Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Little Cherry Clafouti: A Dessert Inspired by the VS Orient Express from Cleo Coyle

I have no doubt that a trip on the Orient Express is on plenty of bucket lists out there. It's certainly on mine. The original train, of course, is defunct, but the Venice Simplon-Orient Express (VSOE) is a beautiful re-creation, a rolling museum that uses gorgeously restored carriages from the original line, dating back to the 1920s and 30s. Running from London to Venice and to other destinations in Europe, the train also covers that historic route from Paris to Istanbul. To plan your real or virtual journey, click here and have fun! Or...

Take a video trip right now, by clicking
the arrow in the window below.

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you can watch it by
clicking here.


A Note from Cleo

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The first menu on board the original Orient Express (October 10, 1882) featured oysters, soup with Italian pasta, turbot with green sauce, "chicken à la chasseur," fillet of beef with "château potatoes," chaud-froid of game animals, lettuce, chocolate pudding, and a buffet of desserts.

Today's passengers enjoy European cuisine that is fresh and local with ingredients that are taken on board at stops along the route. "Look out the window," the VSOE line tells us, "and you may spot the chef inspecting lobsters from Brittany, tomatoes from Provence or saltmarsh lamb from Mont Saint-Michel...."

A few years ago, the train's executive chef (Christian Bodiguel) shared a version of this dessert recipe online. With cherry season upon us, I've slightly adapted it for today's post. This classic French dessert originated from the Limousin region of France. Chef Bodiguel described it as one of his favorites.

While the sweet cherries looked beautiful this week at our local grocery store, frozen cherries will also work for this dessert. See my note in the recipe on how to use them.  In the meantime, may you eat (and travel) with joy! 

~ Cleo



To download this recipe as a 
free PDF document that you 

can print, save, or share, 

Click for Free Recipe PDF.

Individual Cherry Clafouti 
with (or without) Kirsch

A recipe by the executive chef of the VS Orient Express, Christian Bodiguel. Slightly adapted for an American audience with photos by author Cleo Coyle


1 to 1-1/2 cups whole sweet cherries*
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
3 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon whole milk
4 teaspoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons kirsch*
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon + 1-1/2 teaspoons melted (and cooled) butter
1/3 cup powdered (aka confectioners' or icing) sugar
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

*Ingredient substitution notes. 

(1) CHERRIES: Fresh is best, but out of season, you can substitute frozen cherries. Place them in a colander, run hot tap water over them briefly and drain well before proceeding. 

(2) KIRSCH: Kirsch is a strong, clear, cherry brandy. If you don’t have kirsch on hand, substitute another brandy, or white rum. If you’d rather not use alcohol, substitute cherry juice.


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and generously butter four 4-ounce ramekins or other small oven-proof cups. De-stem the cherries and remove their pits. Roughly chop them. Divide the cherries into the four buttered ramekins or oven-proof serving bowls. 

In a mixing bowl, whisk up the egg, and egg yolks. Add the milk, cream, kirsch (or substitute), and vanilla, and whisk well. Whisk in the melted (and cooled) butter. Now whisk in the powdered sugar, making sure it's fully dissolved. Finally, whisk in the flour. The batter will be loose. 

Divide the batter up evenly among the four ramekins, pouring it as you see below...

Place the ramekins directly on the oven rack. Bake for about 30 minutes. 

Serve lukewarm with sweetened whipped cream, a scoop of ice cream, or even a dollop of cream cheese frosting, and...

Eat (and read) with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author
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  1. The Orient Express is on my bucket list! It would be such a thrill!
    Thank you for the recipe.

    1. Deb - I'm with you. A journey, even a short one, on the VS Orient Express would be a fabulous experience. I hope we both get the chance one day!

      ~ Cleo
      Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
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  2. David Suchet's trip on the Venice-Simpson Orient Express is one of my favorite videos and the kitchen scenes are especially interesting to me since I collect cookbooks. When I started reading your blog my first thought was that I need to research recipes for the meals served on the train! Thank you for your great mysteries and for the recipes.

    1. Linda - Oh, yes, agreed! The David Suchet video trip was a wonderful virtual ride on the famous train line. He does a fabulous job relating the history of the Orient Express and (of course!) showing its connection to the Agatha Christie novel. Thank you for reminding us, and dropping by the Kitchen today!

      ~ Cleo
      Coffeehouse Mystery.com
      “Where coffee and crime are always brewing…”
      Cleo Coyle on Twitter
      Friend or Follow Cleo Coyle on Facebook

  3. The VS Orient Express would be such a fun trip.

  4. Cherries are a BIG favorite at our house.
    This will be a big hit!