I have a terrible sweet tooth (as you may have divined if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time), but my sweet tooth is not typical. Not for me the sweetness overload, the gooey cakes, the sugary cookies and candies. I prefer a more subtle sweetness, balanced by savory, or tart, or nutty flavors. Something that could easily be served for breakfast or afternoon tea.
Enter the clafoutis. A classic French dessert that’s sometimes described as a custard, sometimes as a pancake. It is a custard with flour, a pancake with more cream. Or it’s own thing. An eggy, custardy, but not insubstantial dessert with a subtle sweetness that is braced by whatever fruit it is made with. It’s not much to look at, generally — it’s really a country casserole, with nubs of fruit poking through a golden, eggy crust. It’s practically foolproof to make, and the batter comes together almost instantaneously. And yes, I am hooked.
The classic clafoutis is made with cherries, and indeed, a cherry clafoutis was on my agenda as I hit the grocery store. But then I spied the rhubarb — enticingly ruby stalks promising fragrance and tartness and that indefinable exotic yet familiar flavor that only rhubarb offers — and I was a goner.
I adore rhubarb everything, and I like it best where the flavor of the rhubarb shines through without much adornment in the form of strawberries or orange juice or other such nonsense. Rhubarb does, however, pair beautifully with custard, as the English know so well, and I thought it would make a lovely clafoutis — it’s melting tenderness complementing the silkiness of the custard/pancake.
Not too sweet, fragrant and juicy from the rhubarb, with the eggy structure of the clafoutis? Yes please.
- 1 lb. rhubarb
- 3 T. granulated sugar
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup granulated sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
- Pinch of salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup flour
- ¾ cup whole milk
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop the rhubarb into roughly 1 inch pieces, taking care to discard the leaves. In a 10X6 baking dish, toss the rhubarb pieces with the sugar. Roast 10-15 minutes, or until the rhubarb is tender.
- Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs together with the sugar until blended. Add salt and vanilla, whisk until combined. Whisk in flour until thoroughly combined, then whisk in cream and milk.
- Pour Clafoutis batter over the roasted rhubarb. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until the clafoutis is puffy and golden. Sprinkle additional granulated sugar over the top, and serve with whipped cream.