March 3, 2010

Doing Right by Accident

Proof of Happy Accidents

Most accidents don't end happily...which is why we call them accidents. Take these two accident scenarios, for example:

Example 1: You accidentally send your boyfriend an email that was meant for your lover: "Please don't let Steve, your brother and best friend and godfather of your three children, know that you and I are madly in love. Even though I can no longer stand Steve and his ridiculous addiction to Kim Kardashian, he is rich, and that I can stand. After I marry Steve next week, I can empty our then-joint bank account and finally run away with you. I love you." There's a good chance Steve will not see a silver lining on this particular cloud.

Example 2: You accidentally forget (and by "forget" I mean "are too drunk to remember") to feed your sister's cat (the cat she lovingly refers to as her "soulmate") while she's away on a three-week vacation. She returns from the jungles of Cambodia to find that Frederick, her loving feline, is no longer a part of this world. No matter how many times you say, "I'm sorry, it was an accident"--even if tears of holy-Virgin blood pour from your eyes--this is not an accident your sister would soon recall with joyful sentiment.

It's accidents like the ones above that give accidents a bad name. Sometimes the rancid flavor of such accidents can linger on our tongue for weeks, years, or even eternity. (Yes, Steve may still refuse to forgive you even in the afterlife.)

The accident I made a few days ago, however, left a much less rancid taste in my mouth. In fact, the taste was pretty damn cosmic, in a blackberries-and-cream sort of way.

Blackberries, Cinammon, and Sugar Awaiting Transformation

You see, I had plans to make a clafoutis. (Just so you know, "clafoutis" is a fancy-sounding French word that means "to fill up.") Basically, a clafoutis is a custard-like thingy that you "fill up" with fruit, usually fresh cherries, before baking. (Just so you know, "thingy" is not a fancy-sounding French word.)

Anyhow, after baking my berries, prepping the creamy batter, and whipping up the meringue, I realized that my 8x8 baking dish had gone missing. Not really wanting to mess with ramekins, I instead opted to break out the 8x13 baking dish. It looked like I had enough berries & batter to fill 'er up; plus, I figured that by using a larger dish, I could reduce the baking time and, hence, enjoy my clafoutis even sooner! "Good save," I thought to myself, not knowing that an accident was lurking underneath all that positivity.

These maneuvers did, ultimately, lead me into Accident Territory. The clafoutis didn't puff to its normal 3-4 inch potential; instead, it was as thin as a crepe (which is a fancy-sounding French word that means "curled"). ("Curled" is an English word that sounds fancy enough to be French.)

Don't let this "accident scenario" fool you into thinking the resulting dessert was poor, however. In fact, despite this recipe's lack of flour and butter, this accidental crepe was the most cumulus-like crepe I've ever clafoutied my mouth with! (Get it? Clafoutied? When will this fun French wordplay ever end? "Hopefully soon," you say? Lame answer.)

If you're hankering for a airy, marshmallowy, gluten-free crepe that turns purple overnight with the summer-infused blood of blackberries, then this is the recipe for you! I jazzed the batter up with a little jasmine extract, which you can find at most Asian markets. In place of the jasmine, you could just as well add a teeny bit of almond extract. Both extracts go a long, long way, so be very conservative with your dose.

This dessert stands as proof that our contemporary understanding of "accident" is antiquated. Give this word new life in your own kitchens by making accidents of delicious consequence!

What happy accidents have you created in your own kitchens?

Accidental Blackberry Clafoutis Crepe
(inspired by the Alice Waters recipe for Cherry Clafoutis in the Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook)
-1 lb. blackberries (I used pre-packaged frozen berries, and they tasted GREAT!)
-juice and rind of 1 lemon
-a sprinkling of cinnamon
-1/4 c. sugar
-2 eggs, separated
-5 tbs. sugar
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
-1/4 tsp. jasmine extract
-1/3 c. heavy cream
-1/8 tsp. salt
1. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease an 8x13 baking dish with olive oil. Arrange the blackberries on the botton of the baking dish. Sprinkle them evenly with the juice, rind, cinnamon, and sugar. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
2. While the berries are baking, beat the egg yolks and sugar in a medium sized bowl until well blended. Whisk in the vanilla, jasmine, and cream.
3. When the berries have softened a bit and are beginning to release their juices, take them out of the oven. Drain the juice into a container, and set aside. Once again, spread the berries out on the bottom of the baking dish, and set aside. Increase the heat to 375.
4. In another medium sized bowl, beat the egg whites with the salt until soft peaks form. Fold the meringue into the cream-and-sugar batter very delicately. Stir slightly until blended. Pour this batter evenly over the berries, and bake for about 15 minutes. Check on this dessert every 5 minutes or so; when the top has browned, it is finished.
5. Allow to cool 5 minutes or so, and then dig in! The juicy blackberry cinnamon syrup that you set aside earlier can be used as a sauce. Pour sauce over the clafoutis crepe right before serving. This desserts holds up really nicely overnight if you refigerate it. I ate it chilled for breakfast the next morning. It peels off the bottom of the baking dish with much ease, just like a crepe.


Jada Ach said...

I'm so tired of formatting issues with Blogger! I tried and tried to create spaces between the chunks of information in the recipe section of this post, but none of my changes would take. Do any of you who use Blogger have any suggestions?

molly said...

Heh heh! Had me laughing the whole way through.

Hadley Gets Crafty said...

Dude. Yummers!

And yes, sometimes Blogger is possessed. I don't know what to tell you.

Jada Ach said...

Thanks, Molly! I really adore your blog.

Hadley: Gosh, I know. Sometimes I feel like the spirit of some ancient, disgruntled blogger f**ks with my html coding for kicks.