2 pounds fresh cherries, rinsed, stemmed, and pitted
1 tablespoon kirsch (cherry eau-de-vie)
2 tablespoons sugar
The Almond Cream:
1 cup finely ground almonds
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup confectioners' sugar
Several drops of kirsch (optional)
Several drops of almond extract
Confectioners' sugar for dusting the gratin
10 1/2-inch round porcelain baking dish
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Butter the baking dish. Set it aside.
3. In a large, heavy skillet, combine the cherries, kirsch, and sugar. Cook over low heat, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes. Transfer the cherries to the prepared baking dish and set aside.
4. Prepare the almond cream: in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the whisk, combine the almonds and butter. Whisk, blending until smooth. Add the eggs, cream, and confectioners' sugar and whisk until thick, smooth, and well blended. Add the kirsch, if using, and the almond extract, mixing to blend. Pour the cream over the cherries in the baking dish.
5. Place the baking dish in the center of the oven and bake until the gratin is firm and deep golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and cool
6. Dust the gratin lightly with confectioners' sugar and serve in wedges, warm or at room temperature. This dessert is best served just a few hours after it is prepared.
From The Paris Cookbook by Patricia Wells (Harper Collins, 2001) - reprinted with permission
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