One of the great, great, great (three times, that’s how great it is) pleasures of summer is figuring out what to do with all that fruit that floods the markets. Stone fruits like plums, peaches, nectarines, cherries; melons of all stripes; and berries. Oh, the berries.
We eat them by the fistful when we’re lucky. Did you ever read Robert McCloskey’s “Blueberries for Sal”? It was one of my favorite children’s books, especially the part where Sal and a baby bear meet while overindulging in a thicket of blueberries. When I read that book as a kid, and then later to my own kids, I knew where Sal and that bear were coming from.
But besides funneling them straight into our mouths, there are other excellent ways to use berries. One of my favorites is a clafoutis.
A clafoutis (or clafouti) is a baked dessert of French origin, classically made with cherries — even more classically made with cherries with the pits left in them — all ensconced in a lightly sweetened, pancake-like batter that is poured over the fruit. It puffs up enticingly all around the fruit when it bakes. And it’s great with all kinds of fruit, especially berries.
AND it’s easy. This particular version cools into a custardy cake, and if you can serve and eat it slightly warm, you will be in for heightened deliciousness.
A few cracks may appear as it cools — that’s just the way it goes.
Summer Berry Clafoutis With Whipped Cream
Start to finish: 1 hour 15 minutes
1 pint blueberries
1 pound strawberries, halved, or quartered if large
1 tablespoon Chambord, framboise or other berry liqueur
4 large eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Sweetened Whipped Cream:
1 ½ cups heavy or whipping cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a shallow 2 1/2-to-3-quart casserole.
Place the berries in the casserole. Sprinkle the Chambord over it, toss the berries with the liqueur, and spread them out in a single layer.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs well, and then add the sugar, salt and vanilla, and whisk well to combine. Dump in the flour and whisk until the batter becomes very smooth. Slowly pour in the half-and-half and whisk until incorporated. Pour the batter over the berries.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, and the whole thing is prettily puffed and nicely browned. Cool the pan on a wire rack until the clafoutis is slightly warm, or at room temperature, knowing that it may crack in a spot or two, which is fine.
While the clafoutis is baking, make the whipped cream. In a large mixing bowl, using a whisk or a hand mixer, whip the cream with the 2 tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar just until slightly firm peaks are formed.
Dust the clafoutis with additional confectioners’ sugar before serving, and serve with whipped cream.
Nutrition information per serving: 233 calories; 25 calories from fat; 3 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 108 mg cholesterol; 154 mg sodium; 46 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 24 g sugar; 6 g protein.
Sweetened Whipped Cream:
Nutrition information per serving: 163 calories; 150 calories from fat; 17 g fat (10 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 62 mg cholesterol; 17 mg sodium; 3 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 1 g protein.