What's a gal to do when left alone with a bunch of shockingly red spring rhubarb, a few spare eggs, and a meager cup of milk in the fridge? Why, make clafouti!
Clafouti is that brilliant French dessert made by pouring an eggy batter over fresh fruit. This bakes into a soft, vanilla-scented custard that is firm enough to serve in slices but soft enough to eat with a spoon.
Rhubarb makes a great alternative to the cherries that are traditionally used to make clafouti. Roasted in the oven with just a few spoonfuls of sugar, the rhurbarb becomes soft and slightly caramelized while retaining its signature tart flavor. The pieces retain their shape during roasting and baking for a pretty presentation, but then melt like jam as soon as you take a bite.
One of the best things about clafouti is eating the leftovers for breakfast the next day. The custard firms up as it chills, becoming ever-so-slightly chewy. Promise us you'll save one little slice for yourself and hide it in the back of the fridge for later.
For the Rhubarb:
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces, about 3 long stalks) diced rhubarb
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
For the Clafouti
1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (8 ounces) whole milk
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon lemon zest
pinch of salt
Heat the oven to 350°F.
Combine the rhubarb with the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside for 5-10 minutes to dissolve the sugars and begin extracting the rhubarb juices.
Spread the rhubarb in the bottom of an 8x8" baking dish or 9" pie pan. Roast uncovered for 15-20 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft and the juices are bubbling. Allow to cool until the rhubarb is just warm to the touch.
Whisk together the eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Whisk in the milk. Whisk in the flour, lemon zest, and salt. (To avoid clumps, sift the flour into the bowl through a strainer.) This batter can be prepared up to 30 minutes ahead of time.
Pour the batter over the roasted rhubarb and bake for 35-40 minutes (still at 350°F). When it's done, the clafouti should be puffed around the edges and a toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean. It's ok if the middle still jiggles slightly, and the edges will collapse once the clafouti starts to cool.
The longer it cools, the most set the clafouti becomes. For a loose pudding-like dessert, serve while still warm from the oven. For a firmer custard, allow to cool to room temperature or serve chilled. If you're feeling fancy, sift a little confectioner's sugar over the top just before serving.
Leftovers will keep refrigerated for up to a week.
Related: Weekend Cooking: Make Crêpes!
(Images: Emma Christensen)