Search Results for: Cherry

Cherry Almond Clafoutis


Ahhh cherry clafoutis…..  Sigh.  Why have I not made you before?  This post is somewhat embarrassing to write.  I’ve been wanting to make a cherry clafoutis for years. Literally.  I’d seen them time and time again on foodie sites like Food Gawker and Taste Spotting, and always thought they looked so good.  I don’t know what on earth took me so long to make one, but it probably had a lot to do with the fact that I’d have to pit a gazillion cherries.  Plus, I was under the impression they were extremely time consuming and difficult to make.  My bad.  They’re super easy.  In fact, it’s probably one of the easiest things I’ve made in ages.  I think I’ll make this my default dessert for when company comes around.   

Like I mentioned before, part of what was really holding me back from making a cherry clafoutis was pitting all those cherries.  I’d been buying cherries all summer for Jayden and I to eat.  I was pitting them in a couple of different ways – by scoring an “x” on the top and bottom with a knife, and then pushing out the pit with a straw or chopstick, or by simply cutting them in half and picking the pits out with my fingers which was horribly messy and forced me to get my hands dirty.  I hate getting my hands dirty.   

Just when I thought I was going to have to resort to trying out another DIY cherry pitter method (there’s a bunch of suggestions here on my Pinterest board), I was contacted by the folks over at OXO Good Grips to see if I’d like to try out their new version.  So thank goodness for my new OXO Cherry pitter which made the whole pitting process quick and easy.


The cherry pitter made doing the job so much easier!  And I was really impressed with how well it was designed – there’s a little switch at the back that locks the pitter into a closed position so that the spikey bit doesn’t get caught on everything in my gadget drawer.  It’s also got a splash guard on it, which I think should be essential on every cherry pitter no matter what brand it is.  The splash guard was amazing and confined all the splatter and mess  which meant that my Julia Child recipe book I had sitting near by was spared from any straying cherry juice.  And rather than taking 20 minutes to pit all the cherries, it only took about 2 minutes. 

Splat!

Even though I’d been wanting to make a cherry clafoutis for ages, I’d never really settled on a recipe.  Sure all the clafoutis photos on Food Gawker and Taste Spotting looked delicious and I’d probably “favourited” about 50 different pictures, but I couldn’t decide on which recipe I should try.  So, I went back to basics and decided to go with Julia.  You really can’t go wrong with a Julia Child recipe can you?  


I had done a tiny bit of research on cherry clafoutis before I made mine, and the one thing that stood out was that the really authentic French recipes told you NOT to pit your cherries.  Why?  Because supposedly once baked, the cherry pits release a subtle almond flavour that gives the clafoutis a really nice flavour.  I opted to pit my cherries, and then add a bit of almond extract to compensate.  The result was absolutely delicious.  The almond flavouring really complemented the sweet juicy cherries and syrupy clafoutis.  I was amazed.  Why on earth had I not made this before?  It’s seriously easy to make.  Pit your cherries, throw the rest of the ingredients a blender for a couple minutes, pour and bake.  That’s pretty much it.


Cherry Almond Clafoutis
(Slightly adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering The Art of French Cooking)

Ingredients:

1 1/4 Cups (295ml) milk 
2/3 Cup (150g) Sugar, divided 
3 eggs 
1Tbsp Vanilla Extract 
1/4 tsp Almond Extract
1/8 tsp salt 
2/3 Cup (83) Flour 
Butter for greasing 
3 Cups Pitted Cherries
Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Instructions:

1.  Preheat your oven to 350ºF (175ºC), and lightly butter a 7- to 8-cup baking dish or pie plate. Wash and pit your cherries.  Set aside.

2. Place milk, 1/3 cup (75g) sugar, eggs, vanilla, almond extract, salt, and flour in a blender and blend at high speed for 1 minute.  Pour a 1/4-inch layer of batter into the greased baking dish. Place the dish in the hot oven for about 7-10 minutes until a film of batter has set in the bottom of the dish. Remove from heat.  

3.  Place the cherries evenly over the batter and sprinkle the remaining sugar over top. Slowly pour the rest of the batter over the cherries and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon if needed.  Place the dish in the middle of the oven and bake for about 45 – 60 minutes until done. The clafouti is done when it has puffed with a golden brown top, and when a toothpick or knife is inserted into its center and comes out clean.

