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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FALL FLAVORS: CARAMEL APPLE MARTINI RECIPE

Everyone loves a caramel apple but they aren't that easy to eat and there's always the risk of expensive dental repairs afterwards. For that reason, I came up with this cocktail a few years ago and it has certainly become a fall favorite. Serve it as a cocktail or as an adults only dessert at the end of the evening.

The perfect fall cocktail: my Caramel Apple Martini.

The perfect fall cocktail: my Caramel Apple Martini.

Put martini glasses into the freezer to chill them. Drizzle caramel sundae syrup into the chilled martini glasses and put them back into the freezer while you mix your drinks. Make a design like a flower, polka dots, a spider web for Halloween parties, etc. Be creative! I wanted mine to look like a caramel apple.

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice mix:

2 parts Butterscotch Schnapps

2 parts Sour Apple Pucker Schnapps

1 part vodka-- use plain vodka or adjust the recipe by using vanilla vodka for a sweeter drink or Vox Green Apple vodka for an extra apple kick. I prefer the vanilla vodka but it may be too sweet for some people.

Shake and pour into the chilled and decorated glasses. Yum.  Now go enjoy the weekend. This will certainly make it better.

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FALL FAVORITE RECIPES: PUMPKIN SPICE CHEESECAKE WITH SOUR CREAM TOPPING

My niece has a birthday in October and this became her requested birthday cake after she had it at California Pizza Kitchen. Here’s my version; it’s creamy and spicy from the ginger and the gingersnap crust. I think it’s better than the original. It may seem complicated to make but it is not hard- just takes some time but worth it, especially for a special girl!  

My Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake is spicy, creamy, and tastes better than those lattes we look forward to all year long!

My Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake is spicy, creamy, and tastes better than those lattes we look forward to all year long!

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour plus 10 minutes and 10 hours to chill

 INGREDIENTS

35 gingersnap cookies

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup granulated sugar

4 bricks cream cheese, 8 ounces each

1 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

4 large eggs, room temperature

½ teaspoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups sour cream

1/3 cup Confectioners' sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Tiny squeeze lemon juice

Pinch nutmeg

 DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9” springform pan by inserting the bottom and then wrapping the bottom with two layers of foil so water from the water bath will not seep in. Get a large baking pan with sides for the water bath.  

For the crust: Melt butter. Put the gingersnaps and sugar in food processor until they are coarse crumbs. Add the melted butter. Toss with a fork to combine together. Press into the bottom and slightly on the sides of a buttered springform pan. Bake the crust for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Don’t let it get too dark. Let cool on a rack. 

For the filling: In a large mixing bowl, cream the cheese and sugar together on medium speed,  just until creamy and light. Add the maple syrup. Reduce the speed to low. Add the flour, a little at a time. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure the first one is incorporated before adding the next one. Next, add the puree, lemon juice, spices, vanilla, and salt.   

For the topping: Mix together sour cream, sugar, nutmeg, and lemon juice. Set aside for later.

Spoon the filling into the springform pan on top of the crust. Check the foil around the edges of the springform pan to make sure no water leaks in. Place the filled springform pan in the baking pan and put the baking pan in the oven. Carefully pour warm water halfway up the sides of the springform pan. Bake at 350 for 60-70 minutes or until the edges are set but the middle is not quite set; it will set as it cools. Add the topping and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Carefully remove the springform pan from the water bath to a rack and let it cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen but don’t remove the sides. Cool another hour then transfer to the refrigerator and let chill for at least 10 hours. Longer is even better. Remove the sides of the pan and let stand for 20 minutes at room temperature before slicing.

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