Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Pear Clafoutis with Fleur de Sel Caramel
First, before the food, a food news! I have the honor to announce that I am now one of the online editors at www.tastespotting.com. As most of you know, tastepostting is a great outlet for all of us food blog owners, and I have been using it for months. I cannot overstate how happy I am to be a part of the project. I have already discovered dozens of wonderful blogs through all the photographs submitted to the site and it's been great to be a part of the approval process. I look forward to discovering more of the blogs out there!
Now.. for this little dessert. There are those days when you're just not in the mood to make a real, rustic tart dough. Yesterday was one of those days. Let's face it, no matter how much you like to cook, there will be days when you want to take the easy way out. For some it might be take-out or running to the closest pastry shop, but for me it's going for a quick substitute. Clafoutis is possibly one of the easiest ways to make a fruit tart without worrying about making dough. It's as simple as cutting fresh fruit and pouring a sweet custard mixture over top.
I have also been meaning to try out this simple caramel recipe we used to make at culinary school and to tweak it a little at home. It's the easiest caramel sauce, and we would use it to decorate our dessert plates. I decided to add a touch of 'fleur de sel'- a gourmet hand-harvested salt - which added a nice hint of salty goodness. Fleur de sel is quite a pricey ingredient, but I've really grown to love what it adds to meals. In this case, it turned a simple caramel sauce into a burst of different flavors.
Recipe (makes 6 individual clafoutis)
1/3 cup of sugar, and extra for your molds
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons of Grand Marnier
3 firm but ripe Bartlett pears
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Butter each mold lightly, sprinkle some sugar and tap off excess.
Beat the eggs and the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Lower the speed and the flour, cream, vanilla extract, lemon zest, salt, and Grand Marnier. Reserve
Meanwhile, peel,core and cut the pears into thin slices. Using about half a pear per mold, gently arrange the slices so as to cover the bottom of each mold. Pour the batter over the pears. Bake until the top is golden brown and the custard is set. This will take about 40 minutes.
1 cup of sugar
2/3 cup of water
1/2 cup of cream
1/2 teaspoon of fleur de sel
In a pan on medium heat, add the sugar and water. Without stirring, let the sugar dissolve in the water (until the mixture looks like water only). Once it has, let the mixture come to a simmer. At this point, you can gently swirl the pan around. Be extremely gently (and stay concentrated) because the mixture is extremely hot. Keep a watchful eye on the mixture, and wait for it to turn a nice mahogany color. It will take about 6-7 minutes to change colors, but once it has started it will go very quickly. The sugar also burns very fast once the color changes, so be careful. Once the caramel has reached the right color, remove from the heat and slowly add the cream. If the sugar starts to harden, place back on low heat for a couple minutes and let the sugar melt down. Once the mixture is homogeneous, set aside and leave to cool. The caramel sauce can be stored in the fridge, and gently re-heated before using. Enjoy!