These juicy, nutty, and rich Brown Butter, Hazelnut, and Cherry Clafoutis Bars are a celebration of all good things about summer, in portable form.
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It’s cherry season and I’ve been totally cherry obsessed! I think my son has a lot to do with it, because he’s been devouring bags and bags of them over the past couple of weeks. I’ve always been a casual cherry fan, but our household is now in love with them with a capital L.
The cherries I buy disappear in a blink, so I’ve started squirreling away a few cups as soon as I get home from the market because I’ve been secretly conducting baking experiments with them. See, what I love most about cherries is that they hold their shape really well through cooking and baking, and I’ve always found that their deep burgundy shade creates spectacular-looking treats.
One of the cherry desserts I’ve been making for years is clafoutis. It’s one of the few super-elegant French desserts that are actually easy to make. Cherries baked in a custard! What’s not to like about that? Though I do love the traditional form, this year I wanted to switch things up. I’ve been on a hunt for portable desserts—cookies, bars, and such—treats I can easily pack up for a picnic or bring to a friend’s house. So I wondered, would there be a way to make clafoutis portable?
Yep, I’ve turned clafoutis into a bar. And I managed to sneak brown butter into the equation. I think cherries and hazelnuts are a match made in heaven, and these clafoutis bars prove it. The buttery crust contains ground hazelnuts, and the idea of using brown butter in the filling actually came to me from a play on words: in French, brown butter is beurre noisette, or hazelnut butter, because of the delicious aroma it develops when you melt and simmer it for a while.
I first intended to use brown butter in the crust, but I was looking for a bigger flavor punch. Plus, to make sure the filling would hold its shape (as a good bar should), I had to change the usual clafoutis custard ratio: less cream, more flour, and—yes!—brown butter. The resulting texture comes close to that of a blondie, one that’s dotted with juicy, delicious cherries throughout. Are you having beurre noisette dreams yet?
I know what you’re thinking: pitting cherries is a pain. I know. I’ve probably halved and pitted thousands of cherries in my time. It’s not that hard, but this year, I succumbed to the lure of a cherry pitter. The purchase was motivated by both a hungry toddler and an impulsive want for a shiny new kitchen gadget (because I deserve it! haha). The Oxo cherry pitter had been in my Amazon wish list for years and let me tell you, it’s worth every penny. Like all Oxo gadgets, it’s sturdy, comfortable to use, efficient, and easy to clean. I’m not looking back! I know this sounds like an infomercial, but it is not, in any way. I just have to tell you that if you’re a serious cherry lover, this gadget won’t gather dust at the back of your drawer.
So if you, too, manage to save a few cherries from the ravenous cherry lovers around you, please give these clafoutis bars a try. They’re a celebration of all good things about summer, in bar form.
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