Let the clafoutis cool slightly (about 5-10 minutes) before sprinkling top with powdered sugar just before serving.  


The clafoutis is best served warm, but I’ll admit to eating a left over slice straight out of the fridge and it being equally delicious as it was warm.

I realise that cherry season is nearing an end, but if you can get your hands on some I would definitely suggest making this dessert.  I plan on making it once more before all the cherries have completely disappeared from my local supermarket.  But if you’re too late you can also substitute the cherries for pretty much any other fruit such as pears, plums, apples etc and make a different version of clafoutis.

With thanks to OXO Good Grips for the cherry pitter, which will now double as an olive pitter during the winter months!

Waitrose Christmas Dessert Reviews

I’ve been lucky enough to be able to review several Christmas desserts from Waitrose this year, two of which were created by UK celebrity chef Heston Blementhal.  For those of you living outside the UK, or are who are just not unfamiliar with Heston, he’s basically a real life Willy Wonka.  His creations are like little science experiments – many of which I find a little too out there, but his creations for Waitrose are suited more to the general public. 

Image source

If you live in the UK, you may remember the infamous Christmas pudding he created last year exclusively for Waitrose.  It had an entire candied orange hidden inside, which infused the pudding with a delicious citrus flavour.  When you cut into the pudding you also got a cross section of candied orange as well.  Heston’s Candied Orange Christmas Pudding sold out within days, and immediately began springing up on eBay for hundreds of pounds.  The same has happened this year, although the average price seems to be between £15 – £30.

Image source

This year Heston has created several new Christmas desserts including a Chocolate Popping Candy Tart, a Chocolate and Cherry Blackforest Buche, and Puff Pastry Mince Pies With Pine Sugar Dusting.  

I was fortunate enough to try out Heston’s Popping Candy Tart and his Pine Scented Mince Pies, as well as a Christmas Pudding Cheesecake by Waitrose’s own label.  


First up I tried the Waitrose Christmas Pudding Cheesecake.  I had wanted to try it ever since hearing about it at the Waitrose Christmas product launch way back in the summer.  Although it wasn’t available to sample on the day, I thought the concept was great.  The cheesecake comes in a neat dome shape, just like a real Christmas pudding.  It had a delicious graham cracker / digestive base, and the actual cheesecake bit was so light and fluffy in texture.  It was loosely studded with candied orange peel, raisins and pieces of Christmas pudding, but the flavour was not too strong or overwhelming, although the chocolate topping did taste a bit boozey.  My husband and I both really liked the cheesecake, partially because the Christmas pudding flavour was quite mild, making it a perfect alternative if you or your guests aren’t that fond of the traditional Christmas pudding.  The Waitrose Christmas Pudding Cheesecake sells for £6.99 and serves approximately 6 people.


Next I tried the popping candy tart which is described as “a tart that will literally dance on your tongue. First you will be seduced by the luxurious velvety dark chocolate that has been infused with an exotic passion fruit puree, a direct contrast to the crunchy hazelnut base.  As your mouth begins to water the real surprise element begins as the popping candy begins to crackle and tingle on your tongue.”


The description above is fairly accurate.  The chocolate is so rich and velvety smooth, with just a hint of passion fruit, making you want to savour every last bit in your mouth.  And that’s when the popping candy hits you! There’s just enough snap, crackle and pop to know it’s there, but not so much that it’s like you dumped an entire packet of the stuff into your mouth (like we all did when we were kids!).  I would definitely recommend Heston’s popping candy tart as a special Christmas treat.  I also think it would make an even better dessert option for New Years Eve, although I’m not sure if it will still be available in stores then, but it’s worth checking.  Personally, I think the only drawback to the popping candy tart would be the price.  Maybe it’s just me, but £16.99 for a 10 serving tart seems a little steep for a prepared supermarket dessert.  I guess it just depends on how much you like your friends and family :-) 


