Cherries, of course, are the fruits used in the most classical French preparation of clafoutis. As recently as 2 weeks ago, black cherries were in abundance all over my local markets. I bought them for eating whole, for making black cherry iced tea, but not for baking. Now it’s too late, and the only cherries left are rotten-looking and expensive.
Yesterday at the grocery store I grabbed some lychees, which still seem to be semi-abundant. Not best looking lychees ever, but good enough for Beijing. Lychees hold their shape very well when baked, so I just soaked them in rum and made tropics-influenced clafoutis with a coconut milk custard. They took longer to bake than I thought, because the deepness of my ramekins. But they did make my kitchen, and entire apartment for that matter, smell like lychees. Really, there is no need for scented candles or home fragrance sprays when you live with a baker.
I thought my mini clafoutis turned out rather well, with nicely caramelized tops and mellow coconut and lychee flavors as anchors. However, J didn’t particularly like them, commenting only that they were “interesting.” To spare any hurt feelings (on my part), I will just attribute his lack of enthusiasm to our different tastes in desserts, him leaning more towards the bitingly sweet concoctions, the chocolate-supremacy school of thought.
Other desserts with fruit:
Lychee Rum Clafoutis
Makes 6 or so, if you use small ramekins
2 1/2 pounds lychees, peeled and pitted
2 tablespoons light rum
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup rice flour
1 tsp cornstarch
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon butter for greasing ramekins
Coconut flakes for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pour rum over lychees and leave to soak while you prepare your custard.
In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, coconut milk, and vanilla. Mix well. Add sugar, flour, cornstarch, and salt. Mix until well combined. (Don’t worry about a few lumps of flour here and there. They will not be noticeable after baking.)
Divide lychees into well-greased ramekins. Pour batter until 1 or 2 centimeters from the top. Pop into oven, and cook for 45 to 50 minutes, until top becomes golden-brownish. Remove from the oven, and cool for at least 10 minutes before eating. Sprinkle top of coconut flakes, and serve warm or at room temperature.