But there's yet another way that you can embrace chocolate at the breakfast table, thanks to the French: chocolate clafoutis.
A quick, easy chocolate treat for dessert (or breakfast)
In this clafoutis -- a simple French dessert that's part cake, part custard, and all ease -- pear and chocolate are paired together as the ultimate combination for the indecisive. When you just can't decide between a fruit-based dessert or a dark chocolate treat, this easy-to-make dessert delivers on both.
If you have yet to be introduced to clafoutis, there's no better time than now. The French dessert is made from a batter similar to crepes or Dutch babies -- it's egg-rich, with just a touch of flour, and bakes up to be light and custardy.
Pairing chocolate and pears
I first came across the pairing of chocolate and pears in Italy, where it's more common to see the match flirting with each other. One bite of a simple cake studded with chunks of both dark chocolate and pears, and I was sold. Sweet, juicy pears are the perfect foil for rich chocolate -- the fruit balances chocolate's intensity without lessening its decadence.
While clafoutis is more commonly seen flavored with nothing more than a splash of vanilla extract or a grating of lemon zest, or stuffed with summer fruit like cherries, its simple batter takes well to being winterized, which is why the chocolate and pear combination works so seamlessly here. A few spoonfuls of cocoa powder blended into the batter make for a rich chocolate base that hugs the juicy pear slices as it bakes.
Chocolate light enough for breakfast
This clafoutis is a tender treat that tastes decadent, but still manages to feel light -- even with the generous handful of chocolate chunks sprinkled on top (for good measure, of course). That means, while it's one crowd-pleasing dessert, especially when topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, it also works for breakfast when the day calls for something sweet. Just skip the ice cream in favor of Greek yogurt and remind yourself there's fruit involved.
CHOCOLATE AND PEAR CLAFOUTIS
Serves 6 to 8
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pound firm but ripe pears (such as Comice or D'Anjou, about 2 large), peeled, cored and sliced
- 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400 F. Coat a 10-inch cast iron skillet with the butter and set aside.
Place the milk, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a blender or food processor fitted with the blade attachment and process until the batter is smooth, about 20 seconds. Add the flour, cocoa powder and saltl pulse until just incorporated, 5 to 7 pulses.
Arrange the pear slices in a single layer in the prepared pan, fanned out in a circle. Pour the batter evenly over the pears; then sprinkle the chopped chocolate on top.
Bake until the clafoutis is set, puffed, and light golden-brown around the edges, about 35 minutes. Place the skillet on a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Cut into wedges or scoop and serve warm.