Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Grape Flaugnarde (Flan)

Grape Flaugnarde (Flan) in Baking Dish, Overhead View

An Elegant (But Light and Easy) French Dessert That’s Perfect for Entertaining

Grape flaugnarde is a pie-shaped French dessert that’s nothing more than grapes covered with a flavorful custard, and baked until it achieves a flan-like consistency. (Some people might call this dessert a clafoutis, though that’s technically incorrect, as we discuss below.)

Outside of fancy restaurants, most people in the US would probably just call this a flan because it looks and tastes like, well, flan. With grapes baked into it.

Whatever you call it, this is a great dessert to serve with an elaborate meal — the type of festive fare you might make for company. After a rich dinner, the last thing I want is a heavy dessert. Which is why this dish fits in so perfectly:  It’s fairly light, and not overly sweet.

Although not a heavy dish, it packs tremendous flavor into each slice. And it’s so good that your guests might forget about that big meal they’ve just had, and request a second slice of flaugnarde.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.



Grape Flaugnarde (Flan) on Plate

Recipe:  Grape Flaugnarde (Flan)

Grapes are usually abundant and inexpensive in the fall, so this is a great dessert to make right now (at least if you’re in the northern hemisphere).  It’s best when baked in an attractive 10- or 11-inch shallow tart dish, especially the porcelain or earthenware types that look so pretty on the dinner table.  But it will work in an ordinary pie pan, too.

I first saw this recipe years ago in Paula Wolfert’s World of Food (see Notes). I showed it to Mrs. Kitchen Riffs, and she’s been baking it ever since (she does most of the dessert baking in the household). This recipe is her (slight) adaption of Wolfert’s dish.

This recipe takes about 15 minutes active preparation time, and about 45 minutes baking time. Depending on how generously you slice the flan, you’ll get 6 to 10 servings from this; we usually figure on 8. Well-wrapped leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for a few days.

Ingredients
  • ~1 tablespoon butter (for buttering baking dish)
  • 4 - 5 cups red and/or green seedless grapes (about 2 pounds; see Notes)
  • 2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy (optional but awfully tasty; do try to include this)
  • 1¼ cups milk
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons table (granulated) sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract (or to taste)
  • powdered confectioner’s sugar to garnish (optional but attractive and tasty)
Procedure
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, and place oven rack in the middle position.  Butter 10- or 11-inch baking dish.
  2. Stem, wash, and dry the grapes.
  3. Heat the cognac in a small saucepan over low heat, allowing it to reduce to one-half its volume.  Watch while you do this — it doesn’t take long, and if left unattended the cognac can reduce to almost nothing in a flash.
  4. Add the milk to the cognac.  Heat on low briefly until the mixture is lukewarm, and set aside.
  5. Whisk flour, sugar, and salt together in a medium-sized mixing bowl.  Add eggs, stirring them into the flour mixture with a wooden or plastic spoon until evenly mixed and creamy.
  6. Drizzle the milk and cognac mixture into the flour mixture, stirring all the while.  Add the lemon extract and stir until the mixture is smooth, with no lumps.
  7. Pour the grapes into the buttered baking dish and spread them in an even layer (if they don’t all quite fit into one layer, no worries; they’ll bake down).  Pour the batter over the grapes.
  8. Bake on the middle rack of oven until done — the flan will puff up and turn golden brown around the edges.  This usually takes about 45 minutes, but start checking at about 40 minutes in case your oven bakes fast.
  9. You can serve the flaugnarde hot out of the oven, or allow it to cool to room temperature (our preference).  Right before serving, dust with powdered sugar.
Grape Flaugnarde (Flan) on Plate

Notes
  • Technically, a clafoutis is made with black cherries.  When made with other fruits, this dessert is called a flaugnarde.  In addition to grapes, popular fruit choices include apples, berries, peaches, pears, and plums. 
  • We like to use a combination of red and green grapes, simply because we like the colors.  But you can use any type of grapes (or other fruit) that you want.
  • We usually stuff as many grapes as we can into the baking dish when we make this recipe.  For our shallow 11-inch dish, that means about 5 cups.  But if your baking dish has room for only 4 or 4½ cups, the dessert will still turn out fine.
  • You can skip the cognac, but it really adds a great deal of flavor.  And the alcohol vaporizes as you reduce it.  Cognac (French brandy) can be quite pricy.  For this recipe, you certainly don’t need the top-shelf stuff.  A good VSOP (very superior old pale) that's around $12 should work.  We like (and use) both St. Remy and Raynal for cocktails, so that’s what gets used in this dish.  Salignac is also a great brand, but a little more expensive.  You could also try one of the brands of American brandy.
  • Paula Wolfert is one of my favorite cookbook authors, and I have every book she has written.  She’s best known for doing a deep dive into the traditional cuisine of a country or region (usually centered around the Mediterranean).  I greatly enjoy — and cook from — all Wolfert’s books, but World of Food is my favorite because it seems to be the most “personal” of her cookbooks — that is, it seems to best reflect the type of cooking that she does every day at home.
Grape Flaugnarde (Flan) on Plate

Everything You Need for Entertaining

Many of us like to develop a list of favorite recipes that can serve as trusted standbys when company comes calling.  Here at Kitchen Riffs, we’ve shared several dishes the past several weeks (and months!) that we think work particularly well for entertaining.

