It’s now been six years since our magical European Food Tour concluded. Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic and travel bans of 2020, my soul aches to return to those enchanting, cobblestone meandering days. We’ll get there. For now, we can revisit favorite food memories, such as this delightful (and simple!) cherry dessert.
The cherry clafoutis shown above was enjoyed in a little café in Lichtenberg. It was truly delicious, and I’ve mimicked the taste and textures pretty closely, with two exceptions. First, I used pitted cherries. I understand that whole cherries are traditional, but really, spitting cherry pits onto a china plate takes something away from the whole dining experience, don’t you agree? Second, I added walnuts to the crust. Why? Because cherry pits – supposedly – add a nutty flavor to the dish. I subtracted the pits, added some walnuts, and Voila! – flavor without, well, pits.
Ingredients (Serves 8 – 10)
For the crust:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup ground walnuts
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cold butter
2 tablespoons cherry brandy
For the filling:
2 cups sweet cherries, pitted and set in a strainer to drain
8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened (or substitute cream cheese)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cherry brandy
Step 1) Combine whole wheat flour, walnuts, and sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or two forks, until mixture resembles little peas. Add egg and cherry brandy. Mix – use your hands! – until well combined.
Step 2) Press dough into a tart pan (a pie dish would work fine, too). Place a piece of aluminum foil over the dough and sprinkle with dried beans. This will keep air bubbles from forming and “puffing up” your dough.
Step 3) Bake dough (foil, beans, and all) in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven, remove beans and foil, and let cool for 10 minutes.
Step 4) While crust cools, use an electric mixer to combine softened Neufchâtel cheese, eggs, sugar, and brandy.
Step 5) Arrange thawed, drained cherries on crust. Cover with cheese filling.
Step 6) Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve warm or cold. Personally, I prefer this dish cold. Try to share with 7 – 9 other people, but if you eat the whole darn thing by yourself, I won’t judge. 😉