Lastly I tried Heston’s pine scented mince pies, which he describes as “delicious eaten warm from the oven, and then sprinkled with pine sugar for a Christmas tree aroma.”  Unlike a conventional mince pie, Heston’s version is incased in puff pastry rather than a normal tart shell.  The mince pies come with a generous sized packet of pine scented icing sugar that really does smell exactly like pine, so much so, that I initially found it a little off putting because it smelled like a household cleaner.  After dipping my finger into it and giving it a taste, I decided that I actually quite liked the pine sugar.  It had a nice subtle pine flavour, with a minty aftertaste.  I was really excited to give these mince pies a try, but in all honesty I found them a bit disappointing.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve never been a huge puff pasty fan, but I found the pastry a bit bland – I think the pies would have been better in a traditional tart shell. There was too much puff pastry, and not enough filling inside, but I really did like the pine sugar. I think next year Heston could have a real winner if he kept the novelty of the pine sugar, but used a regular tart shell.  At £3.29 for 6, they’re definitely more expensive than the average mince pies, but they won’t break the bank either if you’re looking to try a little something different.



At first I sprinkled the pine sugar on quite sparingly, but don’t be afraid of it.  Next time I’d cover the tops in the sugar!

So what are YOU having for Christmas dessert?

Golden Pages & Designer Macarons

In the world of recipe books, there’s  some that just belong on the shelf.  C’mon – I’m sure we all have a few.  Then there’s some that belong in the kitchen.  You know, the ones that get used ALL the time.  And then there are the ones that belong centre stage on the coffee table for all eyes to see. They’re the kind of books that you could sit with for hours and just read every single recipe and imagine exactly what each of them tastes like.  The kind of book where you just lose yourself in page after page of gorgeous pictures, and fantasize that one day when you make that recipe it will turn out EXACTLY as it looked on the pages of the book. 
These books don’t come around very often, but when Laduree finally released their famous recipe book Sucre in English I’ll admit I got SUPER excited! Sucre got glowing reviews on the Amazon France site, and if French women thought it was good (because we all know French women are able to whip up a perfect pastry at a moments notice!) I knew it was going to be amazing.
I purchased my copy from Amazon and was pleasantly surprised when it arrived at my office nearly 5 days ahead of schedule.  When I opened up the package I was greeted with a familiar looking box – or so it seemed!  Laduree’s Sucre comes packaged in a replica of their famous macaron box, and it looked so similar that I actually had people stop by my desk thinking I had a rather large box of macarons!
Sucre The Recipes can be purchased in English via Amazon US here and Amazon UK here.  Unfortunately it’s not available in English yet on Amazon Canada.
Laduree has done a fabulous job transferring the opulence of their tea salons into this recipe book.  With it’s mouth watering pastry pictures, velvety pistachio green cover and gold gilded pages, this book is a little work of art.  There are oodles of recipes in it.  Everything from Vanilla Eclairs and Strawberry Napoleons to Raspberry and Rose Sundae’s and of course – their famous macarons!
Strawberry Marscapone Tart
I can’t wait to start making delicious pastries from this book, although I will warn you that some of the ingredients are rather hard to find.  Things like chestnut puree, almond & pistachio pastes or rose syrup.  But, there are definitely lots of recipes that can be made with ingredients are can be found at your local grocery store.
 
Harmonie
 
A sampling of some recipes that caught my eye:
Chestnut Barquettes
Rose Cream Puffs
Pistachio Salambos
Roasted Pineapple Tart
All Chocolate Tart
Upside Down Apple Tarts
Chocolate Mousse
Pistachio Sour Cherry Verrines
Lemon Cake
Cherry Calfoutis
The list goes on and on!!
There are even several recipes included for their infamous macarons, but my past history of macaron making has been a bit hit and miss.  Sometimes they turn out beautifully, and sometimes they don’t.  I have no idea why.  So for now, I’ll try my hand at making a few other Paris pastries from the book and stick to buying my macarons from Laduree.  Speaking of which – each year Laduree partners with one (sometimes more) famous fashion brands to design and release a limited edition macaron box.  This year Laduree has partnered up with famed fashion designer John Galliano, and I must say the box is absolutely gorgeous.  Last week I popped into the Harrods branch of Laduree and picked one up.  I couldn’t help but rush down there the day after they were released so I could get a hold of one.  In case you don’t know – I’m a bit obsessed with collecting Laduree Macaron boxes.  The limited edition John Galliano box is available in Laduree stores now.
My selection of macarons below:  Coconut, Salted Caramel, Dark Chocolate, Pistachio, Black Current & Violet (amazing btw) and Praline.
Golden Pages! 
Keep checking back to see what I make from this amazing book!