For a first course, I suggest Chopped Kale Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing. It has big flavor and takes advantage of the terrific taste that kale delivers after it’s been kissed by frost. Also appropriate would be Spinach Salad with Parmesan. Or if you want a classic first-course soup, it’s hard to beat Leek and Potato Soup.  To accompany any of these you might want to bake some Easy No-Knead Bread into a nice round boule.

For the main course, you might like either Boeuf Bourguignon or Roast Chicken. We roast chickens using the high-heat method, which produces a perfectly cooked bird in less time. If you prefer a seafood main course, I would suggest Scallops on Artichoke Scoops. It’s a sensational dish that’s quite easy to prepare.

If you’re entertaining vegetarian friends, I’d recommend two vegan main-course dishes: Vegan Mapo Tofu or Red-Braised Beans and Sweet Potatoes. You won’t miss meat when you serve either of these dishes. And both are meals in themselves — no sides needed.

Most meat courses do require something else to fill out the plate, however, so let me suggest some side dishes. Last week we discussed Roast Potatoes. These are a classic, and go particularly well with Roast Chicken or Roast Pork. But any roast vegetable works well at this time of the year, including Roast Sweet Potatoes, Roast Cauliflower, Roast Asparagus, Roast Eggplant, or even Roast Belgian Endive. The possibilities are endless.

For dessert, I highly recommend the terrific Grape Flaugnarde (Flan) we discuss in this post. But if you want something with a bit more “wow” factor, it’s hard to beat Homemade Meringues with Strawberry Sauce or Zabaglione.

Oh, and we mustn’t forget your pre-dinner drink. Great choices would be the Classic Champagne Cocktail or (especially in chilly weather) the Sidecar

Or how about a topical tipple? In the US, we have a big election coming up next week. So the perfect drink would feature a political connection. That’s why the subject of our next post will be the Ward 8 cocktail. You can drink it to celebrate if your candidate wins — or to console yourself if he loses.

You may also enjoy reading about:
Walnut Apple Crisp
Peanut Butter Cookies
Ultimate Chocolate Brownie
Easy Peach Cobbler
Bread Pudding
Chocolate Drop Cookies
Zabaglione
Root Beer Floats
Cherry Winks Cookies
Pfeffernusse Cookies
Homemade Meringues
Homemade Grenadine
Strawberry Sauce

71 comments:

  1. I haven't thought of this for years. It's a gorgeous classic for sure, especially seasonal. Love the menu planning ideas. Hey, I have a dinner party early December, so if the menu looks familiar!

    Thanks for reminding me of this.
    Denise

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    1. Hi Denise, isn't this a great dessert? Pretty healthy, too. LOL re menu! Thanks for the comment.

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  2. I have never had this dish - it sounds so simple but interesting!

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    1. Hi Alyssa, definitely worth trying. Simple and understated, but really delicious. Thanks for the comment.

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  3. I like that you used red and green grapes...not only for color but I think that is usually a little difference in taste as well.

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    1. Hi Karen, you're right about the taste - the combination of the two is quite nice. Thanks for the comment.

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  4. I did not know that about clafoutis vs flaugnarde so thank you!! I don't think grapes show up enough in desserts, so thanks for some great inspiration.

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    1. Hi Katherine, we all know about clafoutis, but flaugnardes are a bit less common in the US (at least the name is). Thanks for the comment.

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  5. Elegant is right my friend, this looks as if it has come from a magazine :)

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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    1. Hi Uru, flattery will get you everything! Thanks for the comment.

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  6. Custard fruit tarts are high on my list of desserts. I love the colours of the two types of grape. Cognac would work well but I wonder how rum would taste instead.

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    1. Hi Suzanne, we haven't made this with rum, but I think an aged amber (or a dark rum) would be excellent! Thanks for the comment.

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  7. I have read recipes that include grapes, both sweet and savory treats. It is funny, I guess I never thought to cook with grapes. I for sure love them, so I guess it is time to enjoy some treats with the delicious fruit! Your flan looks so beautiful! Take care, Terra

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    1. Hi Terra, this is a great way to use grapes, and it'll be a new dessert to many people. Delicious and great looking too! Thanks for the comment.

