Fresh sour cherries are not something you can usually find at your local grocery store. They are delicate, spoil easily, and do not suffer long truck rides well. Their season, a maddeningly brief interlude at midsummer, is, however, the occasion for many a farmers’ market zealot’s bright-eyed happy dance. In the DC metro area, each farmers’ market may have only one or two vendors selling them, and the harvest is usually just enough for a lucky (early) few to score enough for a pie or two. I try to make one cherry pie every summer, using Martha Stewart’s excellent recipe, and this year’s was especially good. I found some more cherries this past weekend, and decided to try something a little different. Clafoutis is a French dessert, a crustless fruit custard in which cherries are often added, unpitted, so some claim, because of the richer flavor imbued by the pits. Though that seems to me somewhat unlikely, the pits of sour cherries are quite small, and easy enough to eat around, so I leave them in. I suspect that without them the clafoutis will taste quite similar, but the resultant collapse of the spherical structure of cherries may make the appearance less dramatic. Most cherry clafoutis are flavored with almonds and lemon, but I think chocolate makes a wonderful addition.
Chocolate Cherry Clafoutis
1 pound fresh sour cherries
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
Toss cherries in 2 tablespoons sugar & cornstarch. Place in buttered deep-dish pie pan. Whisk eggs, milk, & vanilla, then whisk in butter & remaining sugar. Separately, whisk flour & cocoa, then whisk into egg mixture until well combined. Pour over cherries. Bake 1 hour at 325º. Serve room temperature or chilled.