The Motley Monk's recipe for dried-cherry and apple clafoutis...
Too tired to make a dessert, but really want something sweet to end the meal?
Having guests over for dinner, but don't have the time to make an extravagant dessert?
The Motley Monk has the perfect dessert: a dried-cherry and apple clafoutis. It's a French variation on an apple pie, but there's no crust. It has all of the flavor and sweetness of a sumptuous dessert. And best of all, clafoutis doesn't take much time to make.
This recipe unfolds seamlessly and effortlessly, beginning with pre-heating the oven to 400º and soaking ½ cup of dried cherries in ½ cup of VSOP cognac (or brandy or apple schnapps).
While the oven is heating and the cherries are getting drunk, it's time to slice the apples. The Motley Monk uses Granny Smiths, although other varieties are equally acceptable.
For this particular clafoutis, The Motley Monk peeled the apples beginning first by peeling around the top and bottom and, then, peeling the sides. Sometimes, The Motley Monk likes to peel a complete skin, just to see if he can do so without breaking the skin so that it resembles a long, green ribbon. On other occasions, The Motley Monk peels the skin from top to bottom.
Slice the apples...thin enough to cook through, but not so thin that the apples will lose their texture while cooking and become mushy. Apple slices measuring about ⅛-¼ inches thick work best. Using a mandolin ensures uniformity. Just be careful to slice the apples and not the fingers!
Place the apples in a large bowl and mix with 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice (about ½ of a lemon). This keeps the apples from turning brown and adds a good flavor.
Strain the cherries into one container and reserve the liquid in the original container. Set both aside.
Next comes making the caramel.
Melt 3 tablespoons, vanilla seeds (or vanilla extract), brown sugar, and reserved VSOP cognac in a skillet over medium heat. When the brown sugar liquefies, add the apples and stir frequently until they soften, perhaps 7 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, brush a pie plate with 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Place pie plate on a cookie sheet and heat in over while making the batter. When the pie plate is ready to be filled, it will have a "browned butter" (or semi-caramel) look.
As the pie plate is heating, place the butter, eggs, half-and-half, flour, sugar, vanilla extract and salt in blender and mix well until smooth and frothy. Set to the side.
Remove the cookie sheet holding the pie plate from the oven. Pour one-half of the batter into the pie plate. It will start bubbling, foaming, and cooking immediately. Don't worry, but be sure not to burn your hands...the cookie sheet and pie plate will be very hot! Layer one half of the apples on top of batter followed by one-half the cherries, reserving the apple juices on the bottom of the skillet. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
Repeat the process again: Top with remaining batter, apple, and cherries; then, sprinkle generously with cinnamon and sugar.
Place the pie plate sitting on the cookie sheet back into the oven. Bake the clafoutis until it's golden and set in center, about 25-30 minutes.
While the clafoutis is baking, simmer the reserved juices in the skillet until they are reduced by one-third. Pour the apple-caramel sauce into a Pyrex (or heat proof) measuring cup and set to the side.
It's now time to clean up the kitchen!
When the clafoutis is done baking, remove it from the oven and let it cool on a rack.
To serve the clafoutis, slice it and place one slice on each plate. Heat the reserved apple-caramel sauce in the microwave and drizzle with the sauce on each piece of clafoutis. Then, top with whipped cream or, better yet, vanilla ice cream.
clafoutis for dessert the night before,
The Motley Monk had this leftover piece the next evening.
Unfortunatley, no apple-caramel sauce was left!
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