Clafouti (or clafoutis) is a baked, fruit-studded dessert that’s somewhere between a pancake and a flan. It’s originally from France and is traditionally made with dark cherries, eggs, milk and just a little flour. I’ve made clafouti with other fruits for decades, (which technically, I’ve learned, makes it a flaugnarde), but somehow never got around to making it with the classic cherries until now.
The batter comes together so easily– 5 minutes tops– that this used to be one of my recipes for getting something on the table quickly when roaming little kids demanded most of my attention. In the traditional cherry clafouti recipe the pits are left in to give the dish a slight almond flavor. That goes well with my mental conception of clafouti as a simple dish I can throw on the table, while sitting around pitting cherries does not.
So, with just a slight bit of trepidation I off-loaded the task of pitting the cherries to my diners, thinking that I would certainly make this dish a lot more often if they didn’t mind eating it that way. And they haven’t seemed to mind. It seems pretty natural to eat a bite of custard, then spear a cherry, eat it, and dispose of the pit. You’re not going to be wolfing down your slice of clafouti but, you know, nothing wrong with that.
I used almond meal and almond milk for a gluten and dairy-free version. Since this dish is supposed to have a little almond flavor those substitutions seemed perfect. Clafouti can be more on the dense, pancake-y side or more custardy. Made with the almond ingredients this one is a bit custardy, which is how I like it.
I’d like to make this with the traditional dark cherries, but given the 30# box of Rainiers we were working through (do you understand my reluctance to pit more cherries a little better now?) all my test versions were made with Rainiers. The Rainiers did look pretty with the yellow cherries in the yellow base. Rainer cherries have a milder flavor than dark cherries, so Amaretto was mandatory to give the clafouti punch (a smaller amount of almond extract was not a good substitute for the Amaretto).
You can find a varying amount of sugar in clafouti recipes, sometimes the same amount of sugar I’ve used here or slightly less, sometimes more than twice as much. Suit yourself, but this clafouti is sweet enough for my family who are used to my low-sugar desserts, and I provide powdered sugar for anyone who wants to dust a little over their slice (traditional and looks pretty, too). I used coconut palm sugar, which has a rich flavor, a high mineral content, and a low glycemic index. For unrefined powdered sugar, blend unrefined sugar in your blender.
- 1¼ cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup almond meal
- 1 Tbsp. Amaretto
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- ⅛ tsp. salt
- ⅓ cup coconut sugar or other unrefined sugar
- 3 cups Rainier cherries
- (optional powdered sugar to dust on top)
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Pick stems off cherries. If you wish, you can pit them. I left them whole as is traditional.
- Grease a 9 by 12 baking dish and sprinkle almond meal on the bottom.
- Combine all ingredients except cherries in a blender, blend briefly until smooth.
- Pour batter into baking dish, place cherries onto batter.
- Bake for 40 minutes, or until dish is browning on top and cooked through (toothpick comes out clean).
- Serve, optionally dust on top with powdered sugar.