Local berries and fruits are starting to appear at the market, and that means only one thing—yummy summer desserts. Fresh strawberries require nothing to make them special except a little whipped cream or crême fraiche, though a friend recently delighted me by serving an intensely flavored yet unexpectedly light strawberry charlotte. I’ll definitely put that recipe into my rotation, along with crumbles, crisps, and galettes. My attention at the moment is on the short season for local cherries, and my very favorite way to prepare them—a clafoutis. Clafoutis is a French dessert that traditionally uses cherries baked in a batter. It originated in the Limousin, a province of south-central France, and the name comes from the word claufir, which means “to fill up” in the local dialect. It requires little preparation and results in a lot of flavor. It’s usually served warm. I’m including my recipe below, though there are dozens of variations on the web. Next up will be blackberry season, then peaches, and they are both perfect for a clafoutis. Technically, only the cherry version is supposed to be called a clafoutis; when other fruits are used, the dessert is called a flognarde. Whatever you choose to call it, it’s easy to make, impressive to look at, and always delicious.

  •  2 cups of cherries (sweet or tart), stemmed, pitted, and cut in half
  • 3 Tbs of brandy (optional)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • Butter to coat the pie dish

Soak the cherries in the brandy for a couple of hours then drain their liquid into the wet ingredients. Butter a pie dish (I use pyrex). Spread the cherries on the bottom of the pan. Mix together the flour, sugar, and salt. Whisk together the milk, eggs, and vanilla. Then whisk together all the ingredients and pour the batter over the cherries. Bake in a 350˚ oven for 35 to 40 minutes (it will puff up and get golden). Serve right away.