This slightly gussied-up version of the simple classic is from Dorie Greenspan's Paris Sweets, a collection of wonderful recipes the author collected from famous parisian patisseries. I love this cookbook, and Ms. Greenspan, because both are not only inspired, but entirely reliable. My copy is ratty and stained, due to serious use. Often, in the middle of one of Ms. Greenspan's recipes, there will be a description of what things should look like at that point, cautions on pitfalls to avoid, or timely reassurances when you wonder if you've made a mistake. She can do this, because she has clearly, herself, made all these recipes- and not only once.
You can be confident that all her recipes, here and elsewhere, are properly tested and proof-read, and this is, sadly, not all that common. Many cookbooks have recipes which sound wonderful, but are horribly disappointing in the execution. How often have you tried a good-sounding recipe from a newspaper which just didn't work, and wondered if someone just made it up, and wrote it down, without ever trying it? Probably, to be truly useful, a cookbook review should be written by someone who has tried a good portion of the recipes. I guess this is not generally practical for most print reviewers. Which is why I've taken to looking up cookbooks in blogs I trust, when I'm thinking of buying one.
I often consult Paris Sweets when I want to make a company dessert. Tonight, we're having shrimp and corn chowder, salad, and biscuits for dinner. I had an unbaked tart shell sitting in my favorite little square pan, and about 12 oz. of frozen, organic sour pie cherries. This variant clafoutis used both and sounded like a good candidate. I've made claufoutis before, usually in a skillet- more like a big pancake or cake, finished in the oven. This one, from Patisserie Mulot, is literally "tarted up", in that it is baked in a pastry shell. This makes it possible to have a softer, more custardy filling, since the pastry gives it form.
The only thing I did differently from the Paris Sweets recipe is a little trick I learned from Paula Wolfert's clafouti recipe from The Cooking of Southwest France-a simpler recipe I'm more likely to make on the spur of the moment. (Not that this one is in any way complex-except for doing the pastry.) When you are baking with frozen cherries, if you put a few spoonsful of the sugar, taken from the sugar in your recipe, into a plasic freezer bag with the frozen cherries, shake it up well, and put it back in the freezer for a few hours, this prevents the cherries from bleeding into custard or dough, or whatever you are making. Also in aid of the non-bleeding thing, I set the cherries on the partly baked shell, and poured the custard over-rather than mixing them into the custard.
To make this you need:
1 partially baked 9 inch tart shell in loose bottomed tart pan
6 tbsps sugar-or a bit more if cherries are very sour
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsps real vanilla extract
11 oz frozen, pitted cherries (pref sour)
note:it is actually traditional to leave the pits in for flavor, and this works, but nearly everyone complains that it is too much trouble to eat this way. I like it, but I don't think anyone else I know does- so I don't try it on any more
Preheat oven to 400F. Put partially baked tart shell on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Set the cherries on the shell in a single layer, distributing them randomly, but more or less evenly. Beat eggs well with sugar and vanilla. Add cream and mix thoroughly. Do not overbeat,at this point, or you will add too much air and volume. Pour over cherries. Bake about 30 minutes, until custard is set. It should not jiggle-even in the middle. Cool a bit, and remove from tart pan. Serve slightly warm, or at room temperature.
By the way, if you search Toast with my little google device, over on the left side there, for "Paris Sweets" you will find several other recipes from this very nice book.