This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, where we continue our journey with the highly inspirational Yotam Ottolenghi, our theme is "Fruitfull". Time to choose an Ottolenghi dish which features fruit, whether it be fresh, dried or frozen, and let me tell you there are many. I love the way in which Ottolenghi combines fruit with savoury ingredients in many of his dishes - it's one of the many things that I find incredibly appealing about his food - but this week I just decided to run with dessert.
When it comes to dessert, much as I like to eat a nice "fancy-schmancy" dessert, making them is not my idea of fun ... no latent pastry chef in this girl. No, dessert making for me has to be simple and fuss-free - the kind of thing that you can knock together in a few minutes, but which still looks elegant and most of all tastes great. And one of my favourite desserts, both to make and to eat, is a clafouti - after all, what's not to love about fruit baked in a light and delicate egg custard? Although it is traditionally made with cherries, and only cherries, you can really use any fruit which is seasonal - I know French housewives everywhere are probably throwing their hands up in horror at this suggestion, but really you can. I was inspired by the recipe for Individual Plum Clafoutis in Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, but with stone fruit being out of season here right now, pears seemed like a good option. And, of course, if you're having pears, you might as well have chocolate, right? The two are after all made for each other.
This dessert is a doddle to make, and although these servings look quite substantial, the clafouti is in fact quite light, so this is certainly not the kind of dessert that is going to weigh you down at the end of a meal. A nice alternative to a fruit tart or crumble in that regard I think, and infinitely quicker and easier to make. At the risk of shocking a few French housewives, I hope you'll throw caution to the wind and give this a try.
Pear & Chocolate Clafouti
Adapted from a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
Makes 4 large individual servings
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
2x large ripe, but not soft, pears (I used Beurre Bosc)
3x large free-range eggs
70g (2-1/2 oz) caster sugar
70g (2-1/2 oz) plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (I used Heilalla)
150ml (5 fl oz) cream
pinch of salt
100g (3.5 oz) dark chocolate, roughly chopped (I used Whittaker's Dark Ghana)
icing sugar to dust
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C (340 degrees F). Use medium sized individual, ovenproof dishes or tins - I used some gratin dishes which were 14 cm (5-1/2 in) in diameter, and 4 cm (1-1/2 in) deep. Lightly brush the insides of the dishes with a little vegetable oil and set aside.
Peel the pears, cut in half, and remove the cores. Now slice thinly lengthwise, without slicing all the way through, so that the slices remained attached to each other at the stem end. Fan out the slices from the stem and place half a pear in the base of each dish. Sprinkle one quarter of the chocolate over each one.
Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in a medium sized mixing bowl and the whites in a small one.
Add the caster sugar to the egg yolks and, using an electric mixer, beat until the mixture is thick and pale. With a rubber spatula, fold in the flour, then gently mix in the vanilla paste, cream and salt.
Whisk the egg whites to stiff, but not dry, peak stage. Then gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
Pour the mixture over the pears and chocolate, and bake in the preheated oven until puffed and golden, and skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean - about 20 minutes.
Dust with icing sugar just before serving.
If you would like to get to know Yotam Ottolenghi a little better, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all cooked up ...
... or check out Ottolenghi: The Cookbook and Ottolenghi's other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK or Fishpond NZ.
I will also be submitting this post to Sweet New Zealand. Inspired by Alessandra Zecchini, Sweet New Zealand is an event for all Kiwi bloggers (whether living at home or abroad), or all foreign bloggers living in New Zealand, to link up their sweet treats. This month, Sweet New Zealand is hosted by my friend Nicola at Homegrown Kitchen.
I will also be sharing this post at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the delightful Michelle at Ms. enPlace.