In less than 24 hours, I was set to embark on a pilgrimage. Sadly, that pilgrimage has been postponed due a nemesis named Hurricane Sandy; however, the recipe my pilgrimage inspired is so sublime, I couldn’t wait to share it with you!
The dish is PEAR CLAFOUTIS, and my pilgrimage is to the fair city of Milwaukee.
Pear Clafoutis is worth a pilgrimage but takes less than 10 minutes to prep. That’s what I call ultimate taste-effort payoff.
Admittedly, my journey breaks with the traditional definition of pilgrimage on a few key points:
My purpose is not explicitly spiritual.
My mode of transport is Honda Civic vs. my two feet.
I’ll be pigging out on local Italian food instead of fasting along the way.
Milwaukee may be a nice town, but I wouldn’t exactly call it a holy site.
Traditional or no, I approach my quest with all the reverence of a nun in a chapel…and all the enthusiasm of a preteen at a Justin Bieber concert.
My end destination: a live Q&A with a personal hero whose work never fails to inspire me. She’s kind, intelligent, and I’d give up cookies for a year just to be her assistant for a week. Ladies and gents, I am stoked to see Ms. Ina Garten, known to many as The Barefoot Contessa.
Who wouldn’t want to work for this lady?
Long-time blog followers are no doubt aware of my love for Ina. Some of my favorite recipes have been inspired from hers, including my CREAMY BASIL PESTOandSOUTHWEST CONFETTI CORN. On my Aboutpage, she is #1 on my list of Most Trusted Chefs.
Not only do I love Ina’s recipes—which are founded upon cooking to enhance the flavors of good, simple ingredients—but I respect her tremendously as a person.
She left a promising career at the White House to follow her culinary dreams.
On her show “Barefoot Contessa”, she features her real friends and neighbors.
She turned down numerous offers to develop her own magazine, line of furniture, set of cookware, and chain of boutiques because she has “no interest in further complicating her life.”
Did I mention, her recipes are amazing?!
One slice of this Pear Clafoutis is completely satisfying. That didn’t stop my victory lap(s).
Ina will be in Milwaukee to launch her new cookbook Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust, and I goaded my saint of a mother-in-law, Danielle, to join me. I mean, who wouldn’t want to attend a culinary Q&A on a Friday night?
Pear apeel for a perfect clafoutis
In honor of the big event (and prior to the guest of honor getting trapped out east—boo, Sandy), I prepared one of Ina’s most well-loved desserts: PEAR CLAFOUTIS.Clafoutis (pronounced “claw-foo-tea”) is a traditional French country dessert that consists of fresh fruit arranged in a buttered dish and topped with a lightly-sweetened custard pancake. The delightful, oh-so-French addition of fruit brandy catapults this airy, yet decadent dessert to the heavens.
A lightly buttered dish creates magic with the pears’ juices in this Pear Clafoutis.
(If you want to get technical, a true clafoutis is made with cherries, and when other fruits are used, the dish is properly called a flaugnarde, but if clafoutis is good enough for Ina, it’s good enough for me.)
Eating PEAR CLAFOUTISis like tasting an immaculate pear cloud. I cannot say enough about how exquisitely light, yet quietly sublimeit is. The eggs and cream create an airy, flan-like custard, and the pears’ juices melt with the butter and sugar for just the right amount of sweetness.
Pear slices, topped with a light custard pancake for a perfect Pear Clafoutis. As Ina would say, “How bad can that be?”
And the pear brandy. Oh my goodness, please do not skip the pear brandy. I found an adorable, itty-bitty bottle for less than $5 at my local liquor store, and let me tell you, it is worth it. The brandy adds a luxurious depth of flavor that really makes the PEAR CLAFOUTISsomething special.
Pear brandy adds a special je-ne-sais-quoi to thisPear Clafoutis.
As if the resplendent taste of PEAR CLAFOUTISisn’t enough of a reason to run and bake it this very instant, it is also one of the easiest desserts I have ever prepared. The batter whips up in five minutes, takes a single bowl, and requires practically no culinary skill. One bite, however, and you will consider yourself a skilled French chef!
PEAR CLAFOUISis a beautiful example of Ina’s simple, yet superb dishes. Enjoy!
Pear Clafoutis: A sublime cloud that will make you feel like a gourmet French chef in 10 minutes or less!
Butter a 10 in. round baking dish and sprinkle the bottom and sides with 1 T. granulated sugar.
Beat the eggs and the 1?3 c. granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or beat in a large mixing bowl if you do not have a standing mixer) on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. On low speed, mix in the flour, cream, vanilla extract, lemon zest, salt, and pear brandy. Set aside for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel, quarter, core, and slice the pears (about 1/4 in. - 1/2 in. thickness should do the trick). Arrange the slices in a single layer, slightly fanned out, in the prepared baking dish. Pour the batter over the pears.
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 crème fraiche, if desired.
*Ingredient notes: To tell if pears are ready, they should still be firm to the touch, but have a juicy, fruity smell. For pear brandy, many liquor stores will sell small bottles containing just a few tablespoons for less than $5. No need to invest in a larger size; however, pear brandy is so nectary and delicious, you may just decide to go for it!Serving size note: Since I’m cooking for two (and Ben is bizarrely lacking in the sweet-tooth department), I halved the recipe and baked in a small gratin dish for 30 minutes. Results were outstanding.