A clafoutis saved Thanksgiving Day at our house this year. While pies were being “oohed” and “aahed” over and providing the grand finale at houses across the country, our pie was a flop. Literally, said pie (a vegan pumpkin pie recipe found online) never set up as it should have and it was looking as if our feast of thankfulness, would end on a not-so-sweet note. Was I ever sorry that I broke one of the cardinal rules of dinner parties: don’t use an untried recipe! To add insult to injury, College Girl has been baking pies with her friends at UC and was so excited to please her dad with a new twist on his beloved pumpkin pie…
But have no fear, a favorite past issue of Bon Appetit and two very plump and perfect Korean pears from Melissa’s World Variety Produce came to the rescue!
First of all, what is a clafoutis? A clafoutis is a baked French dessert of black cherries arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a flan-like batter, dusted with powdered sugar and served warm. It originated in the Limousin region of France and traditionally contains the pits of the cherries and, according to Wikipedia, when other kinds of fruit are used instead of cherries, the dish is properly called a flaugnarde. Clafoutis sounds pleasantly musical compared to flaugnarde, so I’m sticking with it
Secondly, if you’ve never eaten or cooked with Asian pears, you absolutely must! They are crunchy, juicy, and sweet – a mouthwatering combination of apple and pear. There are 25 varieties of Asian pears – the three that I had were large softball-size, golden Korean Shingo, known for their delicately tangy, perfumed flavor, high water content and crisp, crunchy texture (think jicama). They’re delicious eaten raw, whole or in salads, and their firm, crunchy texture means they don’t turn mushy when cooked or baked like regular pears have a tendency to do. Asian pears are in season, so pick some up this weekend!
Asian Pear Clafoutis
An impressive but easy dessert that’s like a custard with fruit baked in it. In the summertime, make it with fresh peaches or plums instead of pears. Adapted from Bon Appetit, November 1997.
3/4 cup sweet white wine* (such as Riesling)
2 Asian pears, cored, cut lengthwise into thin slices
4 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup milk* (do not use low-fat or nonfat)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla
Yield: 6 servings
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
1. Combine wine and pears in a large bowl; let stand 10 minutes. Drain pears, reserving 1/4 cup wine.
Butter 9-inch diameter glass pie dish. Beat eggs, sugar and salt in medium bowl, to blend. Whisk in flour. Add milk, butter, vanilla and reserved 1/4 cup wine; whisk until smooth. Arrange pears in prepared baking dish. Pour batter over pears.
Bake clafoutis until center is set and top is golden, about 55 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. The original recipe called for topping the clafoutis with a generous sprinkling of sifted powder sugar – preferring less sweetness and the allure of fresh fruit, I skipped this step.
*I used 2010 Cotes de Tablas Blanc – always use wine worthy of drinking in your cooking and baking – this lovely wine is a blend of four estate-grown white Rhône varietals: Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Marsanne. We bought a case on our last visit to Tablas Creek, our favorite Paso Robles vineyard.
*Instead of milk, I substituted fresh whipped cream that had been intended for the pumpkin pie, the custard was deliciously reminiscent of flan.