Monday, January 11, 2010

Mirabelles in winter

In the dead of winter, when it's colder here than it's ever been ("ever" since we arrived in September, 2008), it's nice to think of warmer, sunnier times.

And since the last post (months ago ... this is what happens when you get a full-time job) was about mirabelles, here's a one about mirabelles in winter: clafoutis aux mirabelles ... surgelées ("frozen").

Clafoutis comes from Limousin (also famous for its cows, and Limoges porcelaine) and is traditionally made with unpitted cherries. In fact, if you make it with another fruit it's not technically a clafoutis but une flognarde.

The recipe I used was for a traditional clafoutis with fresh (not frozen) sweet cherries and it strongly advised against pitting those cherries because, it seems, it's the pits that give the clafoutis its distinctive aroma. I've actually never had a clafoutis that didn't have pitted cherries in it, so I can't say whether or not the claim is true. And I couldn't find any frozen unpitted cherries, so I figured I'd wait until cherry season to try it the traditional way.

Recipe (adapted from Cuisine et Vins de France)
1lb. frozen pitted mirabelles, thawed
scant 1/2 c. sugar + more to dust baking dish
4 eggs
scant 2/3 c. flour
scant 1/2 c. cream
1 1/2 c. milk
1 Tbsp. amandine liqueur (amaretto?)
powdered sugar for dusting (if you have it)

Preheat the oven to 400 (wait, "what oven do you guys have?" you ask ... well, that's for another post). Whisk the eggs with the sugar until frothy. Add the flour, little-by-little, whisking constantly. Then add the cream and milk in a stream, still whisking constantly. Finally, add the liqueur.

Generously butter a ceramic baking dish (this is what the recipe says ... nothing about size ... mine is about 11 in. across and 1 1/2 in. high, and there was actually too much batter, but then I had extra large eggs) and dust the bottom and sides with sugar.

Arrange the mirabelle halves in the bottom of the dish and gently pour the batter over them so as not to displace the fruit. Bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until the clafoutis is golden. Dust with powdered sugar and serve hot or warm.