Volcanic Apples

These apples are hollowed to the shape of a volcano so they take more stuffing, hence their name in our family. For the filling, I’m calling for muesli as it is so easy to find, but you’ll save a bit of time if you use granola, which is already toasted.  Simply mix it with the

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French Pear Batter Pudding

You’ll find this batter pudding throughout France under names such as ‘clafoutis’ and ‘flognarde’, adapted to local fruit alcohols and fruits including cherries, apples, plums, and prunes (in the winter). ‘Flognarde’ comes from the Auvergneand and may be made with pears or apples.

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Chocolate Cherries

Chocolate cherries can’t be kept for more than a day, but they are so tempting there’s little chance they will last that long! You can serve them after dinner or use them to decorate cakes and desserts.

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Cherry Almond Tart

This great summer dessert is a great way to take advantage of all the cherries at the market. Try mixing some blueberries in with the cherries for a 4th of July treat! Don’t be dismayed by the long list of ingredients here as most of them will be in your cupboard. And much of the work is taken away if you have an electric mixer or processor.

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Cherry Batter Pudding (Clafoutis Limousin)

Clafoutis comes from the Limousin, a flat agricultural area in the center of France, but versions of this simple pudding can be found all over—in the Auvergne for example it is known as millard, or flognarde when made with pears. Clafoutis is suited to tart fruits such as apples, plums, and most famously cherries. If you follow tradition like me and leave the pits in to add a hint of bitterness, be sure to warn guests before they crack a tooth!

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Melon Sorbet (Sorbet de Melon)

Say melon to a Frenchman and he pictures only one variety—the round Charentais with its pale green skin and juicy, brilliant orange flesh. Beside its intense fragrance, all other melons tend to pale into obscurity, though a cantaloupe can be substituted. An ultra-ripe, fragrant melon is essential for sorbet, as chilling blankets the taste. To highlight the fruitiness, I like to add an equally fragrant sweet wine such as a Muscat de Frontignan from the shores of the Mediterranean, but port is good too.

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Walnut and Caramel Cake (Gâteau Périgourdin)

Walnut trees do well in the thin, stony soil of Périgord, leading to walnut pastries and cakes including this moist, rich gâteau with a topping of crisp caramel. Like most nut cakes, the Gâteau improves when kept a day or two in an airtight container, but the topping should be added only a short time before serving as caramel softens after a few hours in the open air.

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Upsidedown Caramelized Apple Tart (Tarte des Demoiselles Tatin)

In the mid-19th century, the story goes, the demoiselles Tatin were left penniless when their father died. Luckily they lived just opposite the new railroad station at Lamotte Beuvron, a small town south of Orléans. So they took in travelers and baked the crusty dark apple tart their father had loved so much. Fortune smiled; the Hotel Tatin is there to this day, still serving a remarkable tart topped with chunks of slightly singed caramelized apple baked in a wood fired oven.

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Molded Fresh Cream Cheese (Coeur à la Crème)

The perfect dessert on a hot summer day, Coeur or crémets is made of whipped crème fraîche lightened with egg white meringue, then left to drain in cheesecloth. Often the mixture, in effect a fresh cream cheese, is molded in a heart shape (coeur). In the Loire Valley where this dessert is most popular, you’ll find porcelain molds, pierced with holes for drainage, in several sizes. An inexpensive alternative is to poke holes in a metal cake pan, heart-shaped or a simple round. To provide a sweet, even fluffier contrast, the mold is traditionally served with Chantilly Cream and, most important of all, fresh red berries arranged in a necklace around the heart.

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Lemon Tart (Tarte au Citron)

The hot Mediterranean climate of Provence is more favorable to savory dishes and breads than to the egg and cream-based desserts found in the north. Notable exceptions include the amazing array of candied fruits in pâtisseries and specialty stores, the nougat of Montélimar, sweet fritters such as Bugnes that stand up well to the heat,

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