pear flaugnarde (clafoutis)

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if you want something crunchy, a cobbler is your dish; if you want a subtly sweet, flavor-rich complement to the natural crispness of the pears that your spoon can sink into, try the flaugnarde. also known as a clafoutis although purist deem that clafoutis specifically have cherry fillings (with pits intact, thank you very much); everything else is a flognard or flaugnarde.

pears tend to ooze juice so i've pan-fried first to reduce the liquid. more custardy than cakey, similar to bread pudding, the flaugnarde will puff up like a soufflé in the oven but will deflate by the time you serve it.

can be served warm or cold, though flavor is more intense, warm with a dollop of whipped cream or crème fraîche on top or ice cream on the side.

yields: 8 4-oz servings
fruit compote
1/4 c (1/2 stick) butter
2 lbs (3-4) pears, peeled, cored, quartered and sliced 1/2-inch thick (5 cups)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp fruit brandy or light rum [optional]
4 large eggs
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
powderred sugar, for sprinkling on top
whipped cream, crème fraîche or ice cream
special equipment
10-inch skillet, ovenproof or 7-8 cup capacity baking pan, greased
baking sheet
1. preheat oven to 350°F. set rack to middle position
2. heat up skillet at medium-high heat until it's very hot and then add butter to melt and brown just a bit. add the spices and stir until aromatic. immediately add the pears, stir to coat the pears and cook just until they lose most of their moisture. add the sugar and brandy, if using, and stir occasionally. finish cooking until pears are cooked almost completely through, but still have a little bit of crunch left, and the liquid has reduced by half (about 3 cups of pear mixture).
3. while pears are reducing, beat eggs and sugar until fluffy. stir in salt, vanilla extract and flour. add milk and mix until smooth.
4. when pears are done reducing, pour batter into the same skillet and place in oven, making sure pears are evenly distributed in skillet. set baking sheet underneath to catch bubbling liquid spilling out. bake until clafoutis set in center and become golden on top, about 45 minutes. garnish with powdered sugar and cream.
pears to use:
barlett: best for baking as flesh remains firm
bosc: firm and crunchy like asian pears, thicker-skinned, better poached, grainy when baked
comice: very flavorful and juicy, good for baking
d'anjou: thin-skinned, slightly grainy and very juicy, breaks down easily so couple with bartlett to have different textures. cook bartlett first

when i'm feeling adventurous, perhaps will try flambé with 1 tablespoon of a fruit brandy like a pear brandy or a framboise or a grappa using this recipe here. or just rum

Julia Child's clafoutis recipe creates a layer of batter on the bottom by "pre-baking" a 1/4" of the batter in the pan until it's set (about 5-8 minutes) before adding the fruit layer on top. example on Chowhound

bake in individual ramekins for a simply elegant presentation. butter up 8 6-oz ramekins and fill up to 3/4 full as clafouti will puff up while baking. set in baking sheet.
Cuisine   FrenchDish   Dessert
Cooking Method   BakedPrep Time   less than 15 minutes
Cooking Time   45 minutes 
Features   Low-Sodium, Vegetarian

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