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Anything But The Pits 

Cherries are here. Put on your sneakers and run to the market. Then run like a dog in heat because these sultry summer mamas lose their sheen almost by the time you get them home.

Phew. Now you've got a cartoon moment to decide what to do with them — eat them out of a bowl with your feet propped up, or conjure a fabulous dessert that you can take to someone's July Fourth outdoor shindig?

When it comes to cherries, my first instinct is always cherry pie. But when I don't feel like I have time for playing with dough, the close runner-up is cherry clafoutis.

OK. Repeat after me: kla-foo-TEE. Tres bien.

In spite of its Frenchy moniker, a pan of clafoutis is homey, comforting and allows the fruit to be the boss. The hard part is describing what the hell it is. Not quite pudding, not quite cake. A waffle, maybe? Well ...

Baked in a cast-iron skillet or oven-proof dish, the highly scented, eggy batter gets a quick whiz in the food processor. Then you're thinking this thing is a goner; it's too runny when you pour it into the pan. How's it gonna puff up and be cakey/waffley/custardy? Don't you worry. Everything comes out cherry fabulous.

Cherry Clafoutis
Adapted from Saveur Cooks Authentic French

2 cups cherries, pitted

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Zest of one lemon, minced

7 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar (depending on tartness of cherries)

Butter for greasing pan

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

6 eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

Pinch salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 425.

Place pitted cherries in a mixing bowl. Add almond extract, cinnamon, lemon zest and 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir and let fruit macerate (soak in its juices) for about 30 minutes. Butter a 9-inch cast-iron skillet or baking dish of similar size. In the bowl of a food processor, add vanilla extract, eggs, milk, salt, flour, and remaining sugar. Blend for about one minute, until ingredients are well mixed. Pour batter into prepared baking dish. Spoon cherries on top. They will seem like they are floating, but don't worry. Place dish on a baking sheet (this protects the clafoutis from burning) and bake about 35 minutes. Center should jiggle slightly. Overbaked clafoutis (anything over 45 minutes) will most likely turn out dry. Cool for at least 20 minutes and serve in slices. For leftovers, keep covered in refrigerator and eat cold or warmed up.

- Kim O'Donnel

Culinary questions? Reach CL's Kitchen Witch at

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