Monday, 23 December 2013

Individual Pear Clafoutis

I previously posted a recipe for Cherry Clafoutis and mentioned that all manner of fruits could be used. I find that blueberries work particularly well, but pears are particularly delicious especially if you include a generous glug of Amaretto – the Italian almond flavoured liqueur – in the batter. Almonds and pears have a natural affinity for each other and I think that they complement each other so well in this recipe.
 
I know that I am posting yet another recipe using pears, but the reasons for this are simple…
 
Pears are in season and I passionately believe that where possible we should cook to the seasons, using ingredients that are plentiful at that particular time of the year. Where feasible, I also try to use Irish ingredients. This makes practical sense on so many levels. Produce that is in season tends to be abundant and as a result is often much cheaper to buy than at other times of the year when the elevated prices that you pay are basically to subsidise the costs of shipping and flying the produce half way around the world.
 
Using fruit as an example, so often the fruits are picked when very under-ripe, are packed into cold-storage and then shipped thousands of miles. They apparently ripen on the journey and continue to do so when they arrive in our supermarkets and shops. Is it little wonder that these foods are so often tasteless? Eating fruit and vegetables grown in this country, when they are in season, makes sense because they usually taste so much better!
 
For the cook this inevitably means that you will be using certain ingredients more often depending on the time of the year, but honestly, I don’t have a problem with this! I will have my fill of them when they are in season and then re-acquaint myself with them with renewed and joyful enthusiasm each year.
 
It is also interesting to note that the reason that certain foods go so well together is because they are in season at the same time. Blackberries, pears and hazelnuts are a perfect example. They are harvested at roughly the same time and it is therefore inevitable that many classic recipes have been developed that use them together. Game is also in season at the same time that blackberries and other hedgerow fruits are coming in to fruit and again it is little wonder that they are so often paired together on the plate.
 
So, here is another pear recipe, but it’s a simple one and it tastes delicious. One piece of advice, use pears that are ripe and do remove the inner core using a melon baller or small teaspoon. The pears will then be beautifully cooked all the way through. I like to keep the pears whole and retain the stalks as I think that they look very alluring when served on their individual pillows of plumped-up clafoutis batter!
 

Ingredients:

6 small ripe pears, peeled but left whole with stalks intact80g caster sugar
2 large eggs
90g plain flour sieved
30g butter, melted
1 tblsp Amaretto
150ml milk
½ tsp vanilla paste
2-3 tblsp icing sugar
 

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Fan Oven 160C.Gas Mark 4.2. Grease 6 individual jumbo muffin tins or largish individual ramekins (about 150ml capacity) with butter.
3. Beat the sugar, eggs and vanilla paste together with a whisk until well mixed. Next whisk in the flour.
4. Finally add the melted butter, milk and Amaretto and ensure that everything is well mixed.
5. Divide the mixture evenly between the greased muffin tins/ramekins and then pop a whole peeled pear upright into each on top of the batter. Immediately place into the pre-heated oven for approximately 30 minutes until the batter has puffed up, is golden brown and the pears are cooked through.
6. Remove from the muffin tins or serve in the individual ramekins whilst still warm with pouring cream, caramel sauce or custard. Dust with a little icing sugar if you like.
 

Serves 6.