French

Cherry Clafoutis: a French Gateau

Cherry Clafoutis: Easy and Delicious Custardy Dessert A clafoutis is a "gateau" of cherries settled in a custardy tart, traditionally eaten in the Limousin region of France where cherries are a-plenty.  Like most French culinary creations, this dish was created as a way to use leftovers (leftover batter in this case).  This rustic, peasant dish typically involves pouring leftover batter in a dish, adding cherries, and baking it.

Because cherries aren't in season, I used cherries preserved in brandy. Like most French gateau, there isn't an American equivalent.  Gateau, which literally translates to "cake," is not at all similar to our American concept of "cake."  In fact, most homemade "gateau" are egg-y, custardy tart-like creations with little flour, and they aren't extremely sweet.  This recipe is typical because it uses ground almonds (or "almond flour"), like most French baked goods.  However, it is atypical because clafoutis normally do not use almonds.  But, the almonds give it a rustic, yet sophisticated flavor.

Cherry Clafoutis: Easy and Delicious Custardy Dessert

The silky texture reminds me of a Mexican flan, although it has bite to it, like bread pudding.  Although traditionally made with cherries, other fruits can be used, such as blueberries or pears.  Also, topping it with freshly-whipped cream is an absolute must.  This dish pairs excellently with a rose Champagne (or any Champagne!) I will definitely be trying this dish again when blueberries are in season.

Cherry Clafoutis Recipe, adapted from various sources

Ingredients: 1 c. granulated sugar 5 large eggs 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 3/4 c. all-purpose flour, sifted 3/4 c. plus 2 tablespoons almond flour, almond meal, or freshly ground almonds 1 teaspoon salt 1 c. whole milk 1 c. heavy cream 12 ounces cherries* Powdered sugar, for dusting Sweetened whipped cream, for serving

* The traditional dish uses unpitted cherries since the cherry pits add flavor.  However, using pitted cherries will certainly be easier on your guests.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 10-inch round gratin dish and dust it with granulated sugar. In a large bowl, whisk the 1 cup of granulated sugar with the eggs and vanilla. Whisk in the all-purpose flour, almond flour and salt until just incorporated. Add the milk and cream and whisk until light and very smooth, about 3 minutes. Pour the batter into the prepared gratin dish and arrange the cherries on top.
  1. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the clafoutis is set and golden. Let cool. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, cut into wedges and serve with whipped cream.
  2. This dish can be made ahead one day, stored in the refrigerator wrapped tightly in plastic.  Serve slightly warm.

Cherry Clafoutis: Easy and Delicious Custardy Dessert

Cherry Clafoutis: Easy and Delicious Custardy Dessert

There won't be much leftover!

Buche de Noel (Yule Log)

Buche de Noel (Yule Log)

I love pies, cakes, and cookies at Christmastime.  But, I also like trying new things, and I wanted to bring a little bit of France with me home to Lousiana for the holidays.  The buche de noel (Yule Log) is a traditional Christmas dessert in France, Belgium, French Canada, Lebanon, and Vietnam.  It is traditionally made from a sponge cake , and filled with chocolate buttecream rolled up to ressemble a log.

I wanted to make one a little more--interesting. I found a recipe that combined Nutella, whipped cream, and toasted almonds. I couldn't resist!

The toasted almonds really bring out the nuttiness of the Nutella, and compliment the Genoise cake splendidly.  The finished product is so festive and really adds a nice flair to any dining table set for Christmas dinner.  You can always enjoy a left over piece the next morning with coffee for holiday-only guilt-free breakfast ;)

This Yule Log recipe is particularly wintry since the whipped cream frosting symbolizes snow on the log.  Get creative and really create a winter wonderland! Enjoy!

Buche de Noel (Yule Log), courtesy Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

Nonstick cooking spray, for pan 4 large eggs, separated ¾ c. granulated sugar ¼ teaspoon pure almond extract ½ c. all purpose flour ¼ teaspoon salt Powdered Sugar, for dusting ½ c. sliced almonds, toasted Chocolate-hazlenut filling and whipped cream frosting (recipes above)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Coat a 10 x 15 inch jelly roll pan with nonstick cooking spray; line bottom of pan with parchment paper.  Coat parchment paper with cooking spray.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk egg yoks with ½ c. granulated sugar until pale yellow.  Whisk in almond extract and flour just until combined (do not overmix!).  Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks form.  While beating, slowly add remaining ¼ c. granulated sugar (1 tablespoon at a time) and beat until stiff and glossy.  Whisk 1/3 of beaten egg whites into yolk mixture.  Gently fold in remaining egg whites with a rubber spatula.  Spread batter evenly in prepared pan; bake until center of cake springs back when lightly pressed, 15-17 minutes.
  4.  Immediately after removing cake from oven, run a knife around edge of pan.  Dust top of cake with powdered sugar.  Invert cake onto clean parchment paper and gently peel off the lining paper that is now the top of the cake.  Starting from short side of cake, gently roll cake, along with clean paper, into a log.  Let cool, seam side down, 30 minutes.
  5. Once cake has cooled, prepare filling and frosting.  Gently unroll cake and spread with filling, leaving a ½ inch border.  Starting from a short side, carefully re-roll (do not roll paper in cake), and place, seam side down, on a baking sheet or serving platter.  Spread log with frosting; sprinkle with almonds.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

 

 

 

Chocolate-Hazlenut Filling and Whipped Cream Frosting

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin ¼ c. Nutella 2 ¼ c. heavy cream ¼ c. sugar

  1. Place 2 tablespoons cold water in a small saucepan; sprinkle with gelatin, and set aside to soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk Nutella with ¼ cup heavy cream.  Set aide.
  3. Heat gelatin mixture very gently over low heat, stirring just until dissolved.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat remaining 2 cups heavy cream with sugar until soft peaks form.  While still beating, pour dissolved gelatin mixture over cream all at once (gently reheat gelatin mixture if it has stiffened).
  5. Fold half of whipped cream into Nutella mixture to finish the Chocolate-Hazlenut filling.  The remaining whipped cream is the whipped cream frosting.