brown butter apple clafoutis

Good things happened yesterday and less good things happened as well.

The good things were delivering hot sauce to friends, walks in the "country", reading on a bench in the sun ... and making this dessert (and eating it for dinner). The less good things? I think my allergies are back. My throat is itchy, so I'm not sleeping well, so I'm not interested in running in the morning, so I'm less enthusiastic about the day. It's all a chain reaction thanks to nature and the changing seasons.

But guys, this is really about making a BROWN BUTTER apple clafoutis. Just like galettes, I have no idea how to say clafoutis but I think I really like them. I did a bit of research on them in advance because I was like clafoutis sounds like a disease that can be passed around and not a french dessert - which it actually is.

The essence of a clafoutis is essentially a custard / flan like baked pie style dish... with fruit... that is served warm. Also, it's not hyper photogenic - or at least mine isn't... but it's also delicious and I'm going to eat it for dinner and dessert and probably breakfast for the next several days. I didn't eat mine with ice cream, but I think that would probably be a great touch. Think of it like a bread pudding ... maybe.

I did a few different things with my version than many other clafoutis recipes called for which in turn led it to being gluten free and delicious.
(1) almond flour. You could get by which regular flour - but almond flour gives it this amazing texture that you just don't get with other types. I had the almond flour on hand from when I attempted (and succeeded) at french macarons. It is more expensive than like all of the other types of flours I've ever bought ... but I believe it to be worth it for this little gem. For the record, I have the following types of flour in my cabinet: bread, white, whole wheat, double zero, rice, almond, and gluten free. That's seven.
(2) apple cider. The original inspiration recipe on Food52 called for apple juice (un-sweetened as well). I hate apple juice. It gives me a headache. I like many other things "apple" but not juice. I had resigned myself to getting the juice because I really wanted to try this recipe but CVS felt too far and the corner store only had a large bottle for $5. THEN, a little fairy delivered some apple cider (and coordinating donuts) to me... and my problems were solved. I did a little research on the differences between cider and juice and then decided I didn't care. Cider wins.
(3) juice on top. If you google "clafoutis", you can see that some are actually rather photogenic and cute. I had seen a posting that suggested keeping the juices post apple cooking for post bake drizzle - it felt like a good idea so I did it ... But I think it altered the visual integrity of the clafoutis. So if appearance is important to you, don't drizzle the juice.
(4) vanilla bean v extract. I've cooked a whole bunch but never seen so many versions of one style dish all call for the same thing. Vanilla bean. If I had planned more about this experiment, I would have made an attempt to get to Polcari's for some vanilla bean.... but obviously I didn't. Convenience stores (even in the North End) don't carry vanilla bean and if they didn't I wasn't paying for it. I did a smidge of research on the conversion between the two. I'm sure I should try this recipe again with some actual vanilla bean... but for those that plan as well as I do... you'll be fine with just extract.

Anyway. That's enough explanation. Here's how it goes.

(Step 1) Heat oven to 400 F. Butter a 10-inch deep-dish pie pan.
(Step 2) In a large pan, cook the butter over medium-high heat until the milk solids start to brown, about 3 minutes.

(Step 3) Add the sliced apples, 3 tablespoons sugar, vanilla extract, and a tablespoon of the apple cider. Cook the apples over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 8 minutes or until the apples are soft but not mushy. Set aside. Note: I think I sliced my apples a bit too thin and thus some got mushy. Also, apples in brown butter? Heaven sent. 

(Step 4) In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, almond flour, cinnamon, corn starch, and salt until smooth. One posting I had read for a clafoutis suggested mixing these ingredients in a blender. I'm reluctant to add unnecessary dishes to my pile - so I stuck with a regular mixing bowl.
(Step 5) Add the coconut milk and 1/2 cup of apple cider, and whisk to combine. I had never cooked with coconut milk before and was surprised when I opened the can to see a solid top. Thankfully I was on the phone with Meghan at the time who assured me this was totally normal and to proceed with gusto.

(Step 6) Pour the custard into the buttered baking dish. Top with the cooked apples but reserve the juices (or not). I had seen a posting that suggested keeping the juices for post bake drizzle - it felt like a good idea but if you want to just be done with it.... toss the juices in there. I'm all about giving you the options.

(Step 7) Bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes.
Shopping List
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon apple cider
1/4 stick butter, plus more for lining pie dish
4 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons natural cane sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
1/3 cup almond flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups unsweetened coconut milk

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