Saturday, 7 December 2013

Plum and Spiced Marzipan Clafoutis

Prepare yourself for Christmas with this delicious twist on a classic summer fruit dessert.

Plum and Spiced Marzipan Clafoutis

Just a day before December hit, so did my feelings that Christmas was looming just around the corner. Please, someone, find me a shell I can hide in it until it's all over! The perpetrator of such feelings was a trip to the Christmas market in Nottingham with a couple of friends... on a Saturday! To all the Americans out there, I have now discovered the existence of 'Black Friday', regrettably a bit too late. For all the Brits who find themself  perplexed as to the meaning of 'Black Friday' and why such a dark secret has been kept from us, allow me to clarify. Black Friday is essentially the beginning of the Christmas shopping period, a.k.a. death. It serves as a warning for those with more sense than money to never set foot in the high street during the busiest shopping day of the year. I'm grimacing just writing about it.

This year the 29th November was designated with the 'Black Friday' label, and drawing from my experiences of shopping in the UK, I believe the Saturday 30th November was the equivalent . If only we had known earlier! If only someone had warned us of the chaos we were stepping into! Blissfully oblivious, we ventured into the city centre, unaware of the swarm of shoppers which would soon greet us. Endless crowds and congestion, queues in shops stretching miles (allow me some artistic flair), delicious smelling but insanely overpriced food stalls. Not to mention the fact that it is ridiculously difficult to sift through the hundreds of gimmikey books and gadgets to find something a loved one would acutally want!

Plum and Spiced Marzipan Clafoutis
My thoughts on shopping bring me back a thanksgiving dinner I went to last week, at a friend's house. Early into the evening, she warned us that at some point we would take turns to say what we were thankful for. An immediate fear struck in my heart, and for a second I hated her for not telling me in advance. For a generally boisterous lot, this was a mentally challenging excercise. How were a loud and lighthearted group of friends to engage in sentimental reflection? Sentimentality doesn't come easily to the English, and most definitely not to me (or at least that's what I like people to think!) We racked our brains for something which we were truly thankful for (aside from the usual family, friends, etc.), but which didn't give off a soppiness of, frankly, American standards.
Plums and Marzipan

A week later, and now bitterly ashamed at my profound ability to overlook all my blessings, I have come up with three things. Firstly, I am thankful that the merriment that evening continued to a point where we all forgot about the 'Thanksgiving' part of the dinner. Secondly, and on an entirely separate note, I am thankful that with the rise in online stores,  I shall henceforth never have to brave high-street during the Christmas period. Thirdly and finally, I am thankful that Black Saturday signifies much more than shopping. It gives me permission to create a seasonal playlist, and to come up with a seasonal dish!

Call me a pessimist, but I've always felt the excitement in the build-up to Christmas far exceeds the actual day itself. And I know I'm not alone (Royal Family Christmas Specials come to mind). Well, whatever your opinion, the warm flavours of this dessert and relative ease make it great for both occasions; the run-up or main event.

Plum and Spiced Marzipan Clafoutis
Plums and Marzipan
I first tried clafoutis in France last summer. I had always wanted to try it, but my reservation was that  it would have the texture and taste of a dense, thick raw pancake (the non-fruit element is referred to as a thin, pancake-like batter). Pictures of the dessert added to this impression, while some recipes include so much flour and baking soda that the result is more of a fruit sponge than a wobbly baked custard. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was more like a crème brulée, without the brulée.

I'm also not a huge fan of baked fruit, as I find it usually becomes sour. Don't ask me the science of it all, but somehow this clafoutis recipe avoids that sharp fruit taste. Perhaps the sweet almond marzipan stuffed into the cavities of the plums helps.

Either way, I think the spiced marzipan transforms the flavour profile of this dessert. To add a bit more Christmas cheer, I searched for some spices to compliment the plum flavour, and came across a great page from Nouveau Raw detailing flavour profiles/ flavour matches for many different fruits and nuts. I often go overboard with spices, so I decided to tone it down and focus on just two: black pepper and cinnamon. And a beautiful pairing it is! Originally I was skeptical about using even a quarter of a teaspoon of black pepper, but after tasting decided to up the ante and increase this to half a teaspoon. I promise it is not at all overpowering!

Plum and Spiced Marzipan ClafoutisThis dessert is best served warm (it also tastes great at room temperature). Although the batter is firm, the fruit gives off a bit of juice, but this is re-absorbed if you allow it to sit for a while. Eat as it is or top with a bit of whipped cream or custard and off you go!

Looking for more Christmas recipes? Perhaps my tipsy chai sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce tickles your fancy. Or impress the party with a chocolate orange bombe alaska with whisky-marmalade icecream and dark chocolate sauce. and as a tipple to wash it down, a fruity glass of passionfruit or cranberry and ginger sangria.

What are your family traditions for Christmas dinner? Is there a dish you'd like me to reinvent? Stuck with how to use up Christmas leftovers? Special diets you'll need cater for during the festive season? Let me know, I'm here to help!

Plum and Marzipan Clafoutis

Plum and Spiced Marzipan Clafoutis

Serves 8

600g ripe plums (around 8 plums)
200g marzipan
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
100g caster sugar
50g butter, plus extra for greasing
70g plain flour
3 whole eggs, beaten
500ml whole milk
1tbsp extra sugar, demerara or caster
Icing sugar or demerara sugar for dusting (optional)

1. Halve the plums and remove the stones and set aside. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Grease a baking dish just wide enough to hold the plums in one layer, and add a tablespoon of demerara or caster sugar. Spin and tap the dish so the sugar coats the inside.

3. Sprinkle cinnamon and black pepper onto marzipan. Using your hands or a masher, massage the spices into the marzipan until incorporated evenly. Push small bits of this mixture into the cavities and over the cut side of the plums. Arrange the plums over the dish, flat side down.

4. Sift flour into a medium-sized bowl, add a pinch of salt and the sugar. Whisk in eggs, followed by the milk and butter. Whisk until batter is smooth.

5. Pour the batter over the fruit and bake for 30-40 minutes, until just set. Allow the clafoutis to sit for 20 minutes. Dust with icing sugar, or sprinkle with demerara sugar. Serve with whipped cream or custard.



  1. Thanks for this recipe, Becky. Marzipan and plums sounds strange, but will give it a go. I didn't know what "Black Friday" was either!

    1. Thankyou. Yeh, the term hasn't really taken off in the UK, but this year it seems some retailers have been following suit and are offerning mahousive discounts, which is great but ahhhh the havoc!

  2. Clafoutis looking perfect.
    Would definitelt try and let you know how it turned.
    Thank you for linking it to my event.

    1. Yes Shey! Absolutely keep me updated on how it goes :D

  3. The clafoutis combination sounds divine. Just like you, I have shied away from clafoutis for a long time as the last one I made was more akin to a soggy yorkshire pudding with plums scattered in. This one looks perfect.
    Cheers Yvonne

    1. Thanks Yvonne. Admittedly, this is quite saucy at the bottom when it first comes out, but as I've said in the recipe, leave it to sit for a while and soak up the juices :D


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