Black is Beautiful Cherry Clafoutis
Clafoutis has been on my mind since it’s cherry season and clafoutis is just as fun to make as it is to say (Pronunciation: ‘Kla-foo-tee’ or ‘klafuti’). It’s a versatile and easy recipe with French origins that looks and sounds more impressive than the actual effort you have to put in. Made with eggs, sugar, flour, salt, and milk, it’s a baked custard-like filling that holds together fresh fruit and is wonderful for breakfast, as a snack, or served as a dessert.
I have been stress baking like crazy because of my current state of mind in response to the nationwide Black Lives Matter protests calling for an end to police brutality and systematic racism against Black Americans. So I made this Cherry Clafoutis a little different, it’s my Black is Beautiful Cherry Clafoutis. You’ll notice that the batter is a magnificent black color instead of the usual creamy, golden-white batter. Just because it’s black doesn’t mean it’s any different. It is absolutely delicious, tastes exactly the same, and at the heart of it, it’s still a Clafoutis even if the color is different than what you’re used to seeing.
You might be interested in my Baker's Against Racism Bake Sale going on now through June 20. 100% of the sales will be donated to the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter. More on amplifying Black voices, Black bakers to follow, and a deeply personal racist memory from my childhood in the June 2020 BWC Newsletter. By the way, please sign up for the email list if you’re into that kind of thing!
How to Bake with Activated Charcoal
I used food-grade activated charcoal powder to color the batter black. Black food coloring also another option if you’re unsure about using charcoal in food. When baking with charcoal I noticed that it absorbs liquid and tends to make whatever you’re baking on the dry side. So I compensate for this by adding some extra moisture or liquid into whatever I’m making. I accounted for this in the recipe below.
Black charcoal food was all the rage and the food trend of 2017 -- it was in everything from ice cream to burger buns, lattes to waffles, and even in beauty products and juice. Activated charcoal is the byproduct of burning coconut shells, wood, or other plant materials. Health-wise, food-grade charcoal from coconut is safe to eat but you probably shouldn’t eat too much of it because it can absorb essential nutrients or medication from your body. Use with caution.
I won’t get into the health claims or why the NYC Health Department banned using it as a food additive. You can research it on your own and decide for yourself, here’s an article to start. I am of the opinion “everything in moderation.” Using a little bit of charcoal to color your desserts and eaten sparingly in moderation will be just fine. Don’t eat it every day. If you’re unsure and don’t want to risk it, then just use black food coloring instead. Ok? Great.
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I highly recommend '1619' from The New York Times -- an audio series on how slavery has transformed America, connecting past and present through the oldest form of storytelling. If you want to understand how and why racism has become systematic and entrenched in America, this will illuminate major events in American history and culture. Listen to this as you're baking to bring out your #ragebaking.
Get the Recipe
Black is Beautiful Cherry Clafoutis
A stunning twist on the traditional clafoutis featuring sweet cherries and all-black flan and custard-like batter. Cherries are the traditional fruit of choice, but clafoutis is great with any fresh seasonal fruit or berries. A Baking With Chickens Original Recipe, adapted from Julia Child’s Clafoutis Recipe via The New York Times.
Time to Prepare: 40 minutes
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling on the batter
6 tablespoons butter (melted, plus an extra 1 tablespoon to butter the dish)
1 1/8 cups whole milk (or any creamy milk substitute like almond, soy, or oat)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon food-grade activated charcoal (or black food coloring)
2 cups cherries, pitted and halved
1 small spoonful of powdered sugar in a shaker/sieve
2 teaspoons rum or brandy (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter a medium-size baking dish (pie pan, cake pan, whatever you have that’s oven-safe) approx 9 to 10-inches in diameter and at least 1 1/2 inches deep.
2. Mix the sugar, eggs, butter, milk, almond extract, salt, flour, food-grade charcoal, and optional rum/brandy together in a large bowl (or blender) until smooth. The batter should be smooth and shiny.
3. Place about 2/3 of the cherries on the bottom of the baking dish. Slowly pour the batter evenly over the cherries in the pan, and place the remaining cherries on top of the batter. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the top of the batter and fruit.
4. Place in the center of the oven and bake about 30-40 minutes, until top is puffed and the center is completely set. Because the batter is black you won’t be able to see if it’s golden-brown.
5. Cool slightly, and sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving. (Clafoutis is best enjoyed warm. It will sink slightly as it cools.)
6. Take a bite, enjoy, and contemplate how you can do better to help end the cycle of systematic racism and prejudice.
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