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Author Notes: If I had to name my favorite weeknight party dessert, it would have to be – in the fall and winter, at least – a flaugnarde (a clafoutis made with something other than cherries). This time of year, I usually make them with lightly caramelized apple or pear slices, which I prepare while letting the batter rest and the oven heat. What could be easier? I’ve been wanting for quite some time to make a dessert using prunes soaked in Semillon, after discovering Paula Wolfert’s recipe for prunes in Sauternes in her interesting, brilliantly informative “The Cooking of South-West France.” They’re heavenly. And the simple, rustic flaugnarde provides a perfect medium for showcasing them. I’ve used the basic flavor profile in Wolfert’s prune recipe, though I use a Columbia Valley Semillon, which somewhat resembles a Sauternes, instead. Once the prunes have soaked up most of the wine, I reduce the remaining syrup and add it to a one-step blender batter that takes about a minute to make. Just be sure to plan your other activities in the kitchen to give the batter a chance to rest before assembling the dish and popping it into the oven. It may soon become your favorite easy autumn dessert, as it has mine. Enjoy!! ;o)
Makes one 9" round flaugnarde
- 6 ounces pitted prunes
- 1 cup Semillon (or Sauternes, or a fruity white Bordeaux)
- 1 ½ cup half and half
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon best-quality vanilla extract
- Zest of one lemon
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon + a dash for sprinkling on top
- 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
- ½ cup almond meal (See notes in steps 6 and 7, below, if you prefer to use flour instead.)
- At least 6 hours before making the flaugnarde, put the prunes and the wine in a small heavy saucepan and simmer over medium heat for 3 – 4 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover, and set aside.
- When ready to make the flaugnarde, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Remove the prunes from the saucepan, pressing on them gently to release excess syrup back into the pan. Reduce the syrup over a low heat for about 2 or 3 minutes, or until there is only about 2 tablespoons left. Remove from the heat.
- Meanwhile, put the half and half, the eggs, vanilla, lemon zest and ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon into a blender.
- Press the confectioners’ sugar through a mesh sieve to remove the lumps. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a small bowl.
- Add the remaining sugar and the syrup from the pan to the blender, as well as the almond meal. If you want to use flour instead of almond meal, don’t add it quite yet.
- Blend thoroughly for about a minute. If you are using flour, add it after blending, then blend just a few more seconds to incorporate it.
- Allow the batter to rest for about fifteen minutes.
- Prepare a 9 inch pie plate by buttering it generously. Put it on a large cookie sheet.
- Scatter the prunes in the pie plate.
- Once the batter has rested, pour it over the prunes in the pie plate.
- Put the pie plate -- still on the cookie sheet -- in the middle of the oven and cook for 40 - 45 minutes. Check after 20-25 minutes. If it is darkening too much around the edges, frame it with foil as you would a pie crust to keep it from browning further. (If it hasn’t browned too much, check again after about 35 minutes total.)
- It will puff up slightly when done. It should generally seem firm, though the center may be ever so slightly soft.
- Add a good dash of cinnamon to the reserved confectioners’ sugar and stir to combine.
- Once the flaugnarde has been out of the oven for about 5 minutes, shake the sugar and cinnamon through a fine sieve all over the flaugnarde.
- Allow it to sit for a few minutes more before serving.
- Enjoy!! ;o)
- N.B. The blender method and ratios for the batter are based somewhat on the pear flaugnarde recipe in Russ Parsons' terrific, "How to Pick a Peach." ;o)