It was an emotional trip to Whole Foods last night for my weekly groceries. Out of old habits, my attention was involuntarily drawn to all things cherries. It didn’t help that cherry season is kicking off and there was a huge display of glistening red orbs. For the last three years, I had been keeping my eyes out for interesting and tasty cherry treats and stocked my pantry with dried sour cherries because that was ex-boyfriend’s favourite food. My freezer was never without a precious stash of hand-pitted sour cherries so I could bake the ultimate treat, a flakey juicy cherry lattice pie.
All the cherry chocolate, cherry granola, cherry cookie, cherry juice that I laid eyes on last night only taunted me of hurt. While my heart was never far away from searching out things that he would enjoy, the relationship already slipped away from my grasp long ago. I don’t want to be eaten by resentment but I can’t help feeling like a complete idiot all along. If this is part of the natural progression of grieving, I hope it’ll be over soon. For lack of more eloquent description, it sure sucks big time right now.
I am not a fan of this woe-is-me mentality and I believe that surrounding myself with beauty is my path to healing. You can’t argue with the beauty of fruit harvest at the height of their seasonal best, can’t you? So despite a sad trip at the grocery store, I picked up some gorgeous Bing cherries to make Cherry Clafoutis.
Custard dessert has a special place in my kitchen. It is one of the few dessert I would bake for myself. Most of my baking creations are shared among friends and I don’t even miss them. Cherry clafoutis is an exception. I would happily eat a whole dish if it isn’t for concern to keep my girlish figure.
There’s an age old question for this traditional French dessert of whole cherries baked in custard. To pit or not to pit? Some insist that the pits add an extra layer of flavour but I prefer the elegance of not spitting out pits from every bite. And this is where a brilliant idea struck. I decided to fill the cavities of all the pitted cherries with marzipan. It was tedious work but given my current condition to lay off on all optional cognitive activities, it was exactly the kind of repetitive task I needed to kill time.
Almond and cherry are natural partners. The cherries remain plump even after the long baking time in the custard. The surprise of biting into a juicy cherry to discover that extra little sweetness of marzipan is one of my more inspired ideas. I can imagine adding these filled cherries to pound cake or muffins. I followed Dorie Greenspan’s recipe for Cherry Clafoutis in Around My French Table. An online version of the recipe is available here.
I know it will take some time before the very sight of cherries cease throwing me into a sentimental tailspin. After all, old habits are not easy to break. As for my precious stash of frozen sour cherries and dried cherries? I intend to replenish when the time comes. I hold the key to my enjoyment of life and I appreciate the beauty of cherries on their own merit. Good things will eventually come to those who embrace the joy of living.