Jul 4, 2014
A friend showed me how to make crepes when I was at university. Judging from the way they sound, French and fancy, I used to think they required precision. My friend proved me wrong, by roughly whisking an egg, a cup of milk and ballpark flour enough to thicken the mixture to coat the back of a spoon. That's how I made crepes until this day, never questioning this method nor having the urge to find out exactly how much flour one needs to add. Hence I ate, throughout these years, bland, sponge-like crepes whose taste fell way too short of their reputation. Some college friends may have taught us wrong things afterall.
Luckily, Elle à Table magazine came to the rescue. If you are a reader you know that it publishes a brilliant feature in every issue called 'Recette de Base', meaning 'the basic recipe'. It provides one basic recipe which comes very handy if you like cooking things comme-il-faut and provides 8-10 recipes that uses that basic recipe. Couple of months ago it was this crepe recipe accompanied by variation of sweet crepe ideas. With one look over the ingredients, I saw that there were other things than just egg, milk and flour, I began suspecting that I was doing something wrong all along.
First of all, I was being too tight on the eggs department, by strictly using one. That's what mine owed their unappetizing cast color to. Secondly, the added two tablespoons of Grand Marnier or Cointreu, no matter how pretentious they may sound, are the missing link that makes our crepes at home bland, and those at proper creperies extraordinary. My humble opinion strictly.
When it comes to toppings, the sky is the limit. But by smearing it with say Nutella, one can eat a piece of wood. But this crepe is so delicate, using overpowering toppings would make it injustice. I like berries for their mildness and roasted nuts like pistaccio, hazelnuts and almonds for they counterbalance with their cruchiness. And finally, a little drizzle of honey adds slight sweetness, wrapping the whole thing together, giving you the best sweet crepe you can concoct at home.
Serves 2-3/makes 12 crepes
- 18 cm non-stick pan
- 100 g flour, sifted
- 2 eggs
- a pinch of salt
- 250 ml milk (almond milk or soy milk can be used)
- 10 g granulated sugar
- 10 g butter, melted*
- 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or Cointreau
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- regular olive oil or clarified butter, for cooking**
- nuts of your choice almonds, pistacchios, hazelnuts and/or walnuts, crushed
- fresh berries of your choice, bananas or peaches
- Roast nuts seperately in the pan, over high heat, frequently tilting the pan back and forth for 2-3 minute, or until they become light brown but not burnt. (Pistaccios roast without changing color. Roast them very briefly until they exhume their aroma.)
- Whisk all the ingredients with a hand-held mixer.
- Heat the non-stick pan over high heat. Pour 3-4 drops of oil. Once the oil starts to smoke, remove the pan off the heat. Pour 1/3 cup of crepe dough in the pan, while with your other hand tilting the pan in a circular movement for the dough to spread out evenly. Return the pan to the heat and cook each side of the crepe for 1 minute, until they lightly brown.
- Transfer crepes to a plate covered with aluminum foil to keep them warm. (Edit after more experience: covering them with aluminum foil causes them to soften in their own steam and loose their crispiness. Instead, you can keep them warm in the 80 C / 170 F preheated oven,) Serve them with fruit, roasted nuts and honey.
- Crepes keep fresh in the fridge for 2 days. You can warm them up in the 180 C/350 F preheated over for 5-10 minutes.
*Fill one thirds of a small sauce pan with water. Put it over low heat. Place a heat proof bowl bigger than the rim of the pan and put the butter in that bowl. The butter will melt without being cooked with the steam of the simmering water.
**For clarified butter, place the required quantity of butter in a sauce pan and melt it over medium heat. Skim off the foam with a spoon. Pour the rest of the butter into a bowl leaving the milky residue at the bottom. The clear yellow liquid is the clarified butter.