RECIPE: DARK CHERRY CLAFOUTIS (Fluffy french dessert)

Clafoutis (pronounced kla fou TEE) is a rustic dessert, traditionally made with black cherries, eggs, milk, sugar, and flour. Clafoutis is French, but don't be intimidated. It's simple and rustic, but can be very elegant. I've made it for a dinner party and also when camping! The batter puffs up around the fruit and the edges get browned and a little crusty; it's delicious. It rises and puffs up as it bakes; much like a Dutch Baby, if you are familiar with that. The taste is a bit like a custard but it isn't as creamy. Clafoutis, served warm with a dusting of powdered sugar or a drizzle of heavy cream is one of my very favorite desserts... and once you taste it, you'll add it into your regular dessert rotation. Serve it in the skillet for an impressive presentation. If you don't have a cast iron skillet, you can also bake this dessert in a buttered baking dish but youneed to watch it carefully if you do because the timing may be different.

You can also make Clafoutis with different fruit. I like it with pears or apples, too.

Dark Cherry Clafoutis recipe



1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon vanilla

6 eggs

6 tablespoons sugar

1 ¼ cup milk

Pinch salt

¾ cups of all-purpose flour

3 cups pitted cherries (don't get the canned cherries in heavy syrup. Use the 24.7 ozbottle of Dark Morello Cherries in light syrup, if you can find them. Drain them well. Or you can use fresh*)

Confectioners sugar (powdered sugar) for dusting


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a large cast iron skillet or baking dish.

Combine vanilla, eggs, sugar, milk, and salt in a food processor or blender. Blend for a few seconds until combined and then add the flour and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. (if you don't have a blender, you can just whisk until well combined, the sugar is dissolved, and batter is smooth. Whip it really well.)

Pour the batter into the prepared skillet. Cover the top evenly with the well-drained cherries. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the top is golden brown. Don't be tempted to open the oven during baking or the Clafoutis may fall. Serve warm. Dust the top with powdered sugar or serve with a drizzle of heavy cream.

NOTE: When using fresh fruit, put the butter in the skillet and let it melt. Once it has, add about a pound of  fresh, pitted Bing cherries to the butter and let them cook to soften for about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and stir until the juice thickens into a syrup. Pour the batter over the fruit and bake as directed above.

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Chef James Lewis of Bettola Restaurant in Birmingham contributed this recipe to my book, Birmingham's Best Bites. I've come to love his homemade ricotta and this crostini is a wonderful party bite any time of the year. The ricotta can be kept in the fridge and used for other recipes.... like Jalapeno Poppers, Gnudi (Gnocchi like dumplings), cheesecake, as a filling for manicotti, or in my luscious Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake!



House-Made Ricotta:

1 gallon whole milk

½ teaspoon citric acid

½ teaspoon sea salt


½ cup olive oil

1-2 cloves garlic

8-10 slices slightly stale Italian or French bread, thinly sliced


16-20 small cherry tomatoes

1 teaspoon olive oil

Pinch Sea salt, or to taste

Fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces

Black pepper (optional)

Aged balsamic vinegar (optional)


To prepare House-Made Ricotta, heat whole milk to 360°F, then remove pan and let cool. Add ½ teaspoon citric acid and ½ teaspoon sea salt and stir. Chill and strain with linen or double lined cheesecloth; drain to catch whey.

To make Crostini, heat, ½ cup of oil on low in a cast iron skillet or pan. Add one smashed garlic clove and heat on low 4-5 minutes. Remove oil and garlic from skillet.

Return a small amount of oil and heat skillet to medium.

Add several slices of bread into pan and toast until lightly browned on each side. Remove slices when they have reached desired level of crispness. Add a small amount of garlic oil back into skillet and continue toasting until lightly browned.

To prepare tomatoes, lightly rub ion olive oil and sea salt. Char them in hot cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat before toasting the bread for crostini or roast them under a broiler to blister the tomato while toasting the bread. Once tomatoes are charred or blistered, smash the tomatoes to break them up a bit. If they are sweeter, leave them whole.

To assemble, spread ricotta on bread. Top with charred tomatoes. Garnish with fresh basil, season with sea salt, olive oil and a pinch of black pepper and balsamic vinegar, if desired.

Tip: When making the House-Made Ricotta, it helps to put cheesecloth over a colander and let it slowly drain. After you have strained the ricotta, remove it from the linen. At this point you can mix in your choice of seasoning; such as fresh herbs, citrus zest, honey, bacon; adjust the seasoning to fit the dish you are serving the ricotta with.

For smoother cheese, pulse in food processor until you’ve reached your desired consistency.

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Perfect for St. Patrick's Day parties, this beer cheese fondue is made with Irish cheddar and Guinness, the stout Irish beer. Your friends will love this recipe. And once you have it made, you can leave it on low in a slow cooker or fondue pot and forget it. Best of all, it is self-serve; you just need to make sure you have enough because your guests will scarf this down. And don't worry if St. Patrick's Day is long past, this is a wonderful starter for any party, an appetizer for a dinner party, or a nice dinner for two in front of the fire.


Makes about 2 1/2 cups, enough for an appetizer portion for 8 guests

Serve with a brown hearty bread or French baguette cut into cubes


2 lbs cheddar cheese (Irish cheddar, like Kerrygold, is great. Find it at most Whole Foods stores.)

1 1/2 cups Irish beer, like Guinness stout

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon dry mustard(like Coleman's)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Dash cayenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste


In a 2 quart fondue pan or heavy pot over medium heat, warm 1 cup of the beer until bubbles slowly rise to the surface, about 5 minutes. While you are waiting, mix the cheese, cornstarch, and mustard together in a bowl. Add the cheese mixture to the hot beer,  one handful at a time, stirring until all the cheese is melted before adding the next. Stir until the fondue is smooth and bubbly, adding the other 1/2 cup of beer a little at a time to thin the mixture slightly, stirring constantly. Add the salt, pepper, cayenne, and Worcestershire. Stir well and transfer to a fondue pot or lower heat and let the mixture slowly bubble. Dip chunks of hearty bread, veggies, or fruit into the mixture. Warn guests that the mixture will be hot and do check the temperature from time to time. 

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