The farmers’ market has exploded with produce in the past two weeks, and sour cherries have made their appearance (along with apricots, sweet cherries, and lots of other great fruits). Inspired by the selection,I decided I needed to make a clafoutis. This is a quick dessert that comes from France–think baked pancake with fruit in it. Essentially, its a thick crepe batter (or thin pancake batter without leavening) that you pour over cherries (usually) and bake until set. Texture-wise, it sort of comes out custardy, rather than cake-like.
The main issue with cherries is how to deal with the pits. Sure, you can just spit out the pit if you eat them one by one, but for a pie or other cooked use, you’ve got to decide how to pit them. Yes, I know, traditionally with a clafoutis you leave the pits in for the theoretical almond flavor that the pits are supposed to infuse into the baked good, but…I find it highly doubtful that you’d get much almond flavor, especially since they aren’t cracked (it’s the internal kernel that provides the compounds, I understand). Also, younger kids have a hard time handling the pits in a baked dish, and I don’t much fancy cracking a tooth on one.
So, how to handle the tedious task of pitting cherries. We don’t own a cherry pitter since it’s a uni-tasker, and don’t have room for it given how rarely we are in a place with cherries, much less olives we’d have to pit to use. I’ve used a bench knife to flatten the fruit and pick out the pits before—it’s messy, but works. The internets suggested using a bent paperclip to dig out the pit. Also, since a pitter works by pushing the seed out, I looked around and thought that maybe a decorating tip could also work. I decided to compare a closed star tip, a round tip, and a paperclip.
The paperclip tore the cherries apart, and wasn’t all that quick. The first round decorating tip also made a mess of the cherries, but was marginally quicker. The closed star did a great job, especially once I got in a rhythm. I put the tip on my thumb, rested the cherry with the stem between my index and middle fingers, and pushed the seed through. The problem was the tines of the star started to bend. I switched to a #5 round tip, which did the job perfectly. The cherries stayed whole for the most part, and the pits came right through.
I’m pretty pleased with the end result: a sour cherry clafouti without the risk of cracked teeth and topped with mascarpone cheese thinned with a little milk so it could mound up like whipped cream.