I remember that my mom would make this on special occasions when I was little. I would always get so excited when I saw it resting in the kitchen. I couldn’t wait to eat some! I was fascinated by the rows of pears, totally mystified by how she got them to look so pretty. Now I know that the trick is a very sharp knife - a “trick” that is useful in just about every activity that involves knives.
I asked her for the recipe on an impluse; it was something I hadn’t thought about for years. I believe that it is originally from Jacques Pepin, published in a magazine called the Pleasures of Cooking, which had myriad food processor recipes. I think that it may have been published by Cuisinart, which explains this. Every edition had tons of recipes and useful advice on everything from assembling terrines to baking brioche. I quite like looking through the stack of old issues at my parent’s house.
The pear clafoutis tastes like a cross between a custard and a fruit-filled dutch baby pancake. It has a distinctly custardy flavor, but holds together almost like a cake because there is a fair amount of flour in the custard mixture. Overall, the dessert is actually quite light because the body of the custard is broken up by tender pieces of pear. I don’t think that the original recipe called for any additional flavorings, but I love to add a bit of vanilla and nutmeg into the custard mixture when I make it.
You could also make this for a fancy-ish brunch if you don’t want to save the recipe just for dessert. It can be served warm or cold.
4 barely-ripe pears, bartlett or d’anjou
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk (low fat is fine)
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 425F and lightly grease a 10-inch round baking/tart dish.
Peel pears. Slice in half and remove cores and stems. Slice crosswise every 1/8 inch and fan around a 10 inch round baking dish, stem ends facing into the center. If your pears are large, you might only use 6 halves around the outside of the pan. If this is the case, add one of the remaining pear halves to the center of the dish (as pictured above). Sprinkle pears with approx. 1 tbsp sugar.
In a food processor, blend flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, eggs, milk, vanilla and nutmeg until smooth, about 15 seconds. Pour mixture on top of pears and sprinkle again with remaining sugar.
Bake for 15 minutes at 425F. Turn oven down to 350F and bake an additional 25-30 minutes, until clafoutis is golden brown and a tester (sharp knife) inserted into the center comes out clean.
Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled.
Note: The clafoutis will fall a little bit as it cools, so don’t be surprised!