Snowy Milan and Chocolate Pear Clafoutis
There's been a Siberian cold front sweeping through Europe recently and it's been really cold, for Milan standards anyway. I have several friends who have been whining about the cold weather:
_ quote: "I wanna get my tits outttttt!" 😂 (she was joking of course, but I feel you girl!)
Secretly I've actually been enjoying it. True - I have so many layers on (5 years in the northern hemisphere, this Aussie is still learning how to dress for the winter), and I feel like that fat Michelin tyre man sometimes, and it's not a very sexy feeling. Or Joey.
I really dig the snow but. A lot.
There is something about the cool air that brushes my face, combined with the snow, that really brings back some of my childhood memories of when I was growing up in Korea.
I remember small things like the sight of the snow-covered rose hedges that used to climb the fences of the apartment complex we lived in.
Or mum picking out new manga illustrated high top sneakers for us and the main criteria was whether they were snow-worthy or not (they weren't - I remember the struggle to walk up the ramp to the first floor of the apartment and slipping straight away, ruining my matching manga knee-patchwork jeans).
I also remember my frozen hair-icicles because I used to leave the house with my hair still wet.
(When I spoke about this last particular point, 🐸 mentioned that he used to do this - leaving the house with wet hair - on purpose, in order to get sick and skip school. But then, they would never freeze. In the south of Italy the winters are always very mild.)
I hadn't seen snow for five years in Milan, so you can imagine my excitement waking up to a snow covered world. And yeh, in case you are wondering, it doesn't snow in Sydney.
I took photos, as you can see. Walked around the block and ruined my suede knee-high boots. Felt like my toes in my Italian cashmere socks were about to fall off from the cold.
But it's all good. The cold evoked memories I didn't even know I had, and that feels nice. (By the way, apparently it's true: nostalgia makes you warm, and the cold makes you nostalgic.)
This happy corgi would be me if I were a dog.
Of course I baked, the snow was just an irresistible backdrop for a nice warm bake-up.
And when you are the girlfriend of a DJ who inevitably has late nights on the weekend, you know how much he appreciates waking up to the sweet scent of something being baked. It's that or you have a late night as well, and wake up together nursing hangovers and figuring out which Deliveroo/Just Eat/Uber Eats/Food Ora joint to ring up.
Since I had spent a few hours just staring out the window, thinking about fuzzy childhood things and walking around my canal neighbourhood, I needed something easy.
Clafoutis fit the bill perfectly.
In case you haven't heard, clafoutis is a French breakfast concoction that's something of a cross between a pancake and custard. There are three eggs for just a 1/3 cup of flour, and a cup of milk makes for a very liquid batter.
Everything comes together in a snap - you simply mix everything together in a big bowl, and pour it over any kind of fruit, and place it in the oven. You can just bake it and add the fresh fruit later as well. Berries over chocolate clafoutis is a classic. Or add a pinch of cinnamon instead of the cacao and add apples. It's versatile as much as you want it to be.
I had pears in the fridge, left over from these pear, ginger, walnut muffins I made last week (and you should definitely try that Food52 recipe!). I have learnt over the years in Italy about the wonderful flavour combination of 🍐🍐🍐+🍫🍫🍫, so here it is, clafoutis with cacao and pears.
Oh and you must add bits of chocolate if you have some. I had started getting my ingredients together when I realised that there was no chocolate in the house (I must have eaten it all up when I had my period last. That's normal, right?) If you decide to, take about a 100 g of dark chocolate, chop, and add to the batter in the end before pouring over the fruit.
Without it, it still comes out beautiful - it's a fluffy whiff of custardy cacao that contrasts with the yielding texture of the cooked pears. Breakfast that feels right.
It's so easy and you don't have to know anything about baking things like cakes to make it.
Give it a go. You're just a few whisks away from having the most delightful wake-up call.
Love you all and please stay warm,
CACAO AND PEAR CLAFOUTIS
240 ml milk
100 g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
40 g plain flour (00 flour in Italy)
2 tbs unsweetened cocoa, sifted
pinch of salt
2 pears, cored, sliced thin or into wedges
Set the oven to 180 C.
In a large bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredients. Add the flour, cocoa, salt and whisk to combine.
Place your pears in your ovenproof vessel. I used a 25cm non-stick ovenproof pan, for lack of one of those beautiful and more photogenic enamel Le Creusets or Staubs or cast iron pan, but if you do, then go ahead and butter it up.
Pour the batter evenly all over and bake in your preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, or until the custard has set.
Serve with a dollop of cream or vanilla gelato - you know you want it.