It’s food based confessional again, this time I’ll confess that I didn’t eat strawberries for thirty years. Damn, that sounds like a long time. I have a slight recollection of eating berries as a young child, but spent my teens, twenties and some of my thirties professing that I simply didn’t like berries, currants or any fruit in that genre such as grapes. Cherries also fall under that large sweeping generalisation, as they’re far too berry-like to be in any other fruit group to my mind. Then, a few years ago I was shaking off some old (bad) habits and was encouraged to test the boundaries of my wild new leaf turning exercise by eating a strawberry.
Part of me wondered if it was a textural thing. Berrys are quite mushy, whereas the fruits I liked (apples, pears, oranges… errr, pineapple) had a perceived texture or zing to them. I knew that I was OK with the flavour as I never found berry flavoured foods repulsive, but would avoid them as they fell under the ‘berry’ banner. Then the day arrived when I was challenged to eat a strawberry, so I did, and it was quite nice. Since then, it’s been a roller coaster of trying different fruits, I’ve eaten a lot more berries, tried a kiwi fruit and eaten my first banana since about the age of 11, it really has been a quite ride (that’s sarcasm, just in case it doesn’t come across too well in text).
So I move on to cherries. I love cherry juice, especially the sour ones you get from mediterranean food stores. Cherry coke was always a childhood favourite and an ice cold can of it was the foundation to some of the best burps I ever did in my younger years. But I’ve still not eaten a cherry. Sitting here writing this, having made these clafoutis and eaten them yesterday, I know that there are 9 cherries sitting in the fruit bowl next door, waiting to be taken ownership of, but I can’t bring myself to stick one in my gob.
However, if you put them in the oven for 15 minutes then they’ll be down my throat before you can say “I thought you didn’t like…”. So that’s what I’ve been doing, making these little individual clafoutis filled with cherries and consuming them before I’ve had a chance to consider the fruit inside. It says a lot about the nature of aversions to foods though, how idiosyncratic we are and how we can adjust our food dislikes in a seemingly irrational way. It also suggest that with some simple commitment to retrying all those things that we say we don’t like, perhaps we can change our opinion of them.
So, in dedication to that, after I finish this blog post, I promise that I’m going to walk into the kitchen and eat a raw, uncooked cherry. Seriously.
Anyway, today’s recipe! Cherry clafoutis is a classic french dessert and an utterly gorgeous yet simple one to boot. These mini cherry clafoutis are little rounds of pure joy which have more cherry than clafoutis, dairy free, no refined sugar or syrup and make amazingly delicate little desserts. If you’re cutting down on sugar or just want a dessert that’s a little bit healthier then these are right up your ‘rue’. If you’re not trying to recalibrate your sugar-ometer, then a drizzle of maple syrup at the end will give you your sweetness kick for the day.
Fruit loaded mini cherry clafoutis
By Gavin Wren
Makes 8 mini clafoutis
Uses a muffin tin
Approximately 350g cherries (I used 4 per clafoutis), pitted and quartered
75g white (refined) spelt flour
75g ground almonds
2 large eggs, gently beaten
40g melted butter, plus extra for greasing
1 lemon, zest only
175ml coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional extra for those not cutting down on sugar:
Maple syrup to drizzle.
Grease the muffin tin well with the extra butter.
Sift the flour and almonds into a mixing bowl, then add the lemon zest. Add the eggs and whisk until combined into a thick paste (you will need to use a spatula or knife to remove the batter from the whisk).
Add a small amount of coconut milk (about 30ml) to your bowl and whisk it until well combined and smooth (again, scrape the lumps out your whisk). Add another portion of coconut milk and whisk until smooth. Continue this process, adding more milk each time until all the coconut milk is combined and you have a smooth batter. Now mix in the butter and vanilla extract.
Roughly fill each muffin tin hole nearly to the top with cherries, but don’t squish or push them in, just loosely fill it. Now pour the batter in until it comes level with the top of the cherries.
Place in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the top has taken on a light colour.
Remove from the oven, run a knife around the edge of each muffin hole and then remove the clafoutis by either inverting the pan onto a plate, or gently easing them out with a plastic spatula.