The best summer desserts take advantage of the bounty of produce available during the season. I love watching the produce shift from the bright and perfumey berries to my favorite cherries, apricots and peaches to summer apples and pears. Then, just when you thought it was over, the rainbow of plums appear. Just like the season, the produce doesn’t last long; scoop it up and enjoy it while you can.
I am absolutely crazy about cherries. I love their beautiful color and delicate flavor. I'm especially wild about tart cherries. Their flavor is what I think of when I think of cherries; it's complex sweet and tart with that cherry perfume flavor. When cherries come into season, I buy entire flats of them and schlep them home. I spend hours pitting and eating the garnet beauties and then plan my attack.
I use cherries in savory and pastry preparations. Cherries are versatile and because their season is so short, I pit them as soon as I purchase them and freeze them. A quick and delicious dessert that shows off cherries is Clafoutis. If cherries are not available, you can easily substitute blueberries, sliced apples or whatever fruit is available.
Clafoutis (kla-fu-ty) is a French flan-like dessert. The fruit is cooked in sweet custard until it is puffed and golden. Clafoutis are served either warm or at room temperature and garnished with powdered sugar. I like to serve Clafoutis for brunch, lunch or a casual dinner dessert.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup sour cream
1 vanilla scraped or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons Amaretto or favorite liqueur (schnapps would work well for this!)
3 cups pitted cherries (I use a mix of sour/tart cherries and sweet cherries)
Garnishes: confectioner’s sugar, fresh lemon juice, toasted sliced almonds
Preheat the oven to 190 C.
Butter a 10 X 3 by 1 1⁄2-inch round baking dish and sprinkle the bottom and sides with 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar.
1. Beat the eggs and the 1⁄3 cup of granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
2. On low speed, mix in the flour, cream and sour cream, scraped vanilla, lemon zest and juice, salt, and amaretto. Set aside for 10 minutes.
3. Arrange the cherries in a single layer, slightly fanned out, in the baking dish. Pour the batter over the cherries and bake until the top is golden brown and the custard is firm, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with confectioners' sugar and drizzle with fresh lemon juice and toasted almonds.
Chef Laura Frankel is Executive Chef for Spertus Kosher Catering and author of Jewish Cooking for All Seasons, and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes.