Sunday February 17, 2008
sizzling crepes suzette
My favorite story behind the origin of crepes suzette is this version (from Wikipedia).
The dish was created out of a mistake made by a fourteen year-old assistant waiter Henri Charpentier in 1895 at the Maitre at Monte Carlo's Café de Paris. He was preparing a dessert for the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII of England, and his companion whose first name was Suzette.
This is told by Henri Charpentier himself in Life a la Henri, his autobiography.
"It was quite by accident as I worked in front of a chafing dish that the cordials caught fire. I thought I was ruined. The Prince and his friends were waiting. How could I begin all over? I tasted it. It was, I thought, the most delicious melody of sweet flavors I had ever tasted. I still think so. That accident of the flame was precisely what was needed to bring all those various instruments into one harmony of taste . . . He ate the pancakes with a fork; but he used a spoon to capture the remaining syrup. He asked me the name of that which he had eaten with so much relish. I told him it was to be called Crepes Princesse. He recognized that the pancake controlled the gender and that this was a compliment designed for him; but he protested with mock ferocity that there was a lady present. She was alert and rose to her feet and holding her little shirt wide with her hands she made him a curtsey. 'Will you,' said His Majesty, 'change Crepes Princesse to Crepes Suzette?' Thus was born and baptized this confection, one taste of which, I really believe, would reform a cannibal into a civilized gentleman. The next day I received a present from the Prince, a jeweled ring, a panama hat and a cane."
The orange butter is excellent by itself spread on cake layers as an orange butter cream.
3/4 stick butter
1/4 cup sugar
Peel of 1 orange removed with a vegetable peeler
Juice of 1 orange (1/3 to 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons sugar
Place the butter, sugar, and orange peel in the bowl of a food processor and process until the orange peels are no longer visible and the whole mixture is a uniform orange color. Add the juice slowly with the machine on so that the butter absorbs it. Set aside.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/3 stick butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup cold water
1 tablespoon oil
In a bowl combine the flour, eggs, 1/2 cup milk, melted butter, salt, and sugar. Mix well with a whisk. The batter should be very thick; it is easier to get rid of lumps in a thick batter than in a thin one. Work it until it is smooth, then add the other 1/2 cup of milk, the cold water, and the oil. Stir well.
Heat the skillet and butter it lightly for the first crepe (I melted some butter in a bowl and used a brush to lightly butter the skillet before cooking each crepe. Be sure to remove any bits with first to ensure a smooth crepe). Pour about 2-4 tablespoonfuls of batter on one side of the skillet. The amount will vary depending upon the size of your skillet. Immediately tip the skillet, shaking it at the same time to make the batter run all over the bottom. The speed at which the batter is spread determines the thickness of the crepe. If you do not move the skillet fast enough, the batter sets before it has a chance to spread and the crepe will be thick. Practice with the first two crepes you make.
Cook it on medium to high heat for about 30 seconds. (After the first few seconds when the batter settles, I start to shake the pan from time to time so the pancake does not stick to the skillet). To flip, bang the skillet on a pot holder on the corner of the stove to get the crepe loose, and flip it over. I found this is easiest to do if you tilt the skillet away from you, slide the pancake to the very end of the skillet and then flick the pan towards you. This too will take practice but you'll get the hang of it after your first or second crepe.
Preparing the Crepes Suzette
Spread approximately 1 tablespoon of the orange butter on each crepe, and fold the crepes in fourths. Butter generously a large oven proof platter and sprinkle it with sugar. Arrange one dozen stuffed crepes on it, overlapping slightly, but leave a space at the end of the platter where the sauce can accumulate. Sprinkle the crepes with 2 tablespoons of sugar and place them under the broiler, approximately in the middle of the oven if your broiler is in the same unit, for about 2 to 3 minutes. The surface of the crepes will caramelize and the sauce will slightly bubble.
Fire it Up!
1/2 cup Cognac or brandy
1/4 cup Grand Marnier or homemade orange liqueur
Pour 1/2 Cup of Cognac or brandy and 1/4 cup Grand Marnier on the very hot crepes and ignite. Bring the platter to the table and incline it slightly so that the flaming juices gather in the space you left. Spoon up the liquid and pour it back, still flaming, onto the crepes. When the flame subsides, serve two crepes per person with some of the sauce.
Garnish with blood orange slices and if you like sprinkle confectioner's sugar across top.