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  8. the choce of two kind of grapes is so good, for colour and taste! Thank you John. Ciao Carina

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    1. Hi Carina, isn't this a nice looking dessert? The flavor is tremendous, too! Thanks for the comment.

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  9. I love, love, love the proposed dinner menu and this dessert--I find myself scrambling all the time the days before a home-hosted meal! I guess it's more in my taste to change things up to keep things exciting each time, but I love that making this grap flaugnarde flan would totally fit that bill. That leaves only one question--who gets to eat all of this delicious stuff coming out of your kitchen?! (Because I won't lie--I'd love to see the leftovers in mine!)

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    1. Hi Ala, we actually don't often serve the same thing twice, although I must say both the Boeuf Bourguignon and this terrific Grape Flaugnarde do appear on our table at least once a year (the flaugnarde often several times a year). And we have no problems consuming leftovers! ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  10. I've never made many desserts with grapes. This looks great! So full of flavour!

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    1. Hi Ali, it's high time you made a dessert with grapes! ;-) This really does have nice flavor - I bet you'd like it. Thanks for the comment.

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  11. This looks and sounds delicious, John, and I like the idea of cooking with grapes. It's that literal burst of flavor that they give a dish that I love. I've a bread and a cake recipe using them and now I'll add this one, too. Thanks.

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    1. Hi John, it's a wonderful recipe - and one most people haven't had. I'll have to take a look at your bread and cake recipe (assuming they're on your blog). Thanks for the comment.

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  12. All I can say is yum! I've never had this dessert but I'm very interested in giving it a try. Thanks for sharing:)

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    1. Hi Spicie Foodie, it's really worthy trying. Loads of flavor and not too sweet. Thanks for the comment.

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  13. I would have mistook it for clafoutis, either way I'd enjoy it. I love grapes in the fall. Plus it's cooled off enough to bake more frequently. Hope you and the Mrs. are having a great week.
    -Gina-

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    1. Hi Gina, it basically is a clafoutis, although technically a clafoutis is made with black cherries. That's why I often just call it flan. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  14. Thanks for the flaugnarde definition...I guess I've made one before and not a clafoutis :) I saw gorgeous grapes in the market today...but I rarely think of baking with them. I will now!!!

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    1. Hi Lizzy, it's odd that there aren't more grape recipes in baking, but it's true they're rather rare. Maybe because when baked their flavor is kinda subtle (though delish)? Who knows, but they're great in this recipe. Thanks for the comment.

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  15. Hooray for Mrs. Kitchen Riffs! Tell her she makes an awesome flaugnarde. Every single recipe you mentioned for company sounds great, but my heart stopped when I read about the meringues. Sigh.

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    1. Hi Beth, she certainly does make a mean flaugnarde! Thanks for the comment.

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  16. This is beautiful looking dessert. I always leave your blog a little smarter. I love how you explain your recipes. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Hi Dawn, thanks for the kind words, and for commenting.

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  17. Bobby and I are both very fond of flan, but I've never had one like this before. It is a great recipe for this time of year with all of the grapes available and only 15 minutes to prep!? Well, that's doable! We've been eating a lot of cookies lately, so this would be a great change. Great looking dessert!

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    1. Hi MJ, the grapes in this recipe are good, but the nice thing about it is you can pretty much use any fruit in it - easy to adapt. And we often make this recipe just because it isn't as sweet as cookies, etc. Thanks for the comment.

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  18. Fantastic! I never think to cook with grapes however as soon as I saw your photo I could imagine the flavors. So unique.

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    1. Hi Toni, grapes really aren't used enough in desserts. Except in dessert wine. ;-) Isn't this a nice dessert? Thanks for your comment.

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  19. I love desserts that incorporate fruit, and the grapes seem like they would go so well! Beautiful work :)

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    1. Hi Kristi, the grapes are really great in this - and this is a dessert most people don't see that often, so it's a bit unusual. Thanks for the kind words, and for commenting.

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  20. Marvelous! I rarely bake with grapes (forget to use them in cakes or other pastries)... This is a perfect fall dessert.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    1. Hi Rosa, it's easy to overlook grapes with baking, for some reason. But I agree that this is a great fall dessert. Thanks for the comment.

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  21. I would have never thought to bake with grapes but this so works. Heck why not, as grapes are just fruit before they are sweet raisins, right? Very delicate and a great make a head dish for company. Take care, BAM

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    1. Hi Bam, good point that grapes are the parent of raisins! And this is super when made ahead - I prefer it served at room temperature (although hot from the oven is good, too). Thanks for the comment.

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  22. Gorgeous dessert! I have yet to bake with grapes. A unique and interesting combination. I love the lemon zest in the batter and I am sure this will be welcome at any dessert table!

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    1. Hi Asmita, the lemon zest does indeed add a bit of, well, zest. ;-) It's a great dessert, and one well worth making. Thanks for the comment.

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  23. I totally agree with you, and you know I am detailed about name giving of dishes, that's a flaugnard and can't be a clafoutis, because clafoutis's include cherries. Wish I had grapes here, I d make it for sure. It has been a while. thanks for sharing John!

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    1. Hi Helene, I figured you'd know the correct name of this dish! It is interesting, though, that a clafoutis - which is essentially the same dish - must include cherries. I love how we decide how to name things! Thanks for the comment.

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  24. I've never used grapes in baking (although I don't bake often, but still never seen grapes in baked goods either... I think), and I'm so intrigued to try baking this! Looks so good, and my kids love grapes so much. They are just eating grapes as fruits...but I already know they will be excited if I make this. Thanks for the recipe and can't wait to try this holiday season!

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    1. Hi Nami, if your kids like grapes, they'll probably like this - plus it's not too sweet, so it's a reasonably healthy dessert. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  25. Okay every time I think you can't possibly top the previous recipe you prove me wrong again. I've only done these with cherries so I had no idea the name was different with other fruits. This is spectacular.

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    1. Hi Kim, the naming thing is a bit odd, but it is what it is. Great dish - really worth trying. Thanks for the kind words, and the comment.

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  26. I havent tried something like this before but I like flan so this will be on my to do list

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    1. Hi Raymund, if you like flan (and grapes!), this dish is for you. Really a nice dessert. Thanks for the comment.

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  27. I've never use grapes in baking, I guess it is time to explore something new. I love flan and I love desserts, it looks beautiful and I'm sure it tastes delicious.

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    1. Hi Haniela, grapes are quite good when baked. This dish has nice flavor and isn't too heavy - my idea of a great dessert. Thanks for the comment.

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  28. What a lovely, delicious looking and unique dessert!

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    1. Hi Chris, it's really a nice dessert, and not something that everyone has had. Best of all it's really delish! Thanks for the comment.

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  29. This looks awesome! Juicy plump grapes all snuggled in custard. Who wouldn't go crazy for that? ;)

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    1. Hi Carolyn, this is a dessert I think you'd like. Certainly it's one we like, a lot! It's also fun to serve company - not too sweet, and something a bit different. Thanks for your comment.

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  30. Cool! I've made clafouti-- or if you insist, flaugnarde, since I often use berries or pears instead of cherries-- for years. But I've never, ever considered using grapes! In fact I've never had baked grapes of any kind. Wondering if I can get bold enough to try this..... why not?

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    1. Hi Mary, it's a great dessert, isn't it? No matter what you call it! ;-) The grapes are really worth trying - I certainly enjoy them, and hope you will too. Thanks for the comment.

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  31. I don't normally make and re-post recipes I find from other blogs, but this one might be the exception. I am just drooling over this one, KR!! My parents are in town and I know they'd love this, too.

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    1. Hi Kristy, this really is a super recipe - you'll like it. And your parents too, of course! Thanks for the comment.

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    2. It's in the oven right now, KR!! So fast and easy to make. I reduced brandy b/c no cognac and not sure how many grapes I dumped in the baking dish but I know it's going to be DELISH!

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    3. My parents and I loved this. Just wonderful. I forgot to add that I didn't have lemon extract so I added the zest of one lemon. My mom is going to make this for her Christmas luncheon this year, too. Thanks for the great recipe!

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    4. Hi Kristy, gosh, I'm so glad you and your parents enjoyed this! I really enjoy the flavor of this - not too sweet, but definitely dessert. We often have used brandy (or even skipped it entirely) when we made this. And when Mrs K R runs out of lemon extract, zesting a lemon is exactly what she does, too. Thanks so much for letting me know you enjoyed this.

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  32. What a lovely dessert! I like how well it is packed with grapes. The local grapes in the fall are just the sweetest and the juiceiest around. Sad the season is coming to an end. Thanks for the explanation between a clafoutis and a flaugnarde. A flan might be easier for everyone. :)

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    1. Hi Biren, I always call this flan! You're right that it's the easiest way. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  33. Hi KR!
    Love the look of this flan! Baked a cherry clafoutis before; and I substituted grapes for plums before for a tart recipe and it tasted fab! So will definitely bake this flaugnarde soon once I get the grapes! Will tiny 'champagne' grapes work with green and red grapes?

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    1. Hi Emily, I'd think the tiny champagne grapes would work well. We've used all sorts of grapes in this, and have liked they all in this recipe. Thanks for the comment.

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  34. yummmmy, i never taste a grape fan recipe, but i have all the time in the world...:D

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    1. Hi Aurica, this is so worth trying! Thanks for the comment.

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