to make the most of cherry season. Satiny smooth in texture, this flan-like dessert is best served warm but also works chilled for a sweet breakfast the next day. The recipe is super simple and uses only a few ingredients you likely already have on hand! Typically, the cherries are unpitted for an authentic feel but you can certainly remove the pits if you wish.


Ingredients

Scale
  • Approximately 3 cups fresh cherries, de-stemmed and unpitted
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/5 cups (80 g) granulated sugar 
  • 2/3 cups (80 g) flour
  • 1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons (40 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon (5.5 g) fine sea salt 
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of Cognac or other brandy
  • Optional: powdered sugar for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F or 180 C
  2. Prepare your baking dish by greasing with the butter.
  3. Melt the remaining butter on low heat on the stove in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Set aside.
  4. Mix in a bowl the eggs and sugar. While continuously mixing, add in the flour and salt to maintain consistency. Keep mixing to ensure there are no clumps and your batter is smooth.
  5. Add in the whole milk, vanilla extract, and melted better, continuing to stir to maintain an event texture. 
  6. Optional step: Add in the 1 tablespoon of cognac or brandy. 
  7. Place the cherries in your baking dish, evenly dispersed.
  8. Pour the batter carefully over the cherries.
  9. Optional step: Sprinkle a light dusting of sugar over the top for extra caramelization on top.
  10. Bake for 40 minutes. Test with a toothpick or fork, and bake for up to another 20 minutes if needed (1 hour in total). Baking time will depend on the thickness of the baking dish and your specific oven qualities. Visual cues to notice when the clafoutis is ready are a puffy, lightly browned top and edges.
  11. Remove the clafoutis from the oven. Add a dusting of powdered sugar over top and serve warm alongside a glass of cognac, neat.

Notes

  • It’s traditional and authentic to serve a cherry clafoutis with unpitted cherries. However, for an easier eating experience, you can definitely remove the pits. I recommend using a cherry pitter rather than a knife. You want the cherries to be as “whole” and intact as possible.
  • You can use frozen cherries in place of fresh cherries. Simply allow the cherries to thaw and drain the juices and proceed normally. 
  • The clafoutis will rise quite a bit in the oven but will fall quickly after cooling. This is normal!
  • The texture should be similar to a flan; if you have some slight rubber-y textures happening, you may have over-baked the clafoutis (but hey, it happens!) but the flavor will still be great.
  • Other optional accoutrements for serving: vanilla ice cream, whipped cream
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Sydney Isaacs
Sydney Isaacs

Sydney is a 29-year old American living between France and Italy. She has a WSET Level 2 certification in wine, along with a degree in environmental engineering and an MBA. She loves exploring local farmer’s markets, haunting her favorite wine bar, and discovering new restaurants.

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