As a devout chocolate lover since birth, I've never totally warmed to the idea of fruit desserts. Occasionally I'll enjoy an old-fashioned strawberry shortcake or classic tarte tatin, but in the summertime I rarely seem to make pies and baked goods using our beautiful Georgia produce. All that changed a few years ago, however, when a pastry chef friend served me my first hot, fluffy blueberry clafoutis. It was truly love at first powdered-sugar bite.
Clafoutis is a traditional French dessert that falls somewhere between a custard, a souffle, and a pancake. It is silky and light, creamy and dense all at the same time. But the real beauty of clafoutis (ha, see what I did there?!) is how easy it is to whip up. Since it just requires a few pantry ingredients, you can throw it in the blender and put it into the oven before dinner, and as soon as the plates are cleared, you've got a piping hot dessert.
I will admit that it took me a few tries to get this recipe exactly how I remembered it. In fact I made the mistake of serving my first test at a dinner party with rather unfortunate results. (It's usually not a good sign when the phrase 'blueberry boogers' comes up.) Thankfully, all that was needed was a simple adjustment to the ratio of flour and eggs, and my third and final attempt yielded a clafoutis worthy of any pastry chef's dreams.
While clafoutis was originally created to show off the famous cherries from France's Limousin region, it is quite accommodating to any ripe fruit you have on hand. I happen to prefer mine with a mix of sweet juicy berries. Of course it may seem like a lot of trouble to turn on your stove in the middle of summer when berries are best, but I promise the result is worth every second it spends in the oven. Just be sure to have a scoop of homemade Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream ready to cool the dessert, and you, down.
Individual Mixed Berry Clafoutis
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
Pinch fine sea salt
1 cup mixed berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, and/or blackberries
Powdered sugar, for serving
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Combine the milk, cream, sugar, flour, eggs, vanilla, and salt in a blender or food processor and process until the batter is smooth, about 20 seconds. Place four medium ramekins or jars, about 6 ounces each (or six smaller ones, about 4 ounces each) on a baking sheet. Spread an even layer of berries in the bottom of each ramekin and fill about 3/4 of the way full with batter.
Bake until puffed, golden brown and just set in the center, 45 to 60 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before serving. (The clafoutis will deflate considerably, like a souffle.) Garnish with powdered sugar and serve with vanilla ice cream.
(Images: Nealey Dozier)