Frequently I get a taste for a recipe I would like to make before I have any idea whether such a thing even exists or how to go about making it. Luckily, that doesn't stop me from experimenting, usually to the effect of combining my favorite parts of up to three recipes to varying degrees of success. Such is the case this time, having an inexplicable yen for a combination of almond and pear for the past couple of weeks. Though the inspiration, I suspect, may have something to do with the bag of almond flour peering out of the fridge balefully at me every time I open the door as if to say "You didn't pay $13 per pound just to let me sit here moldering in the fridge, did you?" Alas, this recipe still doesn't involve almond flour so stay tuned for more almond-themed recipes in the near future.
Though I knew I wanted some combination of almond and pear, I actually had a picture in my mind of some type of dessert that wasn't exactly a tart (with a cold, almond cream filling) but was warm without having any type of cobbler-like crust. Then it finally struck me that what I was looking for already exists, and is called a 'clafoutis.' No, it's not pronounced "cluh-fow-tiss" but "clah-foo-TEE" and comes from the word "clafir," which means "to fill." Clafoutis is traditionally a French country dessert from the region of Limousin and is typically made with cherries covered in a batter that, when baked, is somewhere between a cake and a custard. Clafoutis can be made with any fruit though, technically, if you use anything other than cherries the French refer to it as a "flognarde." (Again, this is pronounced "flo-NYARD" not "flog-nard").
There's something very satisfying about finding and preparing a recipe that is exactly the taste you've been looking for, and I encourage you to try out this recipe with whatever fruits you might prefer. Especially since I've chosen a combination that is decidedly out of season. This recipe can be adapted for any fruit by replacing the almond extract with vanilla extract, and here is also a link for the incomparable Julia Childs' cherry clafoutis recipe. Oh, and I almost forgot my favorite part of the recipe--even though you start by placing the fruit in the bottom of the dish, it magically rises to the top during baking for a gorgeous presentation! Yes, I am easily amused. Enjoy!
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 ripe but firm Comice or Bartlett pears
peeled, halved, and cored
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons almond extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
(confectioner's sugar and slivered almonds, optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees; butter a 9" pie plate. Slice the pears 1/4" thick lengthwise. Arrange the slice, overlapping slightly, in the dish.
2. In a blender or with a hand-mixer, process the melted butter, sugar, flour, extract, eggs, milk and salt until smooth.
3. Pour the batter over the pears; bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, 40-45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, dusted with confectioners sugar and topped with slivered almonds, if desired.
*Note, this recipe is more on the "custard" side, if you want one that's a little more "cakey" then I'd suggest the Julia Childs recipe, or one that calls for more flour