Cherry Clafouti and Pickled Cherries
The sour cherry trees in our yard produced more cherries this year than they had in 17 years.
Sour cherries. Photo by Felicia Orth
And although we are typically in fierce competition with birds to get them as they ripen, this year the birds seemed sated by other food sources and took only a modest share. I have also seen lots of cherries at the Farmer’s Market this year. This meant that I could make more than a few cherry crisps for the family, and considered other recipes.
A clafouti is a baked French dessert with fruit and a custardy batter. Traditionally made with black cherries, it is simpler than a pie with a crust, and can be made with a wide variety of fruits. As with our favorite cakes, the ratio of fruit to batter is high, and the fruit remains prominent even after baking. A clafouti makes an elegant dessert or a mildly naughty breakfast. I adapted a Julia Child recipe to use sour cherries, reduce sugar and add almond extract. If you don’t have a cherry pitter, one end of a paper clip stuck into the stem end of a cherry makes quick work of the pits.
No pitting is required for the second recipe. When faced with an abundance of any fruit or vegetable, quick pickling is never far from my mind. Quick pickling doesn’t require hot water baths, wax seals or other great fuss; it is simply preparing a hot brine, pouring it over the fruit and waiting a few days. Quick pickles can be kept in the refrigerator for weeks or months, but they never last that long in our house. Pickled cherries make an excellent addition to a cheese plate, to roasted or grilled meats, and to a plated dessert
Sour Cherry Clafouti
Sour Cherry Clafouti. Photo by Felicia Orth
1 ¼ cups milk
½ cup flour
½ cup sugar, divided
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
Pinch of salt
3 cups cherries, pitted
Powdered sugar to sprinkle (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a whisk or a blender, combine milk, flour, ¼ cup sugar, eggs, vanilla and almond extracts and salt. Butter a round baking dish (8-cup), and pour a thin layer of the batter on the bottom. Place the dish in the oven for 10 minutes and remove. (The batter will set but will not be cooked through.) Scatter the cherries over the set batter, sprinkle with the remaining sugar, and pour the remaining batter over the cherries and sugar. Place the dish back in the oven and bake for approximately 60 minutes, until puffed and brown in spots. If desired, sprinkle with powdered sugar to serve. Serves 6-8.
Balsamic Pickled Sour Cherries
Cherries waiting in a jar for hot brine. Photo by Felicia Orth
1 pound sour cherries
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup water
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons peppercorns
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper flakes
Wash the cherries, trim the stems to about ¾ inch long, and pierce each cherry with a toothpick. Place the cherries in a jar. Bring all of the other ingredients to a simmer in a saucepan; simmer for 3 minutes. Pour the hot brine over the cherries, tighten a lid on the jar and when the jar has cooled place the jar in the refrigerator. Let sit for at least 3-4 days before enjoying.
Note: When the cherries are eaten, the brine can be re-purposed as part of a homemade vinaigrette for a green salad—just strain and whisk in olive oil or canola oil to taste.