It's Flathead cherry season in Montana, and the Food Guys are on a cherry clafouti kick. "If you have access to Flathead cherries, now is one of those moments in your year that will only last a few weeks," urges Food Guy, Jon Jackson. Clafouti, the simple French dessert, features a custard base topped with fresh cherries and it's perfect for late July and early August.
Classic cherry clafouti is made with unpitted cherries, because oddly, the pits seem to enhance its floral, spicy flavor. But if you and your guests would rather avoid cherry pits in your clafouti, pit the cherries and use a tiny bit of cinnamon instead to minic the compound linalool, which is the source of the pits' floral flavor.
The difficulty in combining fresh cherries with the clafouti custard is that cherry juice will bleed into your custard. Here's a solution: Bake the pitted cherries cut-side up in a skillet lined with aluminum foil in the oven at 425 degrees F for 10-15 minutes. Don't overdo it; when you remove them, the cherries shouldn't look shriveled or dehydrated.
Cherry Clafouti - serves 6-8
1½ pounds fresh sweet cherries, pitted and halved
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces)
⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 large eggs
⅔ cup (4 2/3 ounces) plus 2 teaspoons sugar or erythritol
2½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy cream
⅔ cup whole milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Let the baked cherries cool down before mixing them with 2 teaspoons of flour, lemon juice and cinnamon.
Prepare the custard by whisking the eggs, 2/3 of a cup of sugar or erythritol, vanilla, and salt together for a minute. Add the flour, and finally the cream and milk.
Butter the cooled skillet you used to bake the cherries and pour in the custard batter. Add the cherries on top. Bake in the oven 18-22 minutes at 425 degrees F, turning the skillet once halfway through, until the custard is set and its internal temperature is 195 degrees. Let it cool for 25 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining sugar or erythritol on top, and slice it into wedges.
"It's a delicious thing to have on hand. We kept pretending we weren't going to finish the whole thing, but the next thing you know, we did."