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

DARK CHERRY CLAFOUTIS

INGREDIENTS

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

DIRECTIONS:

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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RECIPE: LUNCHROOM BROWNIES

These brownies remind me of the ones they would serve at my elementary school on Fridays… more like a cake than fudge but still moist. Using a good quality bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder makes them more decadent. If you want to make these more fudgy, reduce the flour to 3/4 cup and omit the baking powder.

Old school lunchroom brownies

LUNCHROOM BROWNIES

INGREDIENTS

1 cup (2 sticks) melted unsalted butter plus more to grease the pan

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2 cups granulated sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

¾ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Butter an 8-inch square pan and line with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper also.

Using a large glass heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, melt the butter and the chocolate together. Remove from the heat. (Be careful not to allow water to find its way into the chocolate because it will seize.)

Mix the sugar into the warm chocolate mixture. Stir so that the sugar dissolves into the chocolate. Add the vanilla.

Using a wire whisk, add the eggs, one at a time, taking care to incorporate well after each addition. Add the cocoa with the last egg.

Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder together. Using a spatula or large spoon, gently fold the flour into the batter, ½ cup at a time, making sure there are no streaks of flour or flour pockets remaining in the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes. Check for doneness with a toothpick. It should come out clean when inserted into the center of the pan. When done, remove the pan to a wire rack to cool. Once completely cool, lift the brownies from the pan using the parchment paper. Slice into squares.

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RECIPE: HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE BOURBON ICE CREAM

What’s not to like? Chocolate. Kentucky bourbon. That makes magic in my book. The only question that remains is: one scoop or two?

How to Make Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream

HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE BOURBON ICE CREAM

Prep Time: 20 minutes plus 4 hours chill time and spin time

Cook Time: 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS

2 cups whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup granulated sugar

Pinch fine salt

7 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

4 ounces quality semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup Kentucky bourbon (optional)

 DIRECTIONS:

Prepare an ice bath in a large heat-proof bowl. Have a large fine mesh sieve or strainer ready.

Add the milk and cream to a heavy saucepan. Heat over medium heat until little bubbles start to form around the edges but do not let it come to a boil. Remove from heat. Set aside.

In a medium bowl of your mixer using the whisk attachment, whisk the egg yolks with sugar and salt until they are thick and pale yellow. With the mixer on low, very slowly add a cup of the hot milk to the eggs to temper them, adding a little at a time. Whisk the egg mixture into the remaining milk in the saucepan. Cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly until the custard thickens enough to coat back of a wooden spoon. (You will know it is done if you use your finger to draw a line down the back of the spoon and it holds.) This will be around 160 degrees if you are using a thermometer. Do not let the mixture boil. (If it goes over 180 degrees F, it will likely curdle.)

Add the chopped chocolate to a large, fine mesh sieve. Strain hot custard through the sieve into large heat-proof bowl placed over the ice bath; the chocolate will melt as you strain it. Add the vanilla and bourbon. Stir the custard until cooled. Taste. Add additional salt or vanilla as desired. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled; up to 24 hours before freezing. Freeze according to manufacturer instructions. Serve as soft serve or remove from your machine to a freezer-safe container and freeze until hard, about 5 hours.