Bing Cherry Clafoutis

Oh my holy hell.

That is exactly what I said when I pulled this clafoutis out of the oven and the absolutely decadent, buttery smell rushed out of the oven straight into my face.

I had my first taste of clafoutis at a cooking class taught by Chef Peter Birk, who was with Ray's Boathouse at the time.  His recipe (adapted from Pierre Raboul's recipe) called for concord grapes, but he substituted bing cherries.  Cherries, I'm told, are the traditional fruit for clafoutis, and fortunately here in the Northwest we have some of the finest cherries available.

I will never make clafoutis with grapes after having it with cherries.  In addition to not having to peel grapes, cherry and almond go together so effortlessly.  This simple and straightforward cake is a perfect showcase for the combination.

Get yourself some of these lovely little local jewels before they're gone again, and make some clafoutis.  It's a great dessert to serve company (just make sure you've made enough), and can easily be made gluten free by opting for the hazelnut substitution over cookie crumbs.  

My grandmother's cherry pitter.  I really recommend getting one of these if you're going to pit cherries even once a year. Not only does it make removing the pits easy, but you can actually aim and fire the pit a pretty good distance with the thing, just slightly more refined than spitting them.  Leaving the pits in your cherries for clafoutis actually produces a more concentrated flavor as the cherries bake, and this is the traditional way to make it.  

Bing Cherry Clafoutis

Adapted by Chef Peter Birk from Pierre Raboul

8 T unsalted butter, softened
1 lb bing cherries, washed and pitted
1 c confectioner's sugar, plus 1 T
1 3/4 c almond flour or finely ground almonds
2 T cookie crumbs or chopped hazelnuts
pinch salt
2 eggs
1/4 c heavy cream

1.  Oven to 350.  Grease a 9" cake pan with the butter wrapper.

2.  In an electric stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter.  Add 1 cup confectioner's sugar and beat til incorporated.  Beat in almond flour, cookie crumbs or nuts, and salt.

3.  In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and cream.  Gradually add to butter mixture while mixing on medium speed.  Beat until just smooth.

4.  Transfer batter to prepared cake pan.  Spoon cherries and any accumulated juices over batter.  Sift remaining tablespoon of sugar over cake.

5.  Bake until golden and firm in center, 50 minutes.  Let cool before serving.

The cherries sink and almost disappear during baking.

Fresh out of the oven.

The three of us ate half of it immediately, and the other half was excellent for breakfast the next morning.  Someone who shall remain nameless might or might not have a bit for a midnight snack, too.

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