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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Chocolate Cherry Clafouti

Traditional French clafouti is a baked fruit dessert with a texture that falls somewhere between a custard and a pancake. I love to make it when fresh local fruits are in season.

In France, clafouti is traditionally made with cherries. I often break tradition to take advantage of other seasonal fruits like peaches or blueberries in the summer and pears or bananas in the winter.

This time I kept the cherries and changed the batter. I always make a vanilla batter but this time I thought: Why not chocolate?

I could even argue that this version is healthier than the regular version because compounds in cocoa powder (polyphenols, flavonols, proanthocyanidins, and catechins) have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke and cancer. Be sure to avoid Dutch-process or alkalinized cocoa powder because alkalizing agents destroy healthy antioxidants.

Cherries are also a good choice because they contain powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. They are being studied for their ability to improve memory and sleep, prevent cancer, treat gout, and protect muscles against exercise-induced damage.

Remove the pits from the cherries if you'll be serving this dish on a formal occasion or to anyone who may choke on them (like children).
I wasn't, so I left the pits in because it was a lot less bother. It's easy to spit out the pits while you eat it, but be sure to let people know before they take a bite.

This dessert is usually served at room temperature, but on hot summer nights it's nice to eat it cold from the fridge. Just make it ahead and chill it for several hours or overnight.

Organic butter to coat baking dish
1 pound cherries, stems and pits removed
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (non-alkalinized)
Pinch sea salt
1 cup organic whole milk yogurt
1 cup organic whole milk
1/4 cup honey
3 eggs

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Coat the inside of a 10-inch baking dish with butter. Arrange the cherries inside in a single layer.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and sea salt. Push the mixture toward the sides of the bowl, leaving a well in the center.

In a separate bowl, mix together the yogurt, milk, honey, and eggs until very smooth. Stir it into the flour mixture until all ingredients are just combined. Do not over-mix batter.

If you have time, allow the batter to rest for up to an hour, then gently whisk it once more. Pour the batter over the cherries.

Use a spoon to gently nudge the cherries, loosening them from the bottom which will allow them to rise during baking.

Bake the clafouti uncovered until a knife comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Do not over-bake it.

Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool to room temperature.

Serve the clafouti alone, with a fresh fruit garnish, or with a dollop of unsweetened, freshly whipped cream.

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