Citizens – our week-long journey through France continues. 🙂
The famous dessert of Crêpes Suzette was first created by the chef Henry Charpentier, but its true origins remain shrouded in mystery.
The most popular tale has it that Charpentier devised the dish to honor a beautiful but otherwise unknown woman named Suzette who accompanied Edward, Prince of Wales, to a dinner party at the Cafe de Paris in Monte Carlo.
This is almost certainly a tall tale, as about ten years after the invention of the dish, Edward finally sampled it at London’s Savoy Hotel and commented that “a single taste would reform a cannibal into a civilized gentleman.”
High praise indeed!
Other alternative (and probably equally false) origins have been suggested, but regardless of its genesis, everyone can agree on one basic fact:
Flaming desserts are cool. 😉
While this may be considered something of a food cliché, evoking the dreaded image of “Continental Restaurants” from your childhood, the truth is that Crêpes Suzette deserves to be among the classic dessert recipes of all time!
It has thin Crêpes flavored delicately with orange, a sauce redolent of oranges and cherry with a hint of vanilla to tantalize the nostrils as you bring that first bite to your lips, to be savored, reverently.
Plus, it’s on fire. 😉
Joking aside, this dessert deserves to be made with all the pomp and circumstance demanded by tradition – but it really isn’t that hard to make at home!
The best recipe I’ve ever found for this dessert is from the esteemed food writer Daniel Rogov, restaurant and wine critic from the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz.
I’ve made two minor adjustments to his recipe to suit my own personal taste: I’ve added a touch of lime zest and a soupçon of St. Germaine elderflower liqueur for its fantastic aroma. Feel free to omit both if you prefer Rogov’s deservedly classic recipe!
Keep a fire extinguisher at the ready and unleash your sweet-toothed inner pyromaniac, Citizens!
Battle on – The Generalissimo
For the Sauce:
½ tsp. lemon rind, cut very thinly
1 tsp. tangerine rind, cut very thinly (note: although purists may insist to the contrary, orange rind may be substituted)
½ tsp. lime rind, cut very thinly (VERY OPTIONAL – omit if you’re a purist and if so, increase lemon rind by ½ tsp.)
1 tsp. sugar
2 drops vanilla extract
½ cup butter
2 ponies each of Kirsch and Grand Marnier liqueurs
For the Crepes:
2 ½ cups flour, sifted
pinch of salt
4 whole eggs + 2 egg yolks
1 ¾ cups milk
¾ Tbsp. Curacao liqueur
¼ Tbsp. St. Germaine Elderflower liqueur (VERY OPTIONAL – omit if you’re a purist and if so, increase Curacao by ¼ Tbsp.)
2 drops vanilla extract
1 tbs. butter, heated until light brown
¼ cup melted butter, for cooking
¼ cup sugar
In a jar combine the lemon, lime (if using) and tangerine rinds with the sugar and vanilla extract. Let stand, tightly covered, for at least 24 but not more than 48 hours.
Prepare the crepes: Sift the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add the salt and then add, one at a time, the whole eggs and egg yolks, working the batter with a wooden spoon until the mixture is well distributed. Add the milk, Curacao, St. Germaine (if using), vanilla, and browned butter and work together until the batter is completely smooth. Cover and let stand at room temperature for about 1 hour.
Just before cooking the crepes, check the batter which should have the consistency of light cream, just thick enough to coat a wooden spoon. To cook the crepes, butter a 23 cm. (7 inch) crepe pan or other low heavy skillet of this size with some of the melted butter. Heat just until a drop of batter dropped in the pan sizzles. In order to test the consistency of the batter and check the heat, make a first crepe by pouring 2 – 3 tbs. of the batter into the pan, turning the pan quickly so that the bottom is evenly coated, keeping in mind that the crepes should be extremely thin. Cook over a medium flame until the crepe is browned on the bottom and, with a metal spatula, turn and brown the second side. If the batter is overly thick, thin the mixture by adding milk a teaspoonful at a time.
Proceed to make the remaining crepes, adding butter to the pan only if the crepes begin to stick. If the crepes are to be used immediately they may be piled one on top of the other. If they are to be stored, separate each layer with waxed paper, cover and refrigerate until ready for use. Just before final preparation fold each crepe so that it forms a triangular shape.
Make the sauce: In a heavy skillet melt the butter and, when it begins to bubble add half each of the Kirsch and Grand Marnier. When the mixture is warm carefully flame the liqueurs. As the flame dies down add the lemon and tangerine mixture. Bring the sauce to the boil and into this place the crepes, turning once. Add the remaining liqueurs and carefully flame again.
Serve while